According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average U.S. full time worker earns $676 a week. You will probably not be shocked to learn that the Department of Labor found a direct correlation between workers’ educational level and their earning power. Workers who had failed to complete high school earned about $396 a week, nearly $300 less than the overall average. High school graduates who did not attend college earned $562 a week on average, and workers with at least a college undergraduate degree earned about $1,000 a week, $325 above the overall average.
Workers with graduate degrees earned $1,149 per week, about $220 more than those with bachelors degrees only.
Other research has determined that the differences in income by educational level are even greater, with college graduates now earning in excess of a million dollars more than high school graduates during their working lifetimes. And, all indications are that the earning differentials will increase significantly in the future.
The Washington Research Council predicts that, “higher education will become increasingly important for landing high paying jobs”, and that good jobs will require higher and higher levels of education in the future.
It also seems evident that workers with higher levels of education will be less likely to find themselves unemployed and have far less to fear from job outsourcing and the increased competition from rising global markets. But, higher earnings and improved job security are not the only advantages of a college education.
What about career and job satisfaction? A study by Reardon, Lenz, Sampson, and Peterson in 2000 found that people spend approximately 86,000 hours of their lives working. That is the equivalent of about ten years…way too long to spend in a career and/or a series of jobs in which one is not happy. Of course, those with the most education and those willing to continue their education and career training while working are the most likely to qualify for a variety of jobs, win promotions and/or change careers, maximizing the chance that their job satisfaction will be higher than their less educated counterparts.
All available evidence points to the conclusion that bachelors and graduate degrees open the doors to substantially higher earnings, increased employment options, job advancement and job satisfaction. As more employers seek educated workers, as more workers realize the benefits of education, and as financial aid has become available to traditional college students and adults seeking online degrees, the number of college students, including working adults, continues to soar.
The world is changing faster than it ever has in human history. Workers and employers must be able to learn new skills, adapt to new technologies, and meet the challenges of the global economy. To survive, and to prosper, a good education is more important than ever.