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By the Numbers: The Value of a Degree

4/15/2013 12:01 pm

Pig in Grad Cap

Want to maximize your chances of having a great job? Want that job to pay you well?

Two new studies getting attention in the field of higher education indicate that, at an ever-increasing rate, college degrees are more and more important for job placement and higher earnings.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported this month that, in the last quarter of 2011, college graduates earned nearly three times as much as high school dropouts. The disparity was even higher if the degree earned was a post-graduate degree.

Meanwhile, Harris Interactive found that it’s becoming more frequent for jobs that used to require only a high school diploma to require a college degree now.

By the numbers:

  • $11,749 – The median income of a college graduate in the fourth quarter of 2011, as compared to only $4,026 for high school dropouts

  • Master’s degree graduates’ median income that same period was $15,733

  • 32% – The number of hiring managers who told Harris Interactive that open positions previously held by a high school graduate are now being filled candidates with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees

  • 40% – That same state, but narrowed to the field of healthcare

  • 3.8% – The February 2013 unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree-holders 25 and older, compared with 7.7% overall and 7.9% for high school graduates without a college degree.

Of course, the value of a college degree goes beyond employability and income. Why is earning your degree valuable to you?

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