The Outlook for Jobs and the Value of a Degree

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They are intrinsically linked – the desire for a better future and the power of an education to get you there. A better future can mean different things to different people: a well-paying job, a career they love, the ability to provide for their family, pride in a goal accomplished, opening a door to a new experience.

The strong connection between higher education and the opportunities for a higher paying, more satisfying career is clear. This spring, it is expected that more than 1000 students will graduate with their degree, diploma or certificate from Eastern Iowa Community Colleges – well on their way to a more successful future.

grad4Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) is committed to helping area residents achieve a better future. Our programs, services, classes and facilities are all designed to bring that future closer:

  • Formal transfer and joint admissions agreements make it easy for students to transfer program credits to area private colleges and the state universities.
  • Our more than 30 career technology programs are designed to lead specifically into the world of work. Close relationships with employers ensure students are receiving the skills required in today’s work environment.
  • Affordable tuition – plus available scholarships and financial aid – means many students can complete their education at EICC debt-free.
  • Lots of options – multiple locations and start dates, daytime and evening classes, online courses, several majors and credentials available.

Jill Devore

Jill Devore, graduate of Muscatine Community College, capitalized on her Associate’s degree and is now working full time as a New Accounts Representative at Community Bank and Trust in Muscatine. As a working mom with three children, she appreciated the availability of classes close to home and online courses. “The best thing about attending classes there were the instructors and the staff, and the ease of getting the classes I needed,” she explains. “Following my experience at MCC, I had a much better understanding of what is needed and expected in the business world,” she adds. In addition to her AA in Business Administration and an AAS in Small Business Management, Jill also completed a Certificate in Entrepreneurship. “It’s important to make the most of the help and opportunities you are given, to work hard and take your education seriously. It is something that cannot be taken away from you.” she adds. With a firm foundation through her degrees with MCC, Jill is hoping to continue on to earn her Bachelor’s degree and to use her education to continue to help her community.

David Fuller

David Fuller

David Fuller, soon-to-be graduate of Clinton Community College (pictured here with the newest addition to his family – born just before this edition went to press!), has focused his studies on an Associate’s in Applied Science Degree in Engineering Technology. CCC was a great option for David in balancing his full time job and a growing family. “The instructors take an interest in students and are able to draw them into to the program,” he explains. “I worked full time while attending, so the flexible class schedule and support of the staff was important,” he adds. “It helped not only me but others in the class build confidence and see all the opportunities out there.” Because of his new skills, he has recently been hired into a new company while in his last semester – one of the 20 largest employers worldwide with excellent growth potential and wonderful benefits and co-workers. “There is a whole world out there waiting for you,” he adds. “These courses are in-demand and help prepare you to get your life moving.”

Occupational Demand, Educational Attainment, and Earnings

Labor market economists Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce have produced a comprehensive and detailed look at the future national job market and the relationship of employment demand to educational attainment. Their study, “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018”, included these two conclusions:

  • By 2018, the U.S. economy will create 46.8 million openings—13.8 million brand-new jobs and 33 million “replacement jobs,” positions vacated by workers who have retired or permanently left their occupations. Nearly two-thirds of these 46.8 million jobs—some 63 percent—will require workers with at least some college education.
  • By 2018, the postsecondary system will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than demanded by the labor market.

It is well established that postsecondary education is associated with increased earnings and upward mobility. While 65 percent of workers with a high school diploma and no college experience have household incomes placing them in the middle class or above, completion of the Associate’s degree raises this proportion to 80 percent.


What’s an Associate’s Degree Worth?

grad7These same economists have calculated the median lifetime earnings of workers at each level of educational attainment. This allows us to put a dollar amount on the value of education at each step. The economic benefit of additional education and training over a lifetime can be substantial.

On average, people with a high school diploma will earn almost $9,000 per year more than those who have not completed high school. Over a lifetime, this translates to over $330,000 in additional earnings.

Having some postsecondary education, even without earning a degree, adds nearly one-quarter of a million dollars to lifetime earnings.

Getting an Associate’s degree bumps this up another $180,000.

So an Associate’s degree is worth over $420,000 in lifetime earnings above what you can expect to earn as a high school graduate.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges offer the following options for college credentials:

Associate Degree – A two-year degree; EICC offers three different associate degrees: the Associate in Applied Science (AAS), the Associate in Arts (AA), and the Associate in Science (AS).

• Associate in Applied Science (AAS) – Career and Technical Education (CTE)

grad5The primary purpose of a curriculum leading to an AAS is immediate employment. The requirements for this degree are designed so that students will receive appropriate coursework preparing them to enter the job market upon completion of their program. Each program has specific requirements and these are listed in the catalog. These degrees are not specifically designed to transfer, but most EICC CTE programs have transfer options.

• Associate in Arts (AA) – Transfer Program

The purpose of the Associate in Arts Degree program is to provide the first two years of study for those students who plan to pursue a baccalaureate degree at a four-year institution. Students take general education required courses and several elective hours.

• Associate in Science (AS) – Transfer Program

The purpose of the Associate in Science Degree is to provide the first two years of study for those students who are pursuing a baccalaureate degree in the areas of science, math or engineering.

Diplomas and Certificates – One- or two-year programs lead directly to employment.

Students completing one-year programs receive certificates of completion or diplomas. Many of Eastern Iowa’s certificate and diploma programs are part of a laddered Associate’s (AAS) degree program. Students can complete certificates and diplomas along the way to earning their Associate’s degree.

The college also offers a select number of advanced credit certificates and degrees.

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