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A 4-year college degree is not for everyone. At Ididio, we have learned which certificates and associate’s degrees pay off.

Each dot in the graph below represents a broad area of study. The large dots represent popular degrees, and the dots to the right are those that reported the highest earnings across schools that offer this degree.

Head to our next section to learn more about the careers and specific programs you can choose.

Which certificate and associate’s programs lead to the highest starting salaries?
$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Starting SalaryInstallation, Maintenance, & RepairConstruction & ExtractionBuilding and Grounds Cleaning & MaintenanceTransportation & Material MovingProductionPersonal Care & ServiceFood Preparation and Serving RelatedManagementOffice & Administrative SupportSales & RelatedArts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, & MediaLegalEducation, Training, & LibraryProtective ServiceCommunity and Social ServiceHealthcare SupportHealthcare Practitioners & TechnicalFarming, Fishing, & ForestryLife, Physical, & Social ScienceArchitecture and EngineeringComputer & Mathematical
2019 College Scorecard
2018 IPEDS

Start by choosing a career area that most interests you.

The table lists more specific careers within the area you’ve chosen.

Check a specific career, and the educational program or programs that prepare you for that career will appear in the final table.

You can also discover careers using our career explorer.

Choose a degree to explore
First, select a career area
Architecture and Engineering
Then, select a degree dot or use this list
$0$20,000$40,000$60,000Starting SalaryArchitecture and Engineering
Careers recommended for those studying Computer Engineering Technologies/Technicians.
Check or select a career to see all associated training
Show programs for this career
Select a row to learn more about this career!
Salary distribution for people with this Career
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
No degree
Associate's degree or certificate
Growth Rate
The projected percentage growth in employment over the next 10 years
Annual anticipated employment
2018 BLS Employment Projections
2018 BLS Occupational Employment
Specific programs recommended for the career Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians.
Check any career in the table above to see associated training opportunities

To create the first chart, we used the Department of Education’s College Scorecard which provides program-level starting earnings and accumulated federal student loan debt at the school level. This data is only available for individual programs that are large enough that this data can be shared without threatening student privacy. We created a weighted average of each school/program’s reported median starting salary and median cumulative federal loan debt using the number of students reporting this data as the weights. Schools that could not provide this data were excluded from the calculation. The number of certificate and associate completions in each degree was calculated from IPEDS 2018 completions data.
The connection between degrees and careers was informed by the CIP-to-SOC crosswalk which is available from the Department of Education. CIP program designations are the basis for all program completions reported by institutions in higher education to the Department of Education. The full CIP classification consists of 6 digits, but presumably in the interest of balancing robust data collection with student privacy concerns, the College Scorecard program-level data is reported at the 4-digit CIP level. For each CIP-4 College Scorecard designation, we found all corresponding CIP-6 programs, and we then used the CIP-to-SOC crosswalk to connect the College Scorecard degree reporting to associated jobs.
The data displayed in the graphics and tables has been updated since the recording of the story video to reflect new program designations available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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