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Federal Study Highlights Connection Between Education, Income

A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that each progressive step up the educational ladder brings more income and less likelihood of unemployment



By Elizabeth Sanger
Posted 2012

Higher Education and Earning Potential
Higher Education and Earning Potential

The professional advantages of possessing any amount of higher education, whether a certificate or degree awarded by a traditional or online institution, are more pronounced than ever. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts it best on its website: “Education Pays.”

It can pay quite a bit, in fact, and in more ways than one. Not only does the average American’s income typically rise in direct proportion to educational achievement, so does his or her job security.

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According to a 2011 BLS population survey, 7.6% of Americans were unemployed at the time, and among those who weren’t, the median weekly income was $797. Americans without any college degree fell below both averages. Those who had associate’s degrees were closest to average of all the categories, which range from “no high school diploma” to “doctoral degree,” and each progressive educational category brought more income and less likelihood of unemployment.

Attaining Higher Education Shows Dedication and Resourcefulness

That’s no accident. Higher education can create productive, skillful and multi-talented workers, and employers know that. A degree or certificate is an investment: its achievement requires resourcefulness and dedication, particularly in the current economy.

Successful students invest time, money, and energy into higher education. Just like a career, an education is a long-term commitment—and that fact alone makes it extremely attractive to employers.

Further, the current trend toward professionalized degrees, designed to reflect the increasing specialization of the modern American worker, means that higher education is more likely than ever to provide employees precisely the skills and qualifications their employers require.

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Higher education can pay off for the employer as increased productivity and revenue, and it pays off for the employee as more pay, promotions and professional opportunities.

Programs to Help Potential College Students

Today’s employers are so cognizant of the long-term benefits of higher education that they often offer tuition assistance to their employees. Employers also understand that online degree and certificate programs offer the same—and often superlative—rigorous learning environments as traditional classrooms.

Online institutes of higher education are themselves a product of the economic climate in which they now flourish, and are therefore ideally positioned to offer students the skills and qualifications that climate demands.

Online degree and certificate programs can also provide an unparalleled opportunity for flexible, self-determined study. The student demographic has widened so significantly over the last two decades that today’s online classes might contain a working mother as well as a recent high school graduate, and online programs continually evolve to best accommodate that fact.

Online classes typically allow students to structure their study around their workday, rather than vice versa. Assignments are tailored to reflect the demands of the modern workplace while maintaining the flexibility modern students require. Many online programs run on accelerated semesters, offering three credit hours of coursework over eight weeks, instead of the traditional 15. Students are allowed to optimize their most valuable resource: time.

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The developments that modern technology and the current economic crisis have spurred in higher education make its benefits even more apparent to employers now than they were just ten years ago. Some employers see the big picture, and they are primed to invest in the long-term payoff of educated human capital.

Employees who want to excel in the current economic climate should be ready to make the same investment. They, after all, stand to gain the most: their professional and personal lives will benefit from higher education—and that’s a truly sound investment.

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