Want a solid, middle-class salary straight out of college? Skip the last two years.
A site that analyzes state-level data of how much people earn a year after graduating college found some counter-intuitive results: Certain students who earn associate’s degrees can get higher salaries than graduates of four-year programs — sometimes thousands of dollars more.
“These numbers and the consistency of these numbers are surprising to me,” said Mark Schneider, president of College Measures.org and a vice president at the American Institutes for Research. College Measures aggregates anonymized education and earnings data to figure out who earns what after graduation.
Some of its results run counter to commonly-held assumptions. Community college degrees, long considered also-ran prizes in the race for academic achievement, “are worth a lot more than I expected and that I think other people expected,” Schneider said.
But there is a catch: You have to earn your degree in a technical or occupational program to earn anywhere near $40,000. That’s the approximate average earned by students who went to school and worked in the state of Virginia and graduated with two-year degrees in these fields between 2006 and 2010. Graduates of two-year nursing programs earned am average of $45,342. (Read more.)