Does a College Education Really Pay Off?

It is a question that’s been asked for as long as degree programs and learning institutions have been around – does a college education really pay off? Well, ask anyone that has a high school diploma against someone who has at least a bachelor’s degree and chances are you’ll learn that yes, it does pay off in many ways to have earned a college education and degree. According to statistics, such as an employment projection and survey taken from the United States Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers don’t lie.

The chart, modified in May of 2010, looks at unemployment rates and median weekly earnings of individuals surveyed in 2009. The survey shows unemployment rates and monetary earnings from individuals with all sorts of educational backgrounds ranging from a high school education without a diploma to those with a doctoral degree, and everything else in between. In addition, the individuals surveyed were full-time wage and salary workers and all over the age of 25.

As far as unemployment is concerned, the unemployment rate for individuals with less than a high school diploma is much higher than for those individuals that have at least a bachelor’s degree. Unemployment rates of those individuals with less than a high school diploma was at 14.6% in 2009, compared to a 5.2% unemployment rate in people that have at least a bachelor’s degree. Those percentages continue to decrease to 3.9% for those that have a master’s degree, 2.3% for those with a professional degree, and a 2.5% unemployment rate for those that have a doctoral degree.

When actual monetary earnings are considered, those with less than a high school diploma earned less than half of what individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree earned, and less than a third of what those with doctoral degrees earned. Those surveyed with less than a high school diploma on average earned $454 a week, while those with an associate degree earned $761 a week, and those with a bachelor’s degree earned $1,025 a week. In addition, those individuals surveyed with master’s degrees earned $1,257 a week, and those with professional and doctoral degrees earned $1,529 and $1,532 respectively, a week.

It’s possible that people know that those that have a degree are likely to earn more than a person that doesn’t. The higher your degree is and the more schooling experience and training you have, the more likely your salary or income will continue to rise. But where people may think that it is not worth it is when they hear or see of people racking up tens of thousands of dollars or more worth of school debt. While there may be some reservation in that sense, one thing is clear – earning a degree will earn you more money.

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