Why you shouldn't bother with that bachelor's degree
A new study suggests that those with a technical 2-year degree can earn more in their first year than new grads with a bachelor's degree.
This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.
But it all pays off in the end, right? That bachelor's degree is the only way to land a prime job, and employers won't give you a second glance without one. It's the line we've been feeding ourselves and our kids for at least as long as since I was in high school.
What if it's not true?
What if you could earn just as much, if not more, by going to school for less than half the time? That's the suggestion of a study published this month by the American Institutes for Research. It found that while bachelor's degrees have their place, graduates may find their first-year earnings would be more with a technical associate degree.
Some associate degrees have an $11,000 advantage
To be clear, the AIR study isn't a comprehensive review of data from all 50 states, but it does provide an intriguing case study based upon information from Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
According to the research, in all of those states except Arkansas, first-year earnings were higher for graduates with an associate degree than for those with a bachelor's degree. The difference was most striking in Texas, where those with a technical associate degree earned $11,000 more in their first year working compared with those leaving school with a four-year degree.
Overall, the AIR found the following differences in first-year earnings in the five states:
- Arkansas -- $31,430 with an associate degree versus $32,784 with a bachelor's degree.
- Colorado -- $45,889 with an associate of applied science degree versus $38,860 with a bachelor's degree.
- Tennessee -- $38,954 with an associate degree versus $37,567 with a bachelor's degree.
- Texas -- $50,827 with a technical associate degree versus $39,725 with a bachelor's degree.
- Virginia -- $38,551 with a technical associate degree versus $36,472 with a bachelor's degree.
In addition to looking at first-year earnings of graduates with two-year degrees compared with four-year degrees, the AIR considered the earning potential of specific certificate and associate degree programs.
If the study findings are to be trusted, students looking for a healthy paycheck may want to head to Texas, where the highest paying certificate and two-year degree programs were found. The Lone Star State boasts the following first-year incomes for these certificate and associate degree holders:
- Nuclear/nuclear power technology/technician AT -- $98,226.
- Fire services administration AT -- $90,317.
- Fire prevention and safety technology/technician AT -- $87,823.
- Communications systems installation and repair technology certificate -- $78,515.
On the other hand, if you enjoy eating ramen noodles, you may want to earn a bachelor's degree in music performance. In Texas, first-year income for graduates with that degree was a paltry $15,053. Other low-paying bachelor's degree programs include the four-year dietitian degree in Arkansas, which earns only $19,808 in the first year, or a bachelor's degree in photography, which will get you a mere $20,442 in Virginia.
Don't give up the dream of a four-year degree yet
While the AIR research certainly tarnishes the ideal of the bachelor's degree as the gold standard of higher education, don't totally dismiss the idea of a four-year degree just yet.
Certainly, government statistics support the idea that a bachelor's degree offers more income-earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bachelor degree holders earn a median of $1,066 per week while workers with associate degrees have median incomes of $785 per week.
Instead of taking the four-year degree off the postsecondary table, the takeaway for students and parents may be to forget the automatic assumption that a bachelor’s degree is the only way to go. Certainly, associate and certificate programs shouldn't be treated like second-rate citizens in the world of higher education.
Before you drop $34,620 for a bachelor's degree -- the average cost of four years of tuition and fees at a public university, based on 2012-2013 data from the College Board -- see where $6,262 and an associate degree will get you.
More on Money Talks News:
A bachelor's degree is good to have in some fields, but the trades have been sorely neglected.
Welders, machinists, plumbers, electricians,and technicians of all kinds can write their own ticket because there is such a shortage.
It seems people think they are too good to get their hands dirty.
there's no way you can make such a blanket statement. too many factors involved, including luck, placement, geography, talent, work ethic, ...the list goes on.
the third richest man in France didn't graduate high school, while Dr. Maurice Johnson, phd from Cleveland, is homeless.
In the short run, yes. But if you do not know how to deal with and manage people along with an understanding of business, after sometime you will stagnate.
A technical Bachelors lifts the ceiling down the road.
Of course if you wish to remain a tekkie.....by all means you can make a nice living.
Either way......GO TO SCHOOL.
The article is misleading. What is does not say is that if you continue to a B.A. or
especially a B.S. in the same degree that you have your A.A. you have a substantial
larger chance of getting a job to begin with. Many employers require a bachelors
begree as a minimum. Others may hire you with an A.A. but require you finish your
degree within 2 or 4 years. Your pay will be greater, plus the big surpise is, it's not
over, a graduate degree in the sciences is especially appealling. The job market
sometime dictates that higher degrees are not worth it. When I was hired in my
current profession they would not hire a person with an M.B,S, or if they did they
paid them the same. That soon changed.
An advanced degree is always important and addittional degrees after that will only
increase your knowledge and ability to get better jobs.
The A.A. only is good enough was bunk in the 70's and it's even more bunk now.
Another point to consider, and I think most economists would agree, is that many if not mosT jobs that begin with a higher level of pay offer a lower rate of pay as time goes on, or less opportunity for advancement, than those that start at a lower pay level. This is the case with many two year compared to four year opportunities.
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