The Rise of the Associates Degree and Technical Colleges

With people realizing the cost of a 4-year degree is getting too high, the 2-year school is gaining popularity with students and employers alike.

It seems we all were told the same thing growing up by our teachers, parents and just about everyone that went to college; you have to get a 4-year degree. While yes, if you want to be a teacher or another specialized area that requires a bachelors degree, that’s the route you have to take. But there’s another choice these days, one that has lost its taboo of the past and deserves your consideration.

Image result for Western Technical College infographics

Technical college has been known as the place you go for specialized skills and training, such as welding, mechanic work, and other labor intensive jobs. Not many people even know that most technical colleges offer degrees in job areas such as marketing and graphic design. In fact, most technical colleges offer many of the same types of educational areas that universities do. Now, many of you are probably thinking back to what your high school guidance counselors told you in your senior year, that “a 4-year degree pays better, so it’s the better choice.” While technically they’re not wrong, there are other facts to take into consideration.

The hard facts about bachelors and associates degrees:

  • In 2014-2015, the average cost of 4-year institutions (public and private) for one year was $25,409 (National Center for Education Statistics)
  • In that same time frame, the average cost of 2-year institutions (public and private) for one year was $10,153 (National Center for Education Statistics)
  • While a bachelor’s degree can pay up to 20% higher ($43,200) than the national starting median pay for those who hold an associate’s degree ($35,100), the extra 2 years of education can cost up to $88,200 more, taking less than 10 years to earn back (PayScale)
  • Only 59% of students who begin at 4-year institutions actually graduate from there and even more are taking up to six years to complete their degree (PayScale)
  • Costs for a 4-year institution can cost well over $120,000 or more after four years (Value Colleges)
  • 70% of students take out loans for school and more than 20% of those who owe money for loans owe more than $50,000 (loans also accrue interest, adding to the overall cost) (Value Colleges)
  • Technical colleges offer some of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. such as dental hygienists and veterinary technologists (Value Colleges)
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment rates for technical college graduates is lowering while they are rising for bachelor’s degree holders, 4.5% and 3.5% respectively (Value Colleges)

Whats next?

All in all, if you’re looking to get a degree for teaching or you plan on obtaining your law degree, consider going in the university’s direction. But if you want an affordable education, that offers you a starting salary in line with the median of the U.S. and at over half the cost of a 4-year degree, then technical college is the best choice for you.


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