August 30, 1999
Is it possible for a worker to have high earnings without a bachelor's degree? For a small proportion of workers without a degree, the answer is "Yes."
Last year, the median earnings for all college graduates were $821 a week. Of full-time workers age 25 and older without a bachelor's degree, 15 percent earned more than $821 a week in 1998. However, 62 percent of workers without a degree had weekly earnings below $572 per week, which was the median for all workers age 25 and over.
Workers with high earnings and without a degree can be found in a variety of occupations. Examples are computer programmers, electricians, firefighting occupations, real estate sales occupations, and tool and die makers. Although the majority of workers without a degree in these five occupations do not have high earnings, in 1998 there were at least 50,000 people in each of them who did not have a bachelor's degree and who earned more than the median college graduate.
These data on earnings are from the Current Population Survey. The above figures are for full-time, year-round wage and salary workers age 25 and over. Find out more about earnings and education in "High earning workers who don't have a bachelor's degree (PDF 275K)," by Matthew Mariani, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Fall 1999.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Editor's Desk, High earnings without a college degree? on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/sept/wk1/art01.htm (visited August 22, 2014).
This edition of Spotlight on Statistics examines labor productivity trends from 2000 through 2010 for selected industries and sectors within the nonfarm business sector of the U.S. economy. Read more »