People with an Associate’s degree may earn less in their lifetime, but they might just be earning more right now. New data shows that an Associate’s degree may impart the ‘middle skills’ which are the ticket to the middle class. “Nearly 30% of Americans with associate’s degrees now make more than those with bachelor’s degrees, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce,” reports Jon Marcus for CNN Money. “In fact, other recent research in several states shows that, on average, community college graduates right out of school make more than graduates of four-year universities.”
However, “Although these figures vary widely by profession, associate’s degree recipients, on average, end up making about $500,000 more over their careers than people with only high school diplomas, but $500,000 less than people with bachelor’s degrees, the Georgetown center calculates.” Keep in mind that a bachelor’s degree costs a lot less and can be earned later in life. “A two-year community college degree, at present full rates, costs about $6,262, according to the College Board,” reports Marcus. “A bachelor’s degree from a four-year, private residential university goes for $158,072.”
Many young Bachelor’s degree-holders are currently drowning in debt, either underemployed or unemployed. A recent study issued by the Harvard Institute of Politics indicates that 9.7% of Millennials are unemployed. 31.2% of these Millenials work on a part-time basis, according to the study.
The CNN article portrays community college as a ticket to the middle class. “The increase in wages for community college grads is being driven by a high demand for people with so-called ‘middle-skills’ that often require no more than an associate’s degree, such as lab technicians, teachers in early childhood programs, computer engineers, draftsmen, radiation therapists, paralegals, and machinists,” writes Marcus. “With a two-year community college degree, air traffic controllers can make $113,547, radiation therapists $76,627, dental hygienists $70,408, nuclear medicine technologists $69,638, nuclear technicians $68,037, registered nurses $65,853, and fashion designers $63,170, CareerBuilder.com reported in January.” However, it is still telling that those will an Associate’s still earn, on average, a half a million less in their lifetimes.