Studies show college degrees lead to higher earnings
09.16.2015 | By Rob Vanya
Education Jim Hodges received through the San Jacinto College’s construction management program helped accelerate and enhance his career. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
Many well-paying jobs require only a community college credential
PASADENA, Texas – Most people realize that university degrees lead to higher earnings, a fact substantiated by a Georgetown University report. But according to a more recent report by CareerCast, there are also 15 well-paying, high-demand jobs available that require only a one-year, or two-year college credential, such as registered nurses, or personal trainers.
San Jacinto College provides training for 11 of the 15 career fields listed in the CareerCast report, which was based on nationwide Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. The following are those 11 career fields, followed by the annual BLS median salary figures, and then by Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) average annual salary figures for the Gulf Coast region.
• Administrative Assistant – $35,330 (BLS); $33,918 (TWC)
• Bookkeeper (Accounting) – $35,170 (BLS); $38,615 (TWC)
• Computer Service Technician (Computer Information Technology) – $48,900 (BLS); $45,324 (TWC)
• Electrician – $49,840 (BLS); $47,065 (TWC)
• Medical Records Technician (Health Information Management) – $34,160 (BLS); $40,578 (TWC)
• Multimedia Artist (Graphic Designer) – $34,160 (BLS); $43,730 (TWC)
• Paralegal – $46,990 (BLS); $59,743 (TWC)
• Personal Trainer – $31,720 (BLS); $36,609 (TWC)
• Registered Nurse – $65,470 (BLS); $62,400 (TWC)
• Respiratory Therapist – $55,870 (BLS); $56,863 (TWC)
• Web Developer – $62,500 (BLS); $65,592 (TWC)
The Computer Information Technology (CIT) industry is a career field in particular that is currently experiencing high demand due to a retiring workforce. CIT positions offer excellent pay and relatively high job security, according to Tracy Hopper, who earned an associate degree in data processing from San Jacinto College in 1990, and works as application development assistant director for the Harris County District Clerk’s office. San Jacinto College CIT students can get valuable hands-on training through an internship program at the Harris County District Clerk’s office, and Hooper said the internships sometimes lead to full-time CIT programming positions.
San Jacinto College also provides training in many skilled craft trades that were not included in the CareerCast list, such as welding, pipefitting, process technology, construction management, and automotive technology. Wages and demand are consistently high for skilled craft workers in the greater Houston area, and many entry-level skilled craft positions require only a one-year occupational or technical certificate, or a two-year associate degree from a community college.
Additionally, San Jacinto College offers academic and technical transfer partnerships with many universities, which enable students to complete the first two years of college at low costs, and then seamlessly transition to baccalaureate and master degree programs.
Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College president and deputy chancellor, says it is not surprising that studies show college degrees lead to higher earnings. “College education provides a tremendous return on investment and attending college need not be cost-prohibitive,” she commented. “For over 50 years, San Jacinto College has provided quality education and training at low cost to students. Outstanding faculty, small classes, and the supportive staff and environment of San Jacinto College help people of varying backgrounds and experience to be successful and reach their goals of better careers, or transfer to universities. Our students are successful in the workplace and at the university, and they are productive citizens who give back to their communities.”
The success story of San Jacinto College graduate Jim Hodges exemplifies how college education leads to higher earnings. Hodges earned an associate degree in construction management from San Jacinto College in 2005 and now holds the position of vice president of JV Driver Industrial Services, where he manages a wide range industrial construction projects. He says his college training was the key to his rapid career advancement. “I look at education as an accelerator and a steppingstone to greater success and fulfillment,” Hodges commented. “My time at San Jacinto College enabled me to gain technical knowledge at a much faster pace. I was able to quickly become proficient in multiple areas of the construction trade, things like scheduling, blueprint reading, handling finances, etc. The College made me more professional and more well-rounded. Not only did I gain valuable technical knowledge of the industry, I also learned valuable leadership skills, as well as time management, social, and communication skills.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.