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CTE Credentials Lead to Big Earnings


September 9, 2013


CTE Credentials Lead to Big Earnings

Lessons from College Measures, based on tracking return on investment data for postsecondary education from five states, won't be a surprise to CTE advocates: the value of short-term credentials; the importance of field of study to later earnings; and the wage potential of the T and E in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math]. 

According to author Mark Schneider, factors that influence earnings include degree level, degree field and from which school the degree was awarded:

  • Short-term credentials can be at least as valuable as bachelor's degrees. For instance, in Texas, Colorado and Virginia, graduates with technical or applied science associate degrees out-earn bachelor's degree holders by $2,000-$11,000. In Tennessee, associate degree holders' first-year earnings are more than $1,300 higher than those of graduates with bachelor's degrees. Certificate holders can also out-earn those with higher credentials, especially for certificates that take 1-2 years to complete.
  • Institutions matter, but not as much as might be expected, whereas field of study is very important. Data points to graduates with engineering, health care and business degrees earning more in the first year of employment than those with credentials in the liberal arts, and this earnings premium can last into the future.
  • While STEM matters, the S is not as in-demand as you might think. According to the publication, graduates with degrees in technology, engineering and mathematics are often far out-earning their peers in science fields.

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