How Important Is a College Education?

Relatively speaking, a college education is very important, especially if you'd like to boost your earning potential over the course of your working lifetime. Bachelor's, master's and doctorate's degrees will allow you to advance in your respective career, much more so than without a degree.

College Education Importance

The importance of a college education is dependent on what you want to do for a living. Pursuing an education can be important for expanding points of view, cultural perspectives, historical understanding, methods of thought and career-based understanding.

Consider what you might like to do for a living; if it involves the building trades or being a ship crewman, you don't necessarily need a traditional college education. These careers mostly require you to graduate from high school and complete an apprenticeship. However, many careers these days may require completion of at least a 2-year college degree program. According to College Board, prospects with a 4-year college education are twice as likely to beat unemployment.

High-Paying Careers

A list of the highest-paying careers is topped by various doctors, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists and orthodontists. To start a career and work toward success in these fields, you will need to pursue a medical degree after earning an undergraduate degree. Similarly, lawyers must hold 3-year law degrees.

Chief executive officers typically have graduate-level education as well. Engineers enter their field with bachelor's degrees, and if they wish to advance in their career, they may need to earn master's degrees. College Board also states that the median earnings for bachelor's degree holders without an advanced degree will be 65% more, over a 40-year period of being employed full-time, when compared to high school graduates.

Fast-Growing Careers

You may want to note that higher-level degrees don't necessarily equal better marketability in the employment sector. However, you do need to be aware that the career with the highest level of education may also offer the highest salary potential. The occupations in the following chart are ranked in order of expected job growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

OccupationPercent growth 2014-2024College Education Level
Wind turbine service technicians 108.0% Associate's degree/technical school
Occupational therapy assistants 42.7% Associate's degree
Physical therapist assistants 40.6% Associate's degree
Physical therapist aides 39.0% High school diploma/on-the-job training
Home health aides 38.1% High school diploma/formal training for certification
Commercial drivers36.9% High school diploma, truck-driving school, CDL license (heavy or tractor-trailer truck driver)
Nurse practitioners 35.2% Master's degree
Physical therapists 34.0% Doctorate's degree

Growing in Importance

As a higher percentage of Americans have gained some college education, more employers expect employees to hold college degrees. A special education aide, for instance, is now required by most employers to have at least a 2-year degree. Some child care centers may hire potential candidates without completing a college degree program, but may still prefer applicants to have completed some college education courses.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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