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National Education & Attainment Survey

Young people wearing hard hats and taking notes on paper.
Understanding the education and training experiences of adults
  • Client
    Lumina Foundation
  • Dates


The Lumina Foundation wanted to measure the prevalence of high-quality postsecondary credentials held by adults and their relationship to career and employment. 

The Lumina Foundation is committed to improving the nation’s postsecondary education system by increasing the proportion of Americans who hold a degree, certificate, or other high-quality postsecondary credential. By ensuring access to high-quality educational opportunities after high school, more individuals will achieve a greater earning capacity, which in turn leads to better quality of life, stronger economies, and thriving communities, as well as a stronger nation overall. The Foundation’s Goal 2025 initiative aims to increase that population to 60 percent by 2025. To assess movement towards that target, the Foundation needed to understand what percentage of adults aged 18 to 64 have high-quality, postsecondary credentials, with a focus on certificates, certifications, licenses, and apprenticeships. It also wanted to understand how those credentials were tied to career and employment outcomes. 


NORC conducted a national survey of adults to assess their postsecondary credentials and educational and employment experiences.

NORC surveyed a nationally representative sample of adults aged 18 to 64 to determine the percentage of adults who hold high-quality credentials and the impact of education and training on employment. We oversampled for underserved populations to capture their voices. This survey asked participants about their education and workforce training, which included post-secondary degrees, as well as certificates, certifications, licenses, and apprenticeships. It also collected information on their work status, job title, industry, and salary. 


The study yielded vital national data to inform the Lumina Foundation’s education initiatives. 

This study helped to inform Lumina’s Goal 2025 initiative by painting a national picture of the educational attainment levels of adults in the United States. It also provided researchers with national data to further study that issue. The data underscored the need for further research to better understand how people perceive their own non-degree training and workforce credentials, and how those credentials impact their career trajectories. 

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