Median and average wages of those employed in Arkansas in 2012, by credential type and by years since earning highest credential.
Arkansas residents who attained their highest level of education between 2002 and 2011 in a certificate of proficiency, a technical certificate, or an associate degree program.
Those whose highest credential is a technical certificate have the highest median wage out of the three attainment categories ($25,645). Holders of associate degrees have a median wage of $23,119, while those who hold certificates of proficiency have the lowest median wage ($15,550) of the three. The median income increases for each credential type as more years elapse after the credential was earned.
Many students enroll in community colleges to gain new skills so that they can improve their employment prospects. Numerous studies have found that median earnings for individuals with associate degrees are higher than median earnings for high school graduates. Even individuals who attend community college but do not complete a degree have higher earnings than those whose education stops at high school. Fewer studies have examined vocational certificates at the national level, but their results are consistent with the research on associate degrees, with certificate recipients showing a substantial advantage in earnings.
“Arkansas residents” were those for whom the original state of residence when entering an Arkansas higher education institution was Arkansas.
Using the month and year of graduation from each credential identified, Department of Workforce Services (DWS) unemployment insurance data were matched with education data from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education's Student Information System Database (SISDB) to obtain wage information in 2012. Since the self-employed, employees of the federal government, and graduates working outside of Arkansas do not have Arkansas unemployment insurance, they are not included in the analysis.
Arkansas Research Center and Hanover Research. (2014, February) Arkansas Education to Employment Report 2013. Conway, AR: Arkansas Research Center.
Walker, J. and Holland, G. (2011) Arkansas Education to Employment Report. Conway, AR: Arkansas Research Center.