What Two-Year Degrees Pay Off? Think Computers and Engineering

March 6, 2012

So your child isn't ready for a four-year degree? Don't despair. New data from the Census Bureau suggest that two-year degrees aren't that shabby. In fact, a two-year degree in a STEM field may lead to a bigger paycheck than a 4-year degree in some non-STEM fields.

Here's how the degrees stack up. The mean monthly income of someone with an Associate's degree in computers was almost $5000. in 2009 In engineering, it was about $200 less. A Bachelor's degree in the liberal arts yielded just over $5000/month. A Bachelor's in education? Just over $3,800.

This is certainly not to diminish the value of a 4-year degree in the liberal arts or education. Jobs are worth more than just their earning power. That said, the Census Bureau's findings should remind us that many pathways to prosperity lead through two-year degrees, particularly in STEM fields. 

And here's a bonus math lesson. The Census Bureau's report finds that the mean monthly income of someone with an Associate's degree in the liberal arts was $6,156. It also finds that the median monthly income of a person with that degree was $3,240. What are the chances that that mean monthly income figure is a typo?

Either that, or a bunch of 1 percenters hold Associate's degrees in the liberal arts.

Hat tip: Jason Koebler.

Tags: higher education, computer science, engineering