Vocational Certificates and College Degrees | The employment benefits – a reminder of old results

A research published in 1999 and funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, compares the various credentials, their benefits in relation to employment, and their role in the lifelong learning patterns of career-focused individuals.

Key points

  • Studies verify that education beyond high school results in higher earnings. (a 5-15% rate of return in additional earnings per year of postsecondary schooling).
  • The highest earnings benefits, however, are dependent upon certification or degree achievement (certificate completers: 15% gain; associate degree completers: 11% gain).
  • The earnings reward for college graduates, in general, are the highest (median earning for all college graduates were $40,753 in 1996…75 percent more than the $23,317 median for all high school graduates).
  • Not obtaining the degree results in some penalty.
  • Professional and vocational certificate holders exhibit a wide range of salary differences.
  • Certain professions such as accounting afford higher earnings to those who have met the state licensing requirements (e.g.,CPAs), especially when the state standards for licensing are high.
  • Employers are willing to pay significantly higher wages to workers who can find, organize, and think with a variety of kinds of knowledge.
  • Many institutions need crash courses in listening to markets, creating value-added programs, and identifying and assessing competency.
  • The emergence of the “postbaccalaureate certificate” reflects the importance society is placing on occupational skills and certificates that reflect competence.
  • These are offered by community colleges, corporate universities, or professional societies, providing a link in the individual’s career progression.
  • An increasing practice : “reverse transfer”: Countering the typical progression toward higher education that begins in the community college and leads to enrolment in a 4-year college is the college graduate who returns to postsecondary education to obtain more “marketable” skills.
  • Most of these reentering students are older, more likely to be married, and already employed, many in professional and managerial roles.

Source :

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