Front Range Community College Blog

See the Payoff for Higher Education

Chart showing median first year earnings for different degrees. A.A.S. earns the most at close to $60,000.

New research shows earning an associate degree here in Colorado is a great investment.

A new website, Colorado’s Economic Success Measures, allows students to examine the earnings of graduates from Colorado colleges and universities. With a few clicks, you can see what your degree might yield (from a salary perspective) immediately after graduation – and make informed decisions about your future.

In reviewing the data, I was excited to see proof of an associate degree’s value. Here is what that data shows about the value of a community college education – and many FRCC degrees in particular:

  • The career-oriented Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Colorado equips students with job-ready skills, often in high-demand fields. On average, first-year A.A.S. graduates earn almost $7,000 more than first-year graduates of bachelor’s degree programs across Colorado.
  • The median first-year wages for A.A.S. graduates from every Colorado community college except one are higher than the statewide mean of first-year wages of bachelor’s degree graduates.
  • Median first-year earnings of A.A.S. graduates from FRCC exceed $47,000.
  • Median first-year earnings of Associate of General Studies (A.G.S.) graduates from FRCC are $36,715, while median first-year earnings of Associate of Arts/Associate of Science (A.A./A.S.) graduates are $30,902.  Almost all students with an A.A. or A.S. degree intend to transfer to a four-year school, so their first year earnings may be lower if they opt to immediately enter the workforce instead of continuing their college education.
  • The average median first-year earnings of the seven most popular associate degree programs are $10,000 more than for students who earn bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts and sciences. For example, an associate degree in fire protection yields $62,177.
  • The median first-year wages for graduates of FRCC’s nursing degree programs are $50,752.
  • And here are some of our top paying degrees at FRCC (first-year median earnings):
    • A.A.S. Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment ($52,645). This is a generic description that could cover a number of our Allied Health programs.
    • A.A.S. Business Administration, Management and Operations ($45,444)
    • A.A.S. Electrical Engineering Technologies/Technicians ($44,477)
    • A.A.S. Graphic Communications ($42,811)

The site is a partnership between the Colorado Department of Higher Education and College Measures, an organization that uses data to drive the improvement of higher education in the U.S. We’re one of just five states in the country to have this tool at our disposal (the others are Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia). In addition, the publication “Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates From Colorado’s Colleges and Universities” provides an enlightening look at the value of various degrees in real dollars (i.e. salaries).

At Front Range Community College, we prepare students for the next big step in their lives – whether that is entering the workforce, transferring to a four-year institution, or taking new skills and credentials (a certificate, for example) back to their job to earn a higher salary. It’s encouraging to see that our students who intend to get new jobs when they leave here can earn a great wage right away.

What do you think of the Colorado Measures website?

Avatar for Andy Dorsey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Dorsey is the President of Front Range Community College. He joined FRCC in 1993, teaching psychology and economics and earning Master Teacher honors in 1999. Before becoming an educator, he worked as a project manager in two businesses, non-profit manager, and legislative director for a Congressman.