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?
2019 College Scorecard
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.
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.