Does College Education Guarantee You Better Wages?

Does College Education Guarantee You Better Wages?

By: Alice Liang | October 24, 2018

According to most Americans, a college education is increasingly becoming more important than a high school education was a few decades back. A report by the higher education organization found that the majority of Americans agree that to stand a chance of getting and retaining a high paying job, a college education is a necessary ingredient.

America's Perspective

84% of those engaged said that a college degree is extremely important to get ahead. A slightly higher percentage (87%) concluded that the importance of a college degree has surpassed what a high school diploma used to be.

Although the general feeling in America today is that college education is important, the statistics from the report also found that Americans are also of the opinion that the lack of a college degree does not necessarily condemn you to failure. 67% of respondents believe there are still numerous ways one can succeed without having gone to college.

Away from surveys and reports, we sought to understand if there is any truth to the feelings of the respondents. For that, we took a look at employment data from the BLS to determine the highest median annual wages and came up with a list of 10 jobs that pay the highest median annual wage as seen on this infographic.

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As the infographic shows, 60% of the jobs on the list require a doctorate or a minimum of a university degree. That means that for you to stand a chance of earning some of the highest salaries in the country then college education should be a priority. This is a clear sign that although there might be other ways to accumulate material wealth, a college education is somewhat of a guarantee for a better job.

Besides doctorate degrees, a bachelor’s degree seems to be the minimum qualification needed for the bulk of the list above. In general, even the non-healthcare jobs on the list need a university degree. A high school diploma just won’t cut it here.

Additionally, a close analysis of the infographic also shows that job training comes ahead of work experience. This is more so for healthcare jobs which require internship or residency rather than job experience. Understandably, medical residencies are an intensive endeavor at the end of which a resident is more than qualified to treat patients on their own. Thus, in medicine, a residency replaces the need for multiple years of experience.

On the other hand, 80% of the non-healthcare jobs require a minimum of 5 years of work experience. Still, the question remains, what is the correlation between having a college education and earning a higher median annual wage?

Career Benefit

According to the U.S. BLS (Bureau of Labor and Statistics), college graduates aged 25 and above earn 45% more median weekly wages than high school graduates of the same age. Additionally, the BLS also stated that the 2017 unemployment rate among high school graduates stood at 4.6% while among college graduates, it was 2.5%.

Other than that, university degree holders enjoy more career choices and find it easier to transition into different career paths than those without higher education. And it doesn’t end there, the more you progress educationally, the better your chances of employment are and the higher you earn.

The same 2017 report by the BLS found that those who pursue masters degrees earn a median weekly wage of $1,401 with an unemployment rate of 2.2%, those with professional degrees earn $1,836 while those with a doctorate earn $1,743, with the latter two having an unemployment rate of 1.5%.

Of course, this statistics only reflect educational attainment. Otherwise, when coupled with apprenticeships and other on-the-job training, these salaries can go higher and the unemployment rates even lower.

In the end, both work experience and job training remain as extremely important factors in improving your chances of obtaining any of the highest paying jobs in the U.S.

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