How Much Does a Degree Increase Your Earnings? (With Median Salaries)

Now more than ever, it’s important for job seekers to consider the financial rewards of education. With tuition costs increasing and the job market becoming increasingly competitive, it’s important for individuals to understand how much of a difference a college degree can make when it comes to earning potential. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various factors that can contribute to the financial rewards of a college education, as well as the differences between individuals with a degree and those without one. We’ll also look at potential career paths and salaries that a degree can open up, and answer the question of how much a degree can increase earnings. Whether you’re looking to make a career change or just starting out, a college degree can make a big difference in your pay scale and job prospects.

College-educated workers enjoy a substantial earnings premium. On an annual basis, median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders are $36,000 or 84 percent higher than those whose highest degree is a high school diploma. The earnings gap between college graduates and those with less education continues to widen.

How much does a degree increase your earnings?

Less than a high school diploma

This level is for people without a degree from an academic institution. A person who hasn’t earned their high school diploma hasn’t fulfilled the requirements to graduate. They might be a high school student right now or a dropout.

According to the BLS, those with only a high school diploma have the lowest earning potential. They have median earnings of $30,784 per year. They also have a higher risk of unemployment, with an average rate of 5 compared to people with higher levels of education. 4%.

High school diploma or equivalent

A high school diploma is a recognition of successful high school completion. It denotes that the holder has fulfilled all graduation requirements set forth by their state, which typically include passing grades in history, science, English, and mathematics. Alternatively, they might not have finished high school but have obtained the GED, the equivalent of a high school diploma, by passing the High School Equivalency Exam.

Earning a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification has the potential to raise yearly earnings by a little over 25% For those at this level, the median yearly income is $38,792. The unemployment rate also improves, to 3. 7%.

Some college

An individual at this level has taken some courses while attending college, but they have not yet received a degree. They frequently attend college or have postponed their studies. This level doesnt distinguish between two-year and four-year colleges. Despite not having a college degree, these people also experience an increase in median earnings. Their annual median income totals $43,316 per year. The percentage of increase compared to high school diploma holders is approximately 11% The unemployment rate has slightly decreased to 3 percent. 3%.

Associate degree

When an associate degree program is successfully completed, an associate degree is a college-level qualification awarded. These programs typically last two years or less. There are four types of associate degrees:

The coursework usually includes introductory material about an academic discipline. An associate’s degree frequently serves as the starting point for bachelor’s level studies. An Associate of Applied Arts or Applied Science, on the other hand, is more akin to a vocational degree and attests to the holder’s knowledge and abilities necessary to work in a trade.

According to statistics, those who complete associate degree programs typically make a little more money than those who only take a few college courses. People with an associate’s degree make, on average, $46,124 a year. Compared to individuals with less than a high school diploma, this is an almost 50% increase in earnings At this level, the unemployment level drops to 2. 7%.

Bachelors degree

Although students typically finish bachelor’s degree programs in three, five, or six years, a bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree awarded upon completion of a four-year course of study. Those pursuing a bachelor’s degree decide on a major, or a focused field of study. They must satisfy general education requirements, finish the coursework for their major, and take a minimum number of electives in order to graduate. There are more than 80 different types of bachelor’s degrees, and the training you receive during the program is typically sufficient to find employment in the majority of career fields.

If you have a bachelor’s degree, you might be able to command a much higher salary than someone with less education. In addition to an unemployment rate of 2. 2%, the median annual income for an individual with a bachelors degree is $64,896 per year Thats a greater than 40% increase compared to an associate degree A bachelor’s degree may increase an individual’s earning potential in addition to providing them with a wider range of soft skills like communication, teamwork, and critical thinking, which can result in salary increases in the future.

Masters degree

A master’s degree is a postgraduate credential or degree obtained after receiving a bachelor’s. In a master’s program, which typically lasts two years, your goal is to become an expert in a particular field of study or profession. You must complete a minimum number of credits toward a master’s degree, and many programs call for you to write a thesis, or a research paper, that synthesizes your education, demonstrates your mastery, and establishes your eligibility for degree conferral.

The earnings increase from the bachelors level to the masters level is approximately 20% Specifically, the median income for masters degree holders is $77,844 per year, and the unemployment rate is 2% When compared to those without a high school diploma, individuals at the masters level earn greater than 100% more

Doctoral degree

The highest academic degree you can obtain is a doctorate, which denotes that you are an authority in a field of study or profession. There are two types of doctoral degrees:

The duration of a doctoral program varies by field of study and institution. Average lengths are between four and eight years.

Theres a slight difference in earning potential between Ph. D. s and professional doctorates. Ph. D. holders make an annual median income of $97,916 while holders of professional doctorates make an annual median income of $96,772. This amounts to an approximately 25% increase compared to masters degree holders and a 218% increase compared to those with less than a high school diploma Additionally, at this level, the unemployment rate is only 1. 1%.

What is an academic degree?

When a student completes a level of education, they are awarded an academic degree as recognition. A degree is a specific type of credential awarded at the university level in academic parlance. However, when it comes to the workforce, employers may view any educational qualification as equivalent to a degree, including a high school diploma and a training certificate.

Other education qualifications that can improve your earnings

Your ability to earn more money depends in part on your education choices. Consider the following options if you want to increase your chances of earning more money:

Vocational degree

Specialized instruction provided to prepare a person for a trade is referred to as vocational education. Vocational programs focus on teaching required skills. A vocational program’s duration is largely determined by the institution and the subject. While some programs may only last a few months, others may last for several years. An individual is prepared to enter the career field they’ve studied for after receiving a vocational degree. Some common vocational degrees include those for:


A certified individual has finished a rigorous program or course in a particular subject matter, such as project management, computer programming, or coding. Numerous certifications are given out by recognized organizations and are recognized nationally. In addition to certification, a person frequently also holds a high school diploma or a college degree.

Worth of a College Degree | How to Calculate your Pay Raise! | Are the Benefits worth the Cost?

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