There is "little relationship" between courses at college or university and the broad sectors graduates now work in, says a Scottish Funding Council study that is tracking occupational progress over several years.
Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) go on to take further courses, rising to 65 per cent of former FE students, many of whom are already in jobs before they go to college.
Colleges and universities will take comfort from the finding that 90 per cent of graduates are happy with their overall learning experience and seven in 10 (69 per cent) feel they have improved their job prospects.
Eight out of 10 would select the same course again.
One year after finishing their studies, more than three out of four graduates are in work or taking further courses. Women are more likely to work part-time. But one in five graduates complains they are not in appropriate jobs, a feature that should be probed further, the researchers say.
"The majority feel their job is appropriate for their level of qualification, something that is more true of those now working full-time than it is of those working part-time. However, many are in a job that requires no specific qualifications," On Track, Class of 2004 states.
Most want to broaden their experience and develop general skills. One in three says they are doing exactly the type of work they wanted. The majority of those in full-time work earn pound;10,000-pound;20,000, but most part-timers earn less than pound;10,000.
Nearly nine out of 10 graduates (88 per cent) continue to live in Scotland one year on, but one in 10 plans to move within the next year to find the job they want.
On Track: Class of 2004 (Longitudinal Survey of Learners, Sweep Two: 2005) was carried out by Ipsos Mori with Critical Thinking. It is available at www.tes.co.ukscotland.