Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does a College Degree Really Help your Career?

My ten year-old daughter knows in the abstract sense what I do. She knows I write resumes and that I help people “get jobs” (her words, not mine). At bed time last night she asked me if going to college is really important to having a career. Like every good parent I said, “Yes, of course.” However, it made me really think about her question, so I started some research.

With the cost of a college education rising by leaps and bounds every year, I sometimes wonder if anyone will be able to afford that education in the future. Did you know that Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Richard Branson are all college drop-outs? If these billionaires made it without a college degree, does someone who is targeting a middle class income really need a college degree?

Here are some general facts I found about the benefits of a college education.

  • It is estimated that a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn almost twice during their lifetime as much as those with a high school diploma. Someone with an associate’s degree will earn almost 25% more than just a high school diploma.
  • Positions that require a college degree are not only higher paying. These positions often offer better health care and life insurance as well as retirement benefits.
  • A college education does not guarantee a job or job security. You must do your research before pursuing an education. Conduct your labor market research, verify the career’s outlook in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and be sure that the future growth for the industry is solid.
  • People without a college degree are more likely to perform unskilled labor positions. These are most often the types of positions that are being outsourced to other countries or being replaced with technology or automation.
  • The amount of money you will make in your career of choice must make sense in terms of the cost of the degree you intend to pursue. Once again, conduct your labor market research before you make a decision.

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