Average Salary With vs. Without a College Degree

Many professionals cite “the ability to make more money” as the motivating factor behind why they chose to pursue a college degree. But does earning a college degree actually lead to a higher salary? And if so, how much higher? Is the increase in pay ultimately worth it—worth the time, effort, and money spent earning it?

However, students who drop out of college can expect a lower salary than those who complete their degree. Most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that workers with some college but no degree have a median weekly income of $833, versus $1,248 for workers with a bachelor’s degree.

The Most Successful People Explain Why a College Degree is USELESS

What is the average salary with a college degree vs. without?

The median weekly earnings for U.S. employees aged 25 and over, based on each level of education are:

Employees with less than a high school diploma

Employees who didnt graduate high school or have an equivalent degree have the lowest expected earnings, with only $520 a week on average. This means that their yearly earnings are a total of $27,040 per year, assuming they work and earn constantly all year round. Also, their unemployment rate is 6.5%, the highest out of all educational categories.

Employees with a high school diploma but no college education

Employees who graduated high school but did not attend any form of higher education can expect to earn $712 per week or $37,024 per year if they work constantly. Their unemployment rate is 4.6%.

Employees who attended some college classes but never graduated

Employees with some college education but who are lacking a degree earn an average of $774 per year or $40,248 per year, which is slightly better than high school graduates with no college education whatsoever. Their unemployment rate is also slightly better, at 4.0%. However, a common issue with people who partially attended college is that there is a high likelihood that they have accumulated debt from their college years, but lack the degree that would increase their income enough to make the debt more easily payable.

Employees who earned an associates degree

Associate degrees are the most basic form of college education and typically last two or three years. They can be pursued at some colleges and universities, but also at community colleges, vocational schools and technical colleges, depending on the preferred specialization. The average expected earnings for an associate degree graduate are $836 per week and $43,472 per year. Their average unemployment rate is 3.4%.

Employees who earned a bachelors degree

Bachelors degrees are the most common form of college education and typically require four years of full-time study, with some needing five years. The average expected weekly earnings for an employee with a bachelors degree on their resume are $1,173, a significant improvement from the average earnings of associate degree holders. Their unemployment rate is also significantly lower, at 2.5%.

Employers with a masters degree

A masters degree can be pursued after earning a bachelors level education, as a way of improving the students knowledge on the subjects studied during the bachelors program. The average expected weekly earnings for an employee who has earned a masters degree are $ 1,401 per week. Their unemployment rate is slightly lower than the rate for bachelors degree graduates, at 2.2%.

Employees with a professional degree

A professional degree, also called a first professional degree, is a degree that is pursued after earning your masters degree and is meant to provide training and preparation for a specific profession, like medicine or law. Employees with a professional degree can expect to earn an average of $1,836 per week and their average unemployment rate is 1.5%.

Employees with a doctoral degree

A doctoral degree is the most advanced form of higher education and is awarded to masters studies graduates who successfully complete and promote independent research, presenting it to a commission in the form of a dissertation. Employees who have earned a doctoral degree can expect to have average weekly earnings of $1,743 and an unemployment rate of 1.5%.

What are the other benefits of a college degree?

Besides higher expected lifetime earnings, earning a college degree can bring you other benefits. Some of them are:


How much do you make with a degree vs without?

Here are the median lifetime earnings of full-time workers by level of education: less than high school – $1.2 million. high school diploma – $1.6 million. some college, but no degree – $1.9 million, equal to about $47,500 annually.

Do people with college degrees make more money on average?

Men with bachelor’s degrees earn approximately $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. Women with bachelor’s degrees earn $630,000 more. Men with graduate degrees earn $1.5 million more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates.

How much more do college graduates make than non graduates?

College-educated workers enjoy a substantial earnings premium. On an annual basis, median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders are $36,000 or 84 percent higher than those whose highest degree is a high school diploma. The earnings gap between college graduates and those with less education continues to widen.

How much does the average American make without a college degree?

The Average Salary With a Bachelor’s Degree

Average earnings for workers with bachelor’s degrees work out to $67,860 per year. The unemployment rate for Americans with a bachelor’s degree is 2.3%.

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