Non-Degree Credentials Hold High Value for U.S. Adults, Study Finds

Non-Degree Credentials Hold High Value for U.S. Adults, Study Finds

American adults who hold sub-baccalaureate certificates and certifications but no college degree report better employment and personal satisfaction than those with no college credentials, a report from the Strada Education Network and Lumina Foundation finds.

Based on data from a survey of fifty thousand adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who do not hold a postsecondary degree and are not currently enrolled in college, the report, Certified Value: When do Adults without Degrees Benefit from Earning Certificates and Certifications?, found that those who had a certificate had higher rates of happiness, marketability, and employment as well as higher incomes than those without a credential. Full-time employment rates were 85 percent for those with a certificate versus 78 percent for those without, while self-reported annual median income for those with a certificate was $45,000 versus $30,000 for those without.

While economic benefits varied significantly based on occupation and gender, some occupations showed an annual premium as high as $25,000, although others provided little or no advantage. The survey also found that the income premium within the credentialed population was significantly larger for men than for women.

"As the country redesigns policy and works to improve and expand postsecondary education and training, it is critical that we talk to education consumers about their experiences and the value they get from different types of education," said Carol D'Amico, Strada's executive vice president of mission advancement and philanthropy. "Through this new research, we're seeing that not only do short-term credentials and certificates deliver an immediate impact for adults looking to upskill, but they also have the potential to foster the sort of wage increases needed to sustain a family and power true social and economic mobility."

(Photo credit: Gettyimages, Johnny Greig)