It pays to complete your degree: earning a degree or certificate from a California community college continues to deliver a remarkable return on investment, according to updated analysis on Salary Surfer data. The online tool allows students and the public to view aggregated median earnings of those who complete a certificate or degree in a specific community college discipline and then enter the workforce.
Students who complete an associate degree more than double their annual pre-degree earnings after two years in the workforce and nearly triple their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce. About 48 percent of students who graduated with an associate degree earned $56,000 or more annually five years after getting their degree. That is the median wage of someone with a bachelor’s degree living in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Students who complete a certificate nearly double their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce. About 44 percent of students who graduated with a certificate earned $56,000 or more annually five years after graduating.
The new Salary Surfer data are also available on the Here to Career mobile app. The app, created by the Foundation for California Community Colleges, in collaboration with the Chancellor’s Office and Young Invincibles, provides access to information about California Community College education opportunities and awareness of careers that can increase earning potential. Here to Career uses personalized career pathway matching features to expose students to diverse career options available in their area. This information helps students make informed education and career decisions that lead to greater economic opportunities and professional success.
“This proves once again that earning a degree or certificate from a California community college can lead students to a well-paying career,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said. “While potential earnings should not be the only factor in choosing a future career path, completing a degree or certificate from one of our 113 colleges pays off, for students, families and the state of California.”
Salary Surfer displays median annual incomes for those who complete 179 of the most widely enrolled program areas and do not transfer to a four-year institution.
The data show the median earnings for community college graduates two years prior to earning the award, then two years and five years after earning either a certificate or degree. Salary Surfer also provides information on which of the system’s colleges offer programs in a specific discipline.
Wage information comes from an agreement between the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the California Employment Development Department. For privacy purposes, all results are aggregated across campuses statewide and over five years. Additionally, all wages displayed have been indexed to current year dollar figures.