How Much Money Does a Person Make with a College Degree?

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Most of us will agree that footing the bill for a four-year degree is a challenging undertaking. If you are looking at higher degrees, that bottom line goes up more. But is the cost worth the investment? According to data compiled over the past five years or so, the answer appears to be a resounding “yes”. Of course, the earning potential with a college degree will depend in part on the type of degree earned. It will also be tied to certain market fluctuations, since current “hot” jobs will vary somewhat from year to year. Take a look at these numbers to see how much money a person makes with a college degree and why it’s worthwhile to seriously consider higher education.

A US government document from a few short years ago had very compelling reasons for hitting the college campus. This report states that the average amount a person could earn with a high school diploma was about $1.2 million over a lifetime. Sound good? Not when you learn that a person with a bachelor’s degree earns an average of $2.1 million. That’s close to double, simply by investing a few years (and some cash) into the world of higher academia. Graduate degrees pay off as well, with a master’s degree earning a lifetime of around $2.5 million and a doctorate paying a whopping average of $3.4 million. The biggest winners were those who stuck it out for the professional degrees like law and medicine, with an average lifetime salary of $4.4 million.

More recent numbers also indicate which degrees are the most lucrative to pursue. I mean, we’re not all cut out to be doctors and lawyers, right? But that doesn’t mean you can’t select a degree program that offers some pretty good returns in the marketplace today. Do your research during degree selection process to make sure your degree will put you ahead in the work place. For example, although engineering hasn’t seen much of an increase in average starting salary, it is still one of the top payers with numbers in the $50-60,000 range. Technical degrees like computer science also remain a strong contender, with starting salaries in the $50,000 range.

However, salary is only part of the picture. To see how much money a person makes with a college degree, it is also wise to consider the stability of the market for a particular field. In these economic times, recession proof careers will become much sought after, even if the salary ranges are somewhat lower. For example, nursing majors can expect an annual salary right around $50,000, with a consistent demand in their profession. Teachers also fall into the recession proof category, with an average starting salary of around $43,000 according to some sources. Accounting and finance graduates earn around $48,000 on average, with another field that is sure to be in demand through any type of economy.

On top of the higher salaries college graduates enjoy, there is also the knowledge that a college degree is an excellent asset to any résumé. Employers prefer hiring college graduates as a rule, and that degree in hand will certainly give you the edge in any professional endeavor you choose to pursue. Is a college degree worth the time, money and effort? We say, without a doubt!