Average wages in the first year after graduation for students employed in the state of Virginia
Students who earned an associate degree in Virginia Community Colleges from 2005-06 through 2009-10
Comparing the two types of degree programs, those who graduated from occupational/technical programs had higher average wages overall ($38,600) than those who graduated from bachelor’s credit programs ($32,800). Among those who completed bachelor’s-credit associate degrees, students in registered nursing programs had the highest average earnings ($49,100), whereas students in physical sciences programs had the lowest average earnings ($26,000). Among those who completed occupational or technical associate degrees, those in registered nursing programs again had the highest average earnings ($45,300), while those in business operations support and secretarial services programs had the lowest ($23,400).
Many students enroll in community colleges to gain new skills so that they can improve their employment prospects. Numerous studies have found that median earnings for individuals with associate degrees are higher than median earnings for high school graduates. Even individuals who attend community college but do not complete a degree have higher earnings than those whose education stops at high school. Fewer studies have examined vocational certificates at the national level, but their results are consistent with the research on associate degrees, with certificate recipients showing a substantial advantage in earnings.
Schneider, M, Massa, T.R., and Vivari, B. (2012). The Earning Power of Recent Graduates From Virginia’s Colleges and Universities: How are graduates from different degree programs doing in the labor market? College Measures.