3 takeaways about Iowa’s education and workforce from Metrics that Matter


Jack MacDonald/Iowa State Daily

A prospective intern greets an employee from Workiva. The Engineering Career Fair at Hilton Coliseum had over 350 companies on hand for students to talk with Feb. 7. 

Emily Barske

Education or training beyond high school is becoming more necessary than ever before in Iowa, new evaluations show. And the most desired skills in the workforce are also evolving.

“Iowans celebrate the fact that our unemployment rate is low and our economy is growing, but without a significant enhancement to our state’s workforce education and training our competitiveness could evaporate,” reads the introduction of the Future Ready Iowa Metrics that Matter report. “Meanwhile, employers across the state routinely say it is hard to hire enough skilled workers.”

The initiative has a vision of having “70 percent of Iowa’s workforce ages 25 to 64 having education or training beyond high school by 2025.” Currently, 58 percent of that group has attained education or training beyond high school, according to the report.

The report digs into key statistics addressing the intersections of education, training and workforce. Here are three takeaways most relevant to the Iowa State community.

1 – Iowa State awards most bachelor’s degrees of regents, but lower four-year completion

Iowa State awards more bachelor’s degrees than the other regent universities, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa, according to 2015 data in the report. However, more students complete those degrees in four years at both the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa.

Bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2015:

  • Iowa State University – 5,687

  • University of Iowa – 4,845

  • University of Northern Iowa – 2,303

Percent of students who completed the bachelor’s degree in four years:

  • University of Iowa – 68 percent

  • University of Northern Iowa – 57 percent

  • Iowa State University – 56 percent

The state of Iowa ranks 33rd among other states for the percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher. About 29 percent of Iowans in 2015 held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the 32 percent national average.

2 – Iowa’s top demand jobs

The report looked at high-demand jobs in the state based on the percent growth of the position or the most annual openings.

High-demand jobs by growth percentage:

  1. Wind turbine service technicians

  2. Occupational therapy assistants

  3. Operations research analysts

  4. Information security analysts

  5. Physical therapist assistants

  6. Web developers

  7. Actuaries

  8. Physical therapists

  9. Occupational therapists

  10. Nurse practitioners

  11. Computer systems analysts

High-demand jobs by annual openings:

  1. Registered nurses

  2. Elementary school teachers (excluding special education)

  3. Accountants and auditors

  4. Sales reps, wholesale and manufacturing

  5. Secondary school teachers

  6. General and operations managers

  7. Middle school teachers

  8. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

  9. Business operations specialists

  10. Electricians

  11. Industrial machinery mechanic

3 – Median household income increases with education level

Iowa’s median annual personal income for full-time workers is $43,534. The average income increases with education attainment.

Income based on educational attainment:

  • Less than 9th Grade – $25,008

  • 9th to 12th Grade, No Diploma – $30,025

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent – $35,000

  • Some College, No Degree – $38,010

  • Associate Degree – $42,000

  • Bachelor’s Degree – $60,015

  • Master’s Degree – $67,824

  • Professional Degree – $85,577

  • Doctorate Degree – $100,020

To see more takeaways, take a look at the report.