I saw this on an online application for a job:

Education level:
Bachelor's Degree (±16 years)

I have not seen this on any other applications of the sort. What does the ±16 years mean?

  • I'd guess it's a typo and should just be (+16 years). If alternate educational levels with different numbers of years (eg associates and 18 years or masters and 14) that would reinforce my assumption. Jan 7, 2015 at 20:06
  • Some countries have 14 years of education for Bachelor degree, Probably the ad was asking for more of a regular bachelor degree. Jan 7, 2015 at 20:06
  • What country is this? Jan 7, 2015 at 20:10
  • this is the united states. I doubt it is a typo, because it showed up multiple times for multiple levels of education. Eg, High School or GED (±11 years)
    – Crow
    Jan 7, 2015 at 20:21
  • As @ChrisLively says, the ± is used in some countries to mean approximately. The Netherlands is one such country. Likely the resume is or job posting is from someone who comes from a country where ± is used like that.
    – Eric
    Jan 8, 2015 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


± is going to mean "about" or "approximately" or even "give or take a bit".

Essentially it's saying that the person spent about 16 years of their life in school.


I'd second Dan's comment that this is the number of years of formal education. In Canada there are 12 grades of elementary and secondary school, which isn't counting pre-school and Kindergarten, then adding 4 years for a Bachelor's degree would give a total of 16 years of education. I'd suspect in the US there could be similar totals giving that number of years of total schooling.

  • so counting your primary reception class seems a little strange what value does it have?
    – Pepone
    Jan 7, 2015 at 21:12
  • That's rather different than my guess, which was that they were co-mingling degree level and professional experience and wanted someone with a BS/BA degree and 16 years of work experience, but yours seems reasonable as well. Jan 7, 2015 at 22:14
  • Going along the same lines, a 3 Year Degree in Australia counts as a 4 Year degree in the US as we have a extra year of Secondary Education. The final year of high school counts as a year of college.
    – mckenzm
    Feb 28, 2018 at 8:30

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