Education for Job Advancement

Turn on the news at any time during the day or night and you’re sure to hear a newscaster talking about the high cost of attending college, the fact that schools across the United States are continually increasing their tuition rates by large percentages, and that students are graduating with college degrees along with tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.

These news stories are all negative, but in case you never realized it: The news THRIVES on reporting negative information! Anything that is deemed downbeat, pessimistic or damaging is always going to be the first story to be reported at the top of the news hour or to be placed on the front page of the newspaper. Why? Because negative and “scary” information is what grabs the attention of viewers or readers. And, today’s news is all about grabbing your attention, right?!

Who Makes More?

Based on your own personal knowledge, and not looking at any of the published statistics, who do you think earns more (on average)? An individual with a high school diploma or a person with a college degree? If you answered “a college degree,” you are correct.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics:

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, education pays.

The BLS’s website contains a published chart that can be viewed by the public.  This chart compares a person’s educational level to the unemployment rate and to the person’s median weekly earnings potential.

The BLS’s chart clearly shows:

  • As the education level goes up, the unemployment rate for that sector goes down.

  • As the education level goes up, the earning potential for that sector goes up.

The United State’s Census Bureau:

One of the reasons the United States spends time and money on conducting a census every 10 years is to gather important and pertinent information about American citizens. Some of the questions on the census form ask about education and household income. Based on recent findings, the Census Bureau’s website contains a public document that confirms the relationship between people’s education level and their annual earnings.

According to the report published by the Census Bureau, a people’s level of education correlates positively with their annual earnings.  A chart within this document shows that the higher the education, the higher the annual earnings.

  • In fact, the report published by the Census Bureau also lists the median total lifetime dollars earned by those with high school diplomas, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and higher-level degrees.  The statistics are staggering: A person with a high school diploma has a median lifetime earning potential of approximately $1.3 million dollars, but a person with a bachelor’s degree has a median lifetime earning potential of approximately $2.3 million dollars. For those with master’s degrees and doctoral degrees, the median lifetime earning potential numbers are even higher.

A College Degree is More than a Piece of Paper

The purpose of enrolling in a degree program is to gain an education. But that is not the only reason that college degrees are beneficial. It is true that students enrolled in school will learn the skills they need to complete specific jobs. However, attending college also requires students to develop the following proficiencies:

  • The ability to study.

  • The ability to find information in a library.

  • The ability to arrive on time and attend scheduled classes.

  • The ability to give oral and written presentations.

  • The ability to work in a group successfully.

  • The ability to deal with conflicts that may arise as a result of differing opinions on how to complete a project.

  • The ability to fill out forms.

  • The ability to read and understand complex information

These competencies, in addition to others that are acquired while in college, are not specifically related to the student’s major, but they are skills that are developed as a consequence of being enrolled in school.  Such skills will help individuals succeed and thrive when they enter the workforce.

When the Unemployment Rate is High Employers Pick Educated Candidates

In an economy with a high unemployment rate, every job opening receives dozens (if not hundreds) of applications. Many applicants are not just qualified for the position – they are OVER-qualified for the position. Some employers shy away from hiring over-qualified or over-educated people for low-level jobs, but many employers are happy to hire college graduates for jobs that require only a high school diploma. If for no other reason, however, a college degree on a resume looks good and is likely to qualify a person for more employment opportunities.

In a poor economy, employers know they have the upper hand when it comes to selecting people they want to interview.  For any job, most employers are likely to choose an eager college graduate before they would choose a high school graduate. The mere fact that an undergraduate degree was earned is proof that the job applicant is hard-working.

Does an Education Equal a Guaranteed Promotion at Work?

Nothing in life is guaranteed, and a college degree does not necessarily mean you will eventually be in charge of the company that currently employs you. Take a look at Bill Gates, one of the founders of Microsoft Corporation. Mr. Gates dropped out of college to launch one of the most successful businesses that has ever existed. However, Bill Gates’ story is unique. The bottom line is that earning a college degree does not guarantee a job or a promotion, but it does open doors for people wanting to work in respectable professions and it increases people’s chances for professional success.


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Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.