Go Back to School and
Reap the Rewards of an Education

by David Cleary

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), men with bachelor's degrees earn 65% more than their counterparts with only high school diplomas, while women earn 71% more than their counterparts, women without degrees.

Twiddling your thumbs?

  • Are you a working adult who feels as if your career is going nowhere?
  • Do you have only a high school diploma?

If you answer "yes" to both these questions, it may be time to acquire some form of career education. Whatever the level of education you pursue, from certificate to 4-year degree, you will become more employable. Statistics show that those with a higher degree have a good chance of making more money than workers without any post-secondary education. In fact, NCES shows that, on the average, the more college education you complete, the greater your earning potential.

Something to think about

Your particular career can also play a part when you are deciding what level of college education to pursue. For certain careers, such as call center management, a certificate program may be all you need to advance professionally. For others, such as marketing, you may need to enroll in a bachelor's degree program.

The demands of a family and current job can also affect your decision. If, for example, you have children or elderly parents to care for, it may be harder to pursue a full-time college education. Some programs, however, allow you to take one course at a time. With the added convenience of the online format, you don't even have to travel to a campus.

And you may want to think about the money and time that you want to invest in your education. A bachelor's degree program can take years to complete, and can cost more than a certificate program. But the financial reward at the end can make the initial investment worth it.

The possibilities are endless

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs consist of a set of courses that can be completed in 6 to 9 months. Certificates enhance the job prospects of professionals; for instance, training in the management of business functions, such as call centers or operations and supply chains.

Taking just a few courses can result in a financial payoff. An Oklahoma State University study showed that workers who had completed some college work earned a yearly average of $3000 more than workers who had only a high school education.

Technical Training

Technical training programs range from diplomas to associate degrees. They take longer to complete than certificates, but give you a broader range of skills; for instance, broad training in computer networks or computer drafting and design.

The Oklahoma State study showed that workers with technical training degrees earn, on average, from $4000 to $6000 per year more than their counterparts with only high school diplomas.

Bachelor's degree

4-year degree programs can give you technical skills, as well as a broad education in the sciences and humanities. Examples of such programs include business management, criminal justice and many others.

The median weekly salary of workers with bachelor's degrees is $327 more than those with only high school diplomas. That translates to $17,000 per year. (The Bureau of Labor and Statistics)

You're never too old...

If you are hesitant to go to college because you're afraid you're too old, take heart in this statistic: the NCES reports that, in the year 2000, over 44% of post-secondary students were 25 or older. Age should be no barrier to your college plans.

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Why put up with an unsatisfactory job? Completing a certificate, training, or degree program can open up job possibilities in your chosen career--and provide big financial dividends.

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