A recent report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers finds that postsecondary degrees produce higher median incomes for the vast majority of individuals in all 50 states, across all disciplines. The report found Healthcare and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degrees result in the highest earnings, and healthcare is also one of the fastest growing disciplines.
What’s the purpose of the report?
Education officials produced the report to better explain how incomes are associated with different degrees and to provide state-level wage data by discipline.
- Utilizes education data from the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS) Survey
- Utilizes wage data from the U.S. Census Bureau
- Includes data for fiscal years 2004-05 and 2009-10 from the IPEDS Survey
- Includes completed associate’s, bachelor’s and graduate degrees in the analysis
The report stated health-related disciplines pay well but produce fewer degrees. However, findings also indicated the field is growing due to increases in health-related degree production and high incomes.
According to the report, health-related discipline degrees:
- Saw a 51% increase between 2004-05 and in 2009-10
- Bachelor’s degrees grew more than 18% over the same time period, the highest growth in any discipline
- Associate’s degrees increased by 28% between 2004-05 and 2009-10 and are associated with higher earnings
- Comprise 18.2% of associate’s degrees, 6.9% of bachelor’s degrees and 12.9% of graduate degrees awarded in 2009-10
- Offer national wage premiums at each degree level that are higher than the premiums for all other fields
The report also found that STEM disciplines produce a large number of degrees and offer above average median incomes.
STEM discipline degrees:
- Comprise 8.4% of associate’s degrees, 19.3% of bachelor’s degrees, and 19.4% of graduate degrees awarded in 2009-10
- Offer above average wage premiums of 41.4% at the associate’s level and 95.2% at the bachelor’s level
- Have higher median incomes than other disciplines, except health-related graduate degrees