Higher Education Only Equals Money With Experience

Photo by Muhammad Rizwan on Unsplash

A little over eight million California residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. Five million of those graduates are employed.  

However, even with a college degree, employers are looking for more than a piece of paper to hire someone. 

“Educators around the state are working to develop in students other important skills, like self-management, personal and social responsibility, and resilience” the California State Board of Education President, Linda Darling-Hammond said. 

Administrators and employers agree that a bachelor’s degree is still beneficial and likely to get you employed, but only if you do it right. 

“I am sure employers are looking for people who can communicate, individuals who are thinkers, self-motivated and who are flexible and adaptive” Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Ana College, Jeffery Lamb said. 

Current students say that there needs to be more than higher education as a way to receive better wages. Interpersonal skills and experience can go a long way. 

“A bachelor’s is a good thing to have. But I think nowadays it is all about personal skills, so just having a lot of work experience to have a taste of everything” third-year SAC student, Julian Chaves said. 

Earning a college degree is still viewed as a prestigious and useful route to find a job you desire. Also, most California students continue to pursue it to find a high paying job.

There are 81% (5.45 million) of bachelor’s graduates in California that are employed. Those with jobs, on average, get paid $57,000 a year. 

The pay difference between a degree and some college education is significant. Employees with some college education get paid $20,000 less than someone with a bachelor’s, and someone with only a high school diploma gets paid $10,000 less than a student with some college education. Some believe that bachelors can still get you what you want, but there are other routes.

 “This idea that a bachelor’s degree equals high wages was true back in the 80s but not in this day and age. You can earn a certificate that’s six to eight classes and enter a profession that pays very well,” SAC Counselor Daniel Peraza said. 

Some professions don’t look for a degree. Jobs as plumbers, automotive engineers or computer programmers look for the skills over a degree. There are boot camps for computer programmers and certificate programs for all sorts of engineering.

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SAC offers certificate programs from Accounting to Fire Technology and Computer Information Systems.

Certificate options are available around the state, and they do not require the two years of general education. 

“I am extremely happy with my decision to get my certificates because it gives me a big advantage over others in my industry who are trying to learn on the job,” said Jose Rubalcava who has a certificate in Commercial Refrigeration.

However, other occupations won’t bother to look at applicants without higher education. 

“I was a program director for a non-profit agency that serviced adults with disabilities. When we were hiring people if they didn’t have their bachelor’s we would not look at them” Santa Ana resident with a bachelor’s in Ministry, Patty Granger said. 

The average salary for a California resident with a High School diploma gets paid $28,700. Also, 65% of those with the qualifications are employed. Santa Ana has the second highest percentage in California of residents without a diploma at 44%. It is also the fifth lowest percentage of bachelor degree holders. 

College education equals employment. It may not be the ideal career, but there needs to be a start with an end goal in mind.

“If it means that you end up starting at the bottom and climb your way to the top, if you don’t start finding those transferable skills experience, it’s harder to get there. If a degree is part of that growth, great!” said Lamb. “Look for opportunities for growth that are related to your ultimate growth and just know that it is going to take some time to get there.”

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