Community college pays off for those who earn a vocational certificate or a two-year degree in a career field, Graduated Success, a report by the Demos policy center. Eight years after graduating from high school, 27 percent of certificate earners and 31 percent of associate’s degree holders earn more than the average bachelor’s degree holder.
The salaries earned by those with community college certificates in engineering and health care ($47,000 and $46,000 respectively), are close to what bachelors degree holders in the social or natural sciences earn, and are actually more than what someone holding a bachelors degree in education earns.
However, 38 percent of those who seek a vocational certificate and 58 percent of those who seek an occupational associate’s degree fail to earn a credential of any type within six years. That’s because 60 percent of community college students must “take remedial courses to make up for knowledge and skills they should have learned in high school, putting them at a severe disadvantage to pursue and finish specialized, high-paying credentials.”