The Economic Value of Career Education

Many career minded individuals negate the importance of formal education and career training when it comes to expanding their career horizon and enhancing their long-term marketability. Others who are considering earning a college degree, diploma or professional certification want to know whether or not a formal education or training program - that require substantial investment of time and money - will actually pay off in years to come? The resounding answer given by most experts, educators and successful career professionals is yes! Consider the following information carefully.

(Note: The following working-life estimates only represent “expected average amounts” which are founded on cross-sectional earnings data for the previous calendar year by age, sex, race, Hispanic origin education level, and part-time or full-time work experience (compiled by Current Population Surveys (CPS)).

Career Education and Earnings

At the beginning of the 21rst century, about 85% of U.S. adult ages 25 and older earned at least a high school diploma. 26% of these individuals went on to complete a bachelor's degree or higher education program. Both of these statistics reflected record highs for this nation up to that point. In comparison, in 1975, only about 60% of U.S. adults of the same age group completed high school, and a measly 14% went on to earn a bachelor's degree. Much of this trend is to a more educated younger population taking the place of an older, less education population. As this trend continues, and more and more of our youth pursue higher education, an advancing highly educated population will arise, taking advantage of many higher paying, prestigious and technical career opportunities. If you are an aspiring career professional, who intends to stay in the work force for at least another 10 to 15 years, and you feel you do not need to pursue higher education opportunities to excel in most cases you'll be wrong. Focused education and training will be the key to the success of most aspiring career professional for the foreseeable future.

Earnings Increase With Level of Education

While current and future earnings are influenced by work experience, evidence suggests that each consecutive higher education level a person obtains is directly related to increase in earnings. U.S. adults ages 25 to 65 that worked at any point throughout duration of the study period received an average annual earnings of $35,000. Noteworthy however is that average earnings varied in amount proportionate to level of education obtained; $18,900 for high school dropouts, $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates, and $99,300 for persons possessing a professional degree (J.D, M.D., D.V.M., or D.D.S).

Increase in the use and application of technology in almost every aspect of our lives will favor a more educated and skilled working population. Consequently, earnings among working adults who possess a degree or advanced professional or technical training will increased. Conversely, it is predicted that labor unions and the minimum wage in constant dollars will simultaneously decline, leading to a relative drop in the earnings for less educated professionals.

Earnings Differences by Educational Attainment Compound Over One's Lifetime.

Estimates of working-life earnings poignantly illustrate the gap that develops between workers of diverse educational levels over the course of their careers.

For full-time, year-round workers, the 40-year earnings estimates for high school dropouts comes to a little over $1 million, whereas workers who earn a high school diploma will have an increase in their earnings by approximately $250,000, brining their total live-long earnings to nearly $1.5 million. For individuals who did attend some college, but failed to obtain their degree, working-life earnings may be expected to reach about $1.7 million, with slightly more earning potential for those who earned an associate's degree, approximately $1.8 million. On average, persons possessing a bachelor's degree may earn $2.3 million, which is approximately one third more earnings than can be made by someone who did not complete their college education, and nearly twice as much as working professionals who only earned a high school diploma. Career professionals who have earned a master's degree have life-long earnings estimates of $2.9 million, and those who obtain a Doctoral or other professional degree may reach $4.6 million or higher.

The sizable disparity in estimated working-life earnings among the various educational levels reflects not only a difference in the total earnings generated through one's life but also a gap in start salaries amoung these groups. When you consider the data, at most ages, furthering your education correlates with greater earning potential. Without a doubt, career education pays off.

More Education Equals More Money

Its is simple fact, the more education you acquire the higher your earning capacity. Those with more education are also much less likely to find themselves unemployed. A survey from 2012 shows that average earnings grow from $471 to $652 per week, just by earning a high school diploma. Getting a college Bachelor's degree increases average earnings to $1,066 per week.

Education Level 2012 Median Weekly Earnings ($) 2012 Unemployment Rate (%)
Some High School, No Diploma 471 12.4
High School Graduate 652 8.3
Some College, No Degree 727 7.7
Associate Degree 785 6.2
Bachelor's Degree 1,066 4.5
Masters' Degree 1,300 3.5
Professional Degree 1,735 2.1
Doctoral Degree 1,624 2.5
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career and Higher Education Resources

Once you've determined that advancing your education is the correct move you then need to determine what type of career education you require. While earning a traditional college degree is the most popular path there are a number of other viable options, including earning a vocational degree or technical certification. Technical and professional certification of skills is growing in significance amongst employers, especially when the employers are helping to develop the standards of certification. Certificates work as "open transcripts" of a worker's ability to use skills, knowledge, and learning experience gained over time.

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