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Some 2-year degrees pay off better than BAs...
by NWP
September 4, 2013 at 10:31 PM

Some 2-year degrees pay off better than BAs

  @melhicken September 4, 2013: 9:16 AM ET

college degree earnings

In Texas, those who graduated from certificate programs to become communications systems installers, earned an average of $78,515 their first year on the job.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Shelling out more money for a four-year college degree doesn't always mean you'll land a job with a better salary, a recent report found.

In fact, graduates of many two-year associates and occupational certificate programs earn just as much as workers with traditional four-year degrees -- if not more in some cases, according to a report from CollegeMeasures.org, which analyzed the earnings of recent graduates in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

In Texas, for example, workers with "technical" associates degrees, which typically include specialized training in fields such as technology and healthcare, earned a median annual salary of $50,827 in their first year after graduation -- an average of $11,000 more than those with bachelor degrees.

In Arkansas, aircraft technicians with an occupational certificate earned, on average, more than $40,000 in the first year on the job, while college graduates with a psychology degree earned roughly $26,000.

Over the span of a career, however, the earnings potential shifts with the average four-year college graduate out-earning the average associate's degree holder, said Mark Schneider, president of College Measures.

But the four-year degree often comes with a hefty price tag. For the 2012-13 school year, average annual tuition and fees at public four-year colleges was $8,655 and nearly $30,000 at private institutions, according to the College Board. At public two-year colleges (mainly community colleges), the average annual bill was $3,131.

Is the cost of college crippling?

With college costs spiking, student debt at record levels and hiring still weak, Schneider said it's essential that incoming students take into account their future earnings and job prospects when choosing a school and area of study.

For example, workers with "academic" associates degrees, which are tailored to students hoping to transfer to four-year schools, typically earn far less than students who choose technical and occupational associates degrees where students are armed with much more specific vocational skills.

"Students who go into community colleges with the expectation that they're going to transfer to a four-year degree are not getting their money's worth quite frankly," said Schneider, noting that many students never make it to the four-year degree.

Meanwhile, students enticed to the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with promises of high future salaries, should be wary of the 'S.'

According to the report, biology and chemistry majors have starting salaries that pale in comparison to their other STEM counterparts.

In Virginia, for example, graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering earned an average starting salary of more than $50,000, while biology grads earned less than $30,000.

Schneider said he is hopeful that more students will educate themselves before taking on significant student debt to finance their education. President Obama recently proposed rating colleges on a variety of factors, including the earnings of its graduates.

"Right choices can lead to good careers and high earnings, but wrong ones can leave graduates with mountains of debt and poor prospects of ever paying off their student loans," he wrote. To top of page

Replies

  • NWP
    by NWP
    September 4, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    This may sound a bit controversial coming from me and considering my livelihood....I've been involved in academia most of my life and can honestly say that while the social development is invaluable, the financial cost vs. return isn't the guaranteed value it used to be. College isn't for everyone and we need to stop pushing all of our children into debt by demanding/expecting a four year + degree from all of them. There are lots of other choices that could be better for many of our youth these days IMO. This is not the automatic decision/expectation it used to be:(

  • sweet-a-kins
    September 4, 2013 at 10:33 PM
    If your kids don't know what they want to be- make them be pharmacist

    They get their license and are making over 6 figures immediately
  • mistressflora
    September 4, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    do you need to go to school for that or just take a test?

    Quoting sweet-a-kins:

    If your kids don't know what they want to be- make them be pharmacist

    They get their license and are making over 6 figures immediately


  • krysstizzle
    September 4, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    I already weep over my master's degree, now I have another reason. The quoted first year earnings of those two-year degrees all make more than me and my nine years of higher education. Let us say nothing of student loan debt, for the love of pete. 

    Thank the heavens I love what I do. 

  • NWP
    by NWP
    September 4, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Yeah...I'm not ever going to be rich, but I do love what I do.

    Quoting krysstizzle:

    I already weep over my master's degree, now I have another reason. The quoted first year earnings of those two-year degrees all make more than me and my nine years of higher education. Let us say nothing of student loan debt, for the love of pete. 

    Thank the heavens I love what I do. 


  • susannah2000
    September 4, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    that is true alot of times. 2 year degrees that are training programs will get people working, whereas a 4 year degree does not in alot of cases. It is true that 4 year school isn't for everyone, but some sort of higher education is required. If your kid doesn't know what they want to do, or how to make a career of their 4 year degree, , do a training program.

  • NWP
    by NWP
    September 4, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    I think we should bring back paid apprentices for skilled labor/trade jobs. Some still do this.

    Quoting susannah2000:

    that is true alot of times. 2 year degrees that are training programs will get people working, whereas a 4 year degree does not in alot of cases. It is true that 4 year school isn't for everyone, but some sort of higher education is required. If your kid doesn't know what they want to do, or how to make a career of their 4 year degree, , do a training program.


  • turtle68
    September 4, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Are apprentices not paid?  Wowser.

    Our government has gone into overdrive with apprenticeships making them more attractive to prospective trainers / employers.  Everyone knows that an apprenticeship is low paying for the first two years which is why our government introduced the school based apprenticeship for those kids who arent academic.  My daughter was on one (hospitality) she went to school 3 days and work 2 days.  She wasnt cut out for it but she got some invaluble work experience whilst still in school and the employers had cheap labour for a year.  

    Quoting NWP:

    I think we should bring back paid apprentices for skilled labor/trade jobs. Some still do this.

    Quoting susannah2000:

    that is true alot of times. 2 year degrees that are training programs will get people working, whereas a 4 year degree does not in alot of cases. It is true that 4 year school isn't for everyone, but some sort of higher education is required. If your kid doesn't know what they want to do, or how to make a career of their 4 year degree, , do a training program.



  • susannah2000
    September 4, 2013 at 11:06 PM



    Quoting NWP:

    I think we should bring back paid apprentices for skilled labor/trade jobs. Some still do this.

    Quoting susannah2000:

    that is true alot of times. 2 year degrees that are training programs will get people working, whereas a 4 year degree does not in alot of cases. It is true that 4 year school isn't for everyone, but some sort of higher education is required. If your kid doesn't know what they want to do, or how to make a career of their 4 year degree, , do a training program.


    I absolutely agree. I admit that I don't know anything about apprenticeship programs, but it's a great idea. I think there should be financial incentives for those skilled laborers who are involved in apprenticeship programs. As technical and computerized as our society has become, there always will be a need for those who build and repair, and do it well.


  • sweet-a-kins
    September 4, 2013 at 11:35 PM
    You need school and a test



    Quoting mistressflora:

    do you need to go to school for that or just take a test?

    Quoting sweet-a-kins:

    If your kids don't know what they want to be- make them be pharmacist



    They get their license and are making over 6 figures immediately


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