Virginia Jumps on Growing Trend of Scrapping Degree Requirements for State Jobs

Richmond Photo by STEPHEN POORE on Unsplash

By Carolyn Fiddler

June 1, 2023

Starting July 1, state agencies in Virginia will no longer require college degrees for almost 90% of state jobs, a move aimed to address staff shortages and expand opportunities for workers in the commonwealth.

Soon workers in Virginia without college degrees will have thousands of new job opportunities in state agencies.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced this week that he’s eliminating the college degree requirement, will no longer give preference to applicants with degrees, or both for nearly 90% of jobs with the state of Virginia. Virginia state agencies advertise around 20,000 job opportunities each year.

“By giving equal consideration to applicants with an equivalent combination and level of training, knowledge, skills, certifications, and experience we have opened a sea of opportunity at all levels of employment for industrious individuals who have the experience, training, knowledge, skills, abilities, and most importantly, the desire to serve the people of Virginia,” said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater in a statement announcing the policy change, which will take effect on July 1.

Virginia will be the eighth state to lower barriers for state jobs in such a way. Maryland jettisoned four-year degree requirements for many of its state jobs a year ago, and Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah have followed suit.

The new policy drew no immediate public criticism when it was announced, and it earned praise from Democratic Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, who is also a high school teacher in Henrico County. 

“We’ve seen Democratic and Republican governors across the country make this policy decision because it expands opportunities for working folks,” he said. “I’ve been an advocate for Virginia moving in this direction and am glad to see the governor agrees.”

Virginia’s secretary of labor also noted that the Youngkin administration is working to find ways to simplify and speed up credentialing processes and universal licensing for regulated occupations and professions in the state.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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