One Quarter of Americans Have an Industry Credential–and They Earn More Money

0 January 29, 2014  featured, Studies

According to the first federal survey report ever released on non-degree credentials, 25% of working Americans hold an “alternative” post-secondary credential (professional certifications, licenses and educational certificates).

While alternative credentials were more common among adults who held an associate’s degree or higher, more than 11 million adults with a high school degree or less held a professional certification or license in 2012, leading the United States Census Bureau to conclude:

“If this alternative credential were incorporated into an expanded measure of education, these 11.2 million people might be re-categorized into the “more than high school” category, representing a shift of almost 5 percent of the adult population.”

These alternative credentials are independent of traditional college degrees, therefore they are typically ignored when researchers measure the impact of higher education on the economy. This is one of the fatal flaws that makes it difficult for the American public to see the value in career-specific training–paths that are likely to lead to increases in expected future earnings often are only linked to post-secondary education.

This misleading information can be harmful for those students who may not be interested in a four-year degree but don’t want to sacrifice their earning potential. Here at WF_C, we have recently reported the earning potential of a technical education and the Census Bureau’s report echos those findings, further reinforcing the positive impact of non-degree credentials on wage growth:

“The report shows that, in general, these alternative credentials provide a path to higher earnings. Among full-time workers, the median monthly earnings for someone with a professional certification or license only was $4,167, compared with $3,433 for one with an educational certificate only; $3,920 for those with both types of credentials; and $3,110 for people without any alternative credential.”

Read the entire report here.


Mike Glavin

Mike Glavin

Contributor since July 2013

Mike is the Director of Workforce Policy at Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

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