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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

California Community College Degree Recipients Earn a Median Salary of over $50,000 annually

19 Jun 2013 2:47 PM | Anonymous

By Lisa Raufman

I am a Community College Counselor and am happy to share a new resource with you that provides up-to-date information about the value of a community-college degree in California, The website found at, provides the following information:

  • Salary Surfer is a groundbreaking online tool that allows students and the public to view the aggregated median earnings of those who complete a certificate or degree in a specific community college discipline and then enter the workforce.
  • The new tool displays median annual incomes for those who complete 179 of the most widely enrolled programs and did not transfer to a four-year institution. Salary Surfer shows the median earnings for a community college graduate two years prior to earning a certificate or degree, then two years and five years after earning a certificate or degree.
  • An analysis of the data found in Salary Surfer shows the tremendous return on investment provided by community colleges: 
    • Students who complete an associate degree more than double their annual pre-degree earnings after two years in the workforce and nearly triple their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce. 
    • Nearly 45 percent of students who graduated with an associate degree earned more than $54,000 annually five years after getting their degree. That is the median wage of someone with a bachelor’s degree living in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 
    • About 25 percent of those graduates with associate degrees had median wages of more than $77,000 five years after graduating. That is higher than the median income level for those Californians with a master’s degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 
    • Median wages five years after award for students with associate degrees in vocational disciplines was $61,600 compared to $39,300 for those with non-vocational associate degrees. 
    • Associate Degrees with the highest median incomes five years after award include: Electrical and Power Systems Transmission ($96,200);  Physician Assistant ($95,700); Radiation Therapy Technician ($91,300).
  • Future earnings potential can be valuable when making decisions about which educational discipline to pursue, but it should not be the sole determiner. A student’s interests and aptitudes also need to be factored in when making these decisions.
  • When looking at data on Salary Surfer it is important to remember that wages of students who transfer to four-year institutions are not included, nor are self-employed workers. With the release of Salary Surfer, which can be found at, and the earlier release of the Student Success Scorecard, which measures student outcomes at all 112 colleges, the California Community Colleges becomes the most transparent and accountable system of public higher education in the nation.

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