Generally speaking, the more education you receive, the higher your earnings. Years of data collection by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics bear this out.
Yet what is generally true is never always true.
Data from the State University of New York show some Finger Lakes Community College graduates make more after two years of school than others do after four years. For example, the median wage of all SUNY four-year graduates three years after college is $46,253. By contrast, three years after earning a two-year degree, median wages are $60,081 for FLCC nursing alumni; $46,289 for our mechanical technology alumni and $48,478 for our instrumentation and control technologies alumni (that program is now called smart systems technologies).
FLCC’s information technology graduates have a $45,665 median wage three years after completing their associate degrees. One of our current IT students, Justin Casselman, is already working in the field at Rochester Regional Health and has just been given a promotion. It is great for us to see how much Justin enjoys his work and how quickly he is advancing — even with a few classes to go to finish his associate degree.
A recently released study by the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce titled, “The College Payoff: More Education Doesn’t Always Mean More Earnings,” makes it clear that a wide range of factors determine how much is deposited in your bank account on payday. Sixteen percent of high school graduates, 23 percent of workers with some college education and 28 percent of associate degree holders earn more than half of all workers with a bachelor’s degree.
Students can also sign on directly into apprenticeships with electricians, plumbers and others in the trades and do very well. Of course, we hope that as their businesses grow or their lives change, these tradespeople consider some FLCC classes in business administration, marketing and other fields. We also encourage our two-year graduates to consider transferring to a four-year school, depending on their interests and aspirations.
More education is often the best bet, not just for your income, but also for your quality of life. That means doing research about the types of education and associated costs, the demand for certain skills and the starting and median salaries for various careers.
Young people should be encouraged to explore a full breadth of options from trades through professional degrees. General truths, backed by data, are a good place to start, but they are not true for everyone.
Robert Nye is president of Finger Lakes Community College. The Board of Trustees is Chair Stephen Martin, Vice Chair Joan Geise, Secretary Donald Cass, Geoffrey Astles, George Cushman, Santa Abraham, Barbara Hamlin, Donna Mihalik, Richard Russell and Sophia Parshall."