Labor market data from the last decade confirms that high school graduates don’t necessarily need to attend a four-year college in order to access good-paying careers, Bryan Goodwin writes in the May edition of Educational Leadership. While many jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees do pay quite well, students who instead earn two-year degrees or complete an apprenticeship/training program in high-demand fields can often out-earn their university peers. If more high schools offered more well designed CTE experiences, Bryan writes, they’d be helping lots more students land rewarding work.
Citing a study by Mark Schneider, now head of the federal Institute of Education Sciences, Bryan shows that salary averages can be deceiving: Two-year degree holders in vocations aimed at “fixing things or fixing people,” in Schneider’s words (think plumbers, industrial technicians, and health care workers), often pay a lot more than lower-demand career paths that require four-year degrees, such as the arts, psychology, social work, and (alas) education.
In the column, Bryan urges schools to emulate several successful approaches that researchers have uncovered, including career academies, internships, and dual enrollment. CTE even has a role to play in the widely shared goal of improving educational equity because it can vault more students into better academic outcomes and higher lifelong earnings.
Read Bryan’s Research Matters column in Educational Leadership.