Does Education Pay?

2010 Eductation Pays

2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics Research: Unemployment and Salary

As a potential student, you may be wondering whether or not a post-secondary degree can actually help to increase your earning potential. While geographic location, prior work experience, industry, and specific job roles are all factors that make a significant impact when it comes to your career—your level of educational attainment also plays a strong role.

According to 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics research (pulled from their current population survey of annual averages for full-time wage and salary workers across all occupations age 25 and over), there appears to be a direct relationship between level of educational attainment and the median unemployment and salary rates.

Unemployment Rate and Education

The above graph indicates that the average unemployment rate in the US in 2010 was 8.2%, with unemployment decreasing as qualifications increase. Those with less than a high school diploma had a 14.9% unemployment rate, while at the other end of the education spectrum, doctoral degree holders had only a 1.9% unemployment rate.

At 7.0%, the associate’s degree is the lowest level of education below the average, while bachelor’s degree holders had a 5.4% unemployment rate and master’s degree holders had an impressive 4% unemployment rate.

Median Weekly Earnings By Degree Level

In reverse of unemployment rates, as educational attainment increases, so does income. According to the BLS, education pays in 2010. For median weekly earnings across degree levels, the average stands at $782.

While the median weekly earnings are $444 for those with less than a school diploma, the salary more than triples to $1,550 for those with doctoral degrees. Associate’s degree holders are only $15 dollars shy of hitting the average, while bachelor’s degree holders earn $271 more per week than the average worker.

Although the doctoral degree is considered to be the highest level of education attainment, it is interesting to note the those with professional degrees earn $60 more than doctoral degree holders per week, amounting to approximately $3,120 annually. Professional degree holders also earned $338 more than master’s degree holder’s and $572 more than those with only their bachelor’s.

What Does This Mean For You?

Based off the 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics research, education pays in higher earnings and lower unemployment rates. Even just getting an associate’s degree moves individuals below the average unemployment rate by 2.2%, while a bachelor’s degree can help workers to exceed the median weekly salary by 33%.