New Study: 29 Million Jobs Pay $35,000 to $75,000 Annually Without Bachelors Degrees

There are 29 million jobs that pay middle-class wages (between $35,000 and $75,000 annually). Nearly 40 percent pay more than $50,000 a year, according to the new study released jointly by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and Civic Enterprises.

The United States invests roughly $1.4 trillion in human capital development each year. National spending on the five CTE pathways totals $524 billion annually.

There are five pathways that provide career and technical training that lead to these jobs. Altogether, these Career and

Technical Education (CTE) pathways account for $524 billion of investment in post-secondary education and training each year.

The study examines each of these five CTE pathways in major detail:

  • Associate’s degrees: account for 800,000 awards each year. Half of associate’s degrees are related to career-oriented fields, such as nursing, business and information technology.
  • Post-secondary certificates: have eclipsed associate’s and master’s degrees as the second most common post-secondary award after the bachelor’s degree—about 1 million are awarded each year.
  • Registered apprenticeships: account for $6 billion in resources and reach roughly 400,000 Americans. Nine out of 10 apprentices are men and over half of apprenticeships are in construction.
  • Industry-based certifications: such as Microsoft, Cisco and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) certifications are test based post-secondary credentials awarded by employers and account for roughly $25 billion in human capital development.
  • Employer-based training: represents the largest pathway at $454 billion—$313 in informal training and $141 billion in formal training.

At a time when four out of five post-secondary students are working, these pathways provide students with good jobs that can pay the way to further education. The CTE system is the missing middle ground in American education and workforce preparation. Among students who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2011, 28 percent started at a community college. Twenty-three percent of post-secondary certificate-holders go on to earn at least a two-year degree, the study finds.

The study also finds that in the postindustrial economy CTE jobs have shifted from blue-collar jobs to white-collar office jobs and healthcare (one third of CTE jobs are blue collar, half are white-collar office jobs and another 15 percent are in healthcare). Despite this fact, men still hold 18 out of the 29 million CTE jobs. For both men and women, the best CTE jobs are in sub-baccalaureate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and healthcare, where over 80 percent of jobs pay middle-class wages.

“Compared to other advanced economies, the United States under invests in sub-baccalaureate, career and technical education,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, the Center’s Director and the report’s lead author.

While the U.S. ranks second internationally in the share of workers with a Bachelor’s degree, it ranks 16th in sub-baccalaureate attainment. In addition, the U.S. hasn’t increased its sub-baccalaureate attainment since the Baby Boom generation.

Career and Technical Education: Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A., comprises a full report and an executive summary. Both are available here.

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