A professional individual contributor is the personification of the middle class.  Initially PIC’s were not Individual contributors.. they were management.   Professionals got their start in complex jobs and middle management, entry level white collar.  You had laborers and you had people above them (organizationally) who had advanced problem solving training vis a vis a college, typically a bachelor’s degree who  did the complex problem solving.  That has since gone away…

We have labor, we have management.. and the class in the middle has devolved to become professional laborers.  There was a time when a junior manager had a secretary to manage correspondence and communications.  Now we have emails and voice mails.  They managed schedules.. now we have Outlook and google calendars.   To be this entry level manager you had to have that 4 year degree.  It’s why parents encouraged their children to go to college and get a ‘good job’ meaning a non-dirty office type job.

Now it’s being reflected in the numbers.. education has caught up with the corporate culture of today.  

I was recently at a career pathways presentation for the state of North Carolina.  The event was an all-day affair but the most important component, the most salient presentation was one little innocuous slide by the labor and economic analysis team from the state of North Carolina (hope they don’t mind that I’m using their image, but props to LEAD).  In the slide and during the presentation they talked about how the growth for education was highest in two areas.. Associates and Masters with the growth projected to be lower in Bachelor’s and Doctoral Levels.  

In this one little slide the story of our modern corporate world is laid out.  You are a skilled laborer (Associates, certificate), or you are management (Masters).  If you are in between (Bachelors) there is less and less need for you.  The Bachelor’s degree has become a black hole.  It’s not really needed by the vast majority of employers but it’s still promoted and culturally as the defacto ‘college education’ standard.  Middle management as a job class has gone away.  Employers want the Associates class to have both technical and problem solving skills.  So what happens to the people trained in problem solving?  

They earn less, they get more responsibilities to justify the sometimes slightly higher wage, they have a hard time finding work.. in short they struggle, and just like a black hole, when you have kids, a house, student loan payments and other responsibilities, it’s very hard to escape the gravity of life to realign into a category that’s truly in-demand.

Posted by Mike Peluso

Mike Peluso writes about the collision between between the business / professional world and life. He also writes about the journey involved with the Peluso Presents efforts including the Blog, Books, and Podcast so that others may benefit from his efforts. Read the Blog: Listen to the Podcast: Support the Effort:


  1. […] I graduated high school I I entered into the bachelor black hole.  Thankfully I didn’t suffer as bad as some of my peers when it came to debt.   I exited […]



  2. […] of managers only a few are needed now, and the management class is getting cut by 70-90%.   That BA isn’t looking so great anymore. […]



  3. […] interesting thing for the Professional.  I’ve discussed it several times.  The Bachelors is a black hole that hasn’t gone away and seems to suck more would be professionals every year.   I have also […]



  4. So many people graduate with a Bachelor Degree yes and I do understand the black hole you speak about. But I wonder what happen to the old practice of creating a game plan to beat the odds… Yet I think we some how forget to really investigate the long term and the possibilities of jobs requirements we choose to really obtain a degree. Suggestions in order to survive the black hole and drive in a modern age society where technology is the way; update your skills through free trainings, seminars, workshop etc. if not the Black Hole is sure to grab you. The black hole is waiting for those of you who have not done your homework and fail to see the careers you choose was domed before it got started. Bet the Black hole make it a continuum to update you possibilities



  5. […] with the challenges of everyday life.  I talk about education infrastructure and culture and the bachelor black hole.  I’ve discussed retirement and the loss of pensions and the need for a more comprehensive […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s