Workforce Preparation and Employment Outcomes

Average First-year Earnings: Tennessee

First-year earnings of Tennessee Community College Completers by Field of Study and Award Type

What Is Measured?

Average earnings within one-year of program completion, by program area and degree type

Who Is Counted?

Graduates of associate degree and certificate programs in Tennessee Community Colleges between summer 2005 and spring 2006

What It Tells Us

There was wide variation in first-year earnings among graduates of the most popular associate degree and certificate programs in Tennessee. Graduates in health professions and related programs earned, on average, $46,606 while family and consumer sciences/human sciences certificate completers earned, on average, only $22,877. On average Associate degree graduates earned more than certificate completers in five of the six fields.

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 Summer 2005 and Spring 2006. Wage data are obtained by matching Social Security numbers of graduates with Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development unemployment insurance records for the third through sixth quarters after graduation. Only graduates employed in Tennessee during that period are counted; self-employed individuals, federal employees and those working outside of Tennessee are excluded. 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 are inflation adjusted to constant 2011 dollars according to the Consumer Price Index.
Data Source

Schneider, M. and Vivari, B. (2012, September). The Earning Power of Graduates from Tennessee’s College and Universities: How are graduates from different degree programs doing in the labor market?. College Measures.