Study: Earnings of two-year tech grads top four-year students

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Sorry all you graduates of prestigious four-years colleges, but there is a new study that shows students with a two-year technical certificate often earn more, sometimes nearly double those with a bachelor's degree, in their first year in the labor market.

A comprehensive study of Texas colleges and universities provided to Secrets found that in some areas, two-year students earned $70,000 in their first year, $30,000 more than a student in the same field but who took four years to graduate. And even among two-year students, those with technical certificates earned significantly more than those with academic degrees.

The likely reason: students in technical programs focused on areas like health care or construction had more experience and education, both valued by employers.

The report, Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates of Texas Public Colleges and Universities, prepared by College Measures, a joint venture of the Georgetown-based American Institutes for Research and the Matrix Knowledge Group, is the latest to throw cold water on the value of four-year bachelor's degrees.

But add a few more years on for a graduate degree, said the study, and earnings soars above what four-year degree earners receive.

Mark Schneider, president of College Measures and a vice president at AIR, said that there is a "high labor market value of a technical associate's degree. Second, the data show that certificates can be a pathway to high paying jobs. And third, graduates who earned a bachelor's from most Texas campuses have roughly the same first-year earnings on average - regardless of the prestige of the school."