Monday, November 10, 2014

CLP: Community College Credentials Significantly Increase Future Wages and Employment

career ladders project  
    n e w s f l a s h    N O V E M B E R  7,  2 0 1 4

"Labor Market Returns to Sub-Baccalaureate Credentials: 
How Much Does a Community College Degree or Certificate Pay?" 
Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis | November 6, 2014 

Community College Credentials 
Significantly Increase Future Wages and Employment
A new study based on a longitudinal analysis of students' labor market outcomes shows there are high returns to most community college credentials.  Overall students who earned these had a better chance of earning increased wages, being employed and working more hours.

Dr. Mina Dadgar, a co-author of the study and Director of Research at the Career Ladders Project, notes that returns are highest for associate's degrees and long-term certificates (of more than one year).  Utilizing student data from the Washington Community College system, Dadgar and co-author Madeline Trimble, from the Community College Research Center at Teachers College at Columbia University, examined the records of more than 20,000 first-time students who attended  one of the 34 community and technical colleges in WA state during the 2001-2002 academic year, following them over seven years and analyzing labor market returns for different levels of credentials - including short- term and long-term certificates and associate's degrees, as well as different fields of study.

While long-term credentials and degrees showed clear wage and employment benefits, shorter-term credentials showed smaller economic returns, and more variability in their returns.  There was also greater variation in returns to wages by the field of study than by degree type.

"This underscores the importance of making such credentials stackable," says Dadgar.  "Students need to be able to count what they've earned toward the next level certificate or degree; that way, they can continue to advance in both education and earnings over time, without having to start over."

Understanding labor market returns is an important aspect of educational planning for students - and an arena of growing interest among policymakers.  This study is based on Washington state data; the authors recommend that other states conduct similar analyses. "The value of all credentials-including low unit certificates-should be tracked and shared with the public," suggests Dadgar.

To see the write up in the US News and World Report, go to

To see the abstract and the full article, go to:

To see a brief interview with Dr. Dadgar about the research, go to:

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