Learning at a CCCS College Significantly Increases Earnings

DENVER – The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) recently conducted a comparison of wages of non-transfer adult students, age 25 years and older, before beginning their education at the system’s 13 colleges and after leaving, to determine the impact of a CCCS education on income. The study showed that an education from a CCCS college leads to increased earnings. The report is available at: http://www.cccs.edu/Docs/Research/WageOutcomes2010.pdf

Overall, CCCS students experienced a 17 percent increase in wages from before they started their education from one of the system’s colleges. This takes into account students who only took a couple of courses as well as those who received degrees from the colleges.  Wage gains were higher for students who earned a credential, up 31.5 percent.  Meanwhile, students earning Associate of Applied Science degrees had the greatest increase in wages, at 55.5 percent.

Associate of Applied Science Degrees (AAS) are generally career-oriented terminal degrees that specifically prepare students for a career rather than generally preparing them to transfer like most associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS) and associate of general studies (AGS) degrees. The CCCS top ten AAS programs include: registered nurse training; radiologic technology; fire protection technology; criminal justice/law enforcement administration; dental hygienist; management information systems; accounting technology; interior design; business administration and management; and, paralegal.

Remarkably, AAS Dental Hygienist degree-earners increased their wages 230 percent after their education at Colorado Community Colleges and registered nurse AAS degree earners elevated their pay by 108 percent. In fact the system’s entire cluster of Health Sciences AAS degree-earners showed an average wage increase of 97 percent (40 percent of the degrees awarded by CCCS are in the health care field). Students from the system’s entire Information Technology Cluster showed an average wage increase of 39 percent. Wages of those who were educated within the systems Manufacturing Cluster went up 84 percent.  Meanwhile, students earning a two-year certificate (e.g., an Emergency Medical Technician) from a CCCS college were able to increase their wages by 29.6 percent.

“We are pleased confirm that education in the Colorado Community College System leads to substantially higher wages for our students and that the competencies we teach are aligned with those Colorado employers value.  In these difficult economic times, it is gratifying that the colleges are making a difference in improving economic opportunities for our students,” remarked CCCS President Dr. Nancy McCallin.

Almost 40 percent of undergraduate credentials conferred by U.S. higher education institutions are below a bachelor’s degree. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for employees with two-year degrees/certificates is growing; constituting six of the 10 fastest growing careers.

A much cited report by Demos, a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization, found that one- and two-year degrees/certificates in fields such as health care and engineering can lead to higher salaries than many four-year degrees. In fact they found, 31 percent of associate’s degree holders earn more than someone holding a bachelor’s degree. For more information visit www.cccs.edu.

The Colorado Community College System comprises the state’s largest system of higher education serving more than 128,000 students annually. CCCS oversees career and academic programs in the 13 state community colleges and career and technical programs in more than 160 school districts and seven other post-secondary institutions The system’s colleges include: Arapahoe Community College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Community College of Aurora, Community College of Denver, Front Range Community College, Lamar Community College, Morgan Community College, Northeastern Junior College, Otero Junior College, Pueblo Community College, Pikes Peak Community College, Red Rocks Community College and Trinidad State Junior College.

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