Look around. You probably know this already—the value of education is everywhere. With a degree, one exciting value is the potential for greater wealth. In fact, according to the BLS, bachelor’s degree-holders make $1,187 per week, compared to $666 per week for those with just a high school diploma. That’s the difference between making about $56,976 per year with a bachelor’s degree and $31,968 with a high school degree! [i]
Some college graduates don’t stop there. While some industries mandate continuing education, like many medical professionals, business professionals in other industries realize the value of furthering their education without being told to do so. As the ever-changing business world evolves, this indirectly encourages employees to be life-long learners. Continuing training, including webinars, conferences, white papers, etc. could strengthen an employee’s skillset.
Why Choose an Associate’s Degree?
Another option for continuing education? Earning an additional degree—but not the degree you might first think of. Many students are choosing to pursue community college associate degrees after attaining their bachelor’s degrees, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 1,715,900 students earned their bachelor’s degree from 2011-2012. [ii] A college graduate could decide to earn their associate’s degree for many reasons—especially in today’s economy.
One reason: the graduate’s major might not have been substantial enough to find a job with a degree in a specific subject area, like philosophy for example. During the 2011-2012 academic year, NCES reports that 1,017,500 associate’s degrees were awarded—and about two-thirds were in three broad fields of study: liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities; health professions and related programs; and business, management, marketing, and support services. [iii]
Another reason that associate’s degrees may be appealing is that they typically take less time to complete (often two years or less) than other degree programs. Tuition rates also may be lower with associate’s degree programs than for other higher-level degree options. And, if you’re currently a full-time employee, pursuing an associate’s degree online may provide you with more flexibility to work your studies into your busy schedule.
Is a Graduate’s Degree the Right Option for You?
Another way to boost your knowledge, skills and credentials is to earn your graduate’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average median weekly earnings for master’s degree-holders in 2013 was $1,329 versus $1,108 for those with a bachelor’s degree. And, while the 2013 unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree-holders was 4.0, the rate for those with a master’s degree was only 3.4. [iv]
Graduate school may not be for everyone. The type of program will dictate the cost and amount of time it takes to earn the degree—but if you’re interested in pursuing a more specialized career (such as a doctor or a lawyer) that requires a higher level of education and experience, it could be a good option for you.
What About Certificate Programs?
Certificate programs are a series of classes that are focused on a specific topic or area of study. The main purpose of certificates is to arm students with the knowledge to help them advance to a higher level of study or prepare students to earn a credential that is necessary for a particular profession.
According to the NCES, the number of moderate-term (1-2 year) certificates awarded at Title IV institutions increased from 405,893 in the 2009-10 school year to 527, 879 in 2010-11.[vi] This may be attributed in part to an increased demand for certificates in health professions and personal and culinary services.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective (and time-efficient) way to boost your credentials in a specific occupation, you may want to look into pursuing a certificate program.
Click here for more information on different degree options and subject areas that may appeal to you.