According to CNN Money, community college grads with associate’s degrees are making higher salaries right out of school than graduates overall.
Yes, that includes grads from four-year, private universities, whose educations cost an average of $158,072 to the community college grads’ $6,262, according to The College Board.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reports that 30% of Americans with associate’s degrees make higher salaries than those with bachelor’s degrees. In Virginia, community college grads make an average of $40,000, which is $2,500 more than the average salary of someone with a bachelor’s degree.
The current demand for people with what are called “middle skills”—skills that only require the two years of an associate’s degree to obtain—is high. Professionals who are cashing in on this demand include lab techs, computer engineers, early childhood teachers, draftsmen and radiation therapists.
If you did shell out for an education at a private, four-year university, don’t get too discouraged: By mid-career, four-year grads usually catch up. Although it varies significantly depending on the profession, experts generally agree that people with associate’s degrees make $500,000 more during their careers than those with just a high school diploma, but $500,000 less than those with bachelor’s degrees.