Formal Education Pays Off

Want to earn a living wage? You'll likely need more education than high school or GED. You may be looking at occupations that require a certification, degree, or specialized training.

As you weigh the pros and cons of going to school (pdf), think about how education pays. People with degrees tend to make more money and stay in their jobs.

Unemployment Rate* Education Level Typical Weekly Earnings*
14.6% Less than High School $454
9.7% High School Graduate $626
8.6% Some College, No Degree $699
6.8% Associate Degree $761
5.2% Bachelor's Degree $1,025
3.9% Master's Degree $1,257
2.5% Professional Degree $1,532
2.3% Doctorate $1,529

Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009 unemployment and wage data.

  • Unemployment rate is percentage of people who lost their jobs and applied for unemployment benefits. This rate is for those age 25 and over.
  • Typical weekly earnings is the median wage. This means half of those in a given group make more, and half less than the median. The earnings are for year-round, full-time employed workers age 25 and older.

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