Tech Training May Provide Fatter Paychecks Than 4-Year Degrees, Study Finds

May 7, 2013 at 1:39 am 3 comments

I find the result dubious, because they took only starting salaries as the comparison point.  Do the following years leave those with shallower education “stuck in the shallow end”?  But the point quoted below is clearly right — we need to know more about the downstream salaries.  I’m not sure that we don’t have the data to answer the question.  Aren’t there salary surveys in the Tech industry all the time?  Doesn’t the BLS know about salaries?

The College Measures study makes the case for looking at the short-term gain. It found that, one year after graduation, those with two-year technical degrees earned, on average, more than $50,000, about $11,000 more than graduates with bachelor’s degrees. And compared with graduates of two-year colleges who had focused on academic subjects, those with technical degrees were making about $30,000 more.

Those who went on to receive master’s degrees earned, on average, $63,340, or $24,000 more than the median first-year earnings of those who stopped with a bachelor’s degree.

Mark Schneider, president of College Measures and a vice president of the American Institutes for Research, acknowledged in an interview on Thursday that the salary someone makes one year after graduation doesn’t necessarily reflect a person’s lifetime earnings potential. Many educators point out that, with rapidly changing work-force needs, students who complete narrowly focused technical degrees or certificates might land lucrative jobs right away but struggle to move on if those jobs dry up.

“We’ve all heard about the philosophy majors who start out as baristas at Starbucks and go on to become barristers, and the person with a technical degree who’s going to be replaced by robots,” Mr. Schneider said. But when it comes to tracking salaries 10 years down the road, “the truth is, we don’t know.”

via Tech Training May Provide Fatter Paychecks Than 4-Year Degrees, Study Finds – Students – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Baker  |  May 7, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Yes, look at what plumbers, auto mechanics, electricians and carpenters make. I say this not to degrade these professions. I envy them. Skilled workers have always been of high value, and do require education…i.e. there are no idiot electricians.

  • 2. Dennis Frailey  |  May 7, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Not being a subscriber to the Chronicle, I was unable to see the entire article. My first question is whether they are comparing people with similar degrees or are they comparing the average college graduate with a technical 2 year degree. But even assuming they are comparing apples and apples, the results don’t surprise me. In my popular ACM lecture on careers in computing I repeatedly emphasize the difference between a job and a career. I have many years of experience in two high-tech firms and saw how one can hit a careeer plateau if one’s knowledge, education and skills are too focused. But that includes the technical whiz who got all A’s in technical subjects but can’t give a persuasive and clear oral presentation or produce a grammatically correct and concise written report.

    However, one’s educational experience can only do so much. The most important factor is the individual and his or her native talent. The truly talented and motivated individual can move up the ladder regardless of educational background and the truly untalented or unambitious individual can fail no mattter what their educational pedigree. Or as I like to put it: it takes a really bad school to ruin a truly good student.


  • 3. kevinwraney  |  May 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

    This can also be added to the discussion about graduating from the “School of Hard Knocks.” Many people with technical degrees I have run across either stay in that career or branch out with some complimentary technical training. An electrician learns carpentry or a plumber also becomes an electrician. The bigger lesson I learned from these folks is about survival and figuring out how to play the career game so they can enjoy their own hobbies and families.


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