How Does a College Degree Impact Your Working Future?
How does a college degree impact your working future? Here are some answers, highlighted in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly (Fall 2002) article by Arlene Dohm and Ian Wyatt, "Outlook and Earnings for College Graduates", 2000-2010.
The big question these authors raise is, "Are you willing to pay now, in time and money, for the following long-term rewards?"
- More job choices
- Higher earnings
- Lower unemployment
- Opportunities for promotion
Everyone knows working toward a college degree is time consuming and can be expensive. The payoff may not be your dream job right away, but it does guarantee more job choices. We also know that degrees often equal higher earnings. The average weekly salary of workers with a college degree in 2000 was $834, compared with $507 for workers who had a high school diploma or GED. That difference is increasing, as shown in this 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics chart:
|Education Pays in Higher Earnings and Lower Unemployment Rates|
|Unemployment rate in 2006 (Percent)||Education attained||Median weekly earnings in 2006 (Dollars)|
|3.9||Some college, no degree||674|
|6.8||Less than a high school diploma||419|
|Note: Data are 2006 annual averages for persons age 25 and over. Earnings are for full-time wage and salary workers.|
Of all of the new jobs now being created, more than half will require education beyond high school. It's also worth noting that the fastest growing jobs are expected to require much higher math, language, and reasoning capabilities than current jobs.
Job promotions are usually based on employee motivation, quality of work, and the ability to get along with others. But supervisors also consider whether or not the employee has a college degree; it's a sign that the worker is serious about the job, knows how to learn, and can achieve goals. Also, growing international competition has forced companies to emphasize sales and customer service, which means they are looking for employees with strong communication skills. Employers often see college graduates as more motivated, able to learn tasks more quickly, better able to meet deadlines, better at communicating and problem-solving.
So, as you can see, paying for college now is a good investment in your future.