Grads Working in Colorado Earn, on Average, $20,000 More in First-Year of Employment Compared to High School Grads


May 7, 2013 10:08

Higher Education Pays:The Initial Earnings of Graduates From Colorado’s Colleges and Universities Working in Colorado 

The results suggest that the degree a student earns matters, but that there are important variations in returns by program and by institution.

Among the findings in this report:

  • Colorado graduates working in Colorado can earn, on average, $20,000 more in their first year of employment compared to a high school graduate.

  • The career-oriented Associate of Applied Sciences (AAS) programs in the state of Colorado are helping many students successfully enter the labor market by equipping them with skills that are in demand. On average, one year after graduation, students with AAS degrees are earning almost $7,000 more than graduates of bachelor’s degree programs across the state.

  • Graduates with the AAS degree earn, on average, about $15,000 more than students whocompleted the Associate of Arts degree or Associate of Sciences degree but who are now in the labor force.

  • There is wide variation in the earnings of graduates of the AAS degree, with almost $15,000 separating the median earnings of graduates from Red Rocks Community College ($53,000) from median earnings of graduates from Aims Community College.

  • The median first-year earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients statewide is around $39,000. However, there is a wide range in earnings according to field of study: First-year earnings range from less than $30,000 (for Fine and Studio Arts graduates) to more than $50,000 (Registered Nursing graduates).

  • For bachelor’s degrees, in general, graduates in health and business earn more than graduates with liberal arts degrees. A closer look tells a more complex story, however. Consider business administration, management, and operations. A $20,000 difference is found in the first-year earnings of persons who graduated in these fields from the University of Denver (more than $59,000) and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs ($39,000). Although part of that differenceis likely attributable to differences in the local job markets, there is a $16,000 difference in the earnings of graduates from the University of Denver and University of Colorado Denver, both located in the same metropolitan area.

  • These patterns document the variation in earnings across programs and institutions of Colorado graduates who were working in the state and made at least the minimum wage. Many graduates have left Colorado to continue their studies or for work and are not found in our data.The median first-year earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients statewide is around $39,000. However, there is a wide range in earnings according to field of study: First-year earnings range from less than $30,000 (for Fine and Studio Arts graduates) to more than $50,000 (Registered Nursing graduates).

  • For bachelor’s degrees, in general, graduates in health and business earn more than graduates with liberal arts degrees. A closer look tells a more complex story, however. Consider business administration, management, and operations. A $20,000 difference is found in the first-year earnings of persons who graduated in these fields from the University of Denver (more than $59,000) and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs ($39,000). Although part of that difference is likely attributable to differences in the local job markets, there is a $16,000 difference in the earnings of graduates from the University of Denver and University of Colorado Denver, both located in the same metropolitan area.

  • These patterns document the variation in earnings across programs and institutions of Colorado graduates who were working in the state and made at least the minimum wage. Many graduates have left Colorado to continue their studies or for work and are not found in our data.

View the full report here