LAS VEGAS -- For decades Southern Nevada offered plenty of hospitality and construction jobs that didn't require higher education.
So it may come as little surprise that in 2010 only 23.2 percent of adults 25 and older in Las Vegas possessed at least a bachelor's degree, the second lowest percentage among the nation's 52 largest metro areas, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education. Only Fresno, Calif., at 22.5 percent, was lower. Topping the list was Denver at 47.5 percent.
Other data from the center for 2006 through 2008 showed that Hispanics trailed all other ethnic or racial groups in educational attainment in Nevada. Only 8.2 percent of Hispanics 25 and older possessed a bachelor's degree, compared to 37.1 percent of Asian-Americans, 24.8 percent of whites and 15.1 percent of blacks.
As of April 2011, the occupations in Nevada that require at least a bachelor's degree and provide the greatest opportunity for work are general or operations managers, with 538 annual openings statewide and an average hourly wage of $49.73. Other occupations with the most annual openings include other managers, business operation specialists, accountants and auditors, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
The relative lack of college-educated residents also could have been a factor in the mediocre rankings the National Science Foundation handed Nevada in numerous categories from 2007 through 2009. The state ranked 44th in science and engineering doctorates awarded and in small business innovation research awards and 42nd in spending on academic research. Nevada also ranked 34th in patents issued to residents.