Workforce Preparation and Employment Outcomes

Average First-year Earnings: Colorado

Average first-year earnings of Colorado Community Colleges associate degree graduates by selected field of study

What Is Measured?

Average earnings within one year of associate degree completion, by field of study

Who Is Counted?

Graduates of associate degree programs in Colorado Community Colleges between academic year 2006–07 and 2010–11

What It Tells Us

There was wide variation in the average first-year earnings among graduates of the most popular associate degree programs. Graduates in fire protection earned, on average, $62,177 while liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities (AA/AS) graduates earned, on average, $30,184.

Why It's Important

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.

About the Data
Data are reported in five-year cohorts; the cohort reported here draws from students who graduated between Fall 2005 and Spring 2011. Wage data are obtained by matching Social Security numbers of graduates with Colorado unemployment insurance records for the third through sixth quarters after graduation. Only graduates employed in Colorado during that period are counted; self-employed individuals, federal employees and those working outside of Colorado are excluded. Also excluded are graduates earning less than the Colorado minimum wage. Program areas are reported by CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) code. Six popular program areas shown here are chosen by College Measures. Data are available for other CIP codes at
Data Source

Schneider, M. (2012, September). Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates from Colorado’s Colleges and Universities Working in Colorado. College Measures.

Colorado Department of Higher Education. (2013, April). 2012 Legislative Report on Remedial Education. Denver, CO.