What an Education is Really Worth


Today, Trent over at TheSimpleDollar explored the “true” impacts of different levels of education in terms of earnings power:

Recently, I was browsing through some data from the U.S. Census when I stumbled upon a great table in the 2007 census data. On page 9 of this report, entitled Educational Attainment in the United States, one can find a very interesting table that describes the median earnings for workers aged 25 and over, sorted out by education.

For full time, year-round workers, here are the findings:

  • Workers without a high school diploma earn $24,964 a year on average.
  • Workers with just a high school diploma earn $32,862 a year on average.
  • Workers with some college and/or an associate’s degree earn $40,769 a year on average.

  • Workers with a bachelor’s degree earn $56,118 a year on average.
  • Workers with a higher degree earn $75,140 a year on average.

*Note that these numbers include all types of degrees and also include all workers aged 25 and over, which means that the number includes a huge range of career paths and stages on those career paths.

Now, even though I don’t find the actual dollar amounts to be anything new or all that compelling, I do find it quite interesting that people are starting to wake up and begin to understand how data or findings like these often provide as much harm as they do good with respect to the provided “truth”. In fact, the comments below the post are the most intriguing of the whole post. For instance, Julie writes:

#6 Julie @ 8:59 am May 4th, 2010
I’m not sure I agree, and I say this as someone with an M.A. in history. Definitely, completing high school is better than not completing high school, and having a university degree can give you a leg-up when looking for white-collar jobs. But I know way too many M.A. graduates who are working retail jobs or making far less than they’re worth. At my last “real” job, I was making $17 an hour as an editor. Then I worked for a month as a research assistant for a lobbyist group for $13 an hour. That’s less than half of the average wages for my education, according to what you list above.

The average person with a bachelor’s degree might make $56,000 a year, but that includes both the senior engineer making $100,000 and the English major working at a call center for minimum wage. At least in this particular case, I think the averages hide as much as they reveal.

So what do you guys think? Are these the numbers we should be providing on pamphlets to all private school freshman during their first day at college orientations? Or is there a deeper aspect of truth that noone’s really providing these kids? And also why are there rarely numbers provided by college recruiters on the typical earnings for entreprenuers or those that go to work in family businesses?

Check out the original post here:
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2010/05/04/what-is-an-education-really-worth/

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