by Kathy Kirchoff

Everyone wants to make enough money to take care of themselves and their family, and they don’t want to face unemployment. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that as your education increases, your wages are likely to go up and your chances of becoming unemployed go down. While there are never any guarantees in today’s labor market, education is still one of the surest means to a bright future.


Here are the statistics. People with less than a high school degree have an average unemployment rate of 14.6 percent, and an average wage of $11.35 per hour. Finishing high school bumps average hourly wages up to $15.65 (or $4.30 more per hour). The average hourly wage for someone with some college but no degree is $17.48, and getting a 2-year or associate’s degree can increase your hourly wage to $19.03, on average. Read more on why and how additional training beyond high school pays off. 


The greatest difference in earning power comes between finishing high school and college. Finishing college increases hourly wages to more than $25.00, on average. That’s a 64 percent increase over the high school diploma wage—a BIG reason to get that degree. Getting a master’s or a doctoral degree can increase your hourly wage to over $31.00 and $38.00, respectively. A six- or eight-dollar per hour difference might not seem like a lot today, but if you add that up over the course of a lifetime, the difference can total more than $500,000. These increases provide plenty of incentive to consider staying in school a couple more years.


Still need some convincing? Take time for a Reality Check to see how much it will cost to maintain the lifestyle you want to have.


One of the biggest myths about higher education is that it’s only for people with money. The truth is that financial aid is available in the form of loans, grants, or scholarships. Visit ISEEK’s Plan Your Education section to learn more and decide on your next step.

One thought on “Education DOES Pay

  1. I am currently working towards a Masters, while working at a high school in Minneapolis. I cannot believe how many times I have had to explain this idea to the students I work with. Oddly, I have never thought about looking up the numbers, and explaining it in terms of actual monetary figures. I think this information will be extremely helpful in demonstrating the importance of education.


Comments are closed.