Louisiana’s associate-degree graduates are more likely to find jobs — at higher pay — than graduates with four-year degrees, according to a state report.
Eighteen months after graduation, 72.5 percent of associate-degree graduates were employed in Louisiana, compared to 59.5 percent of graduates with bachelor’s degrees, 60.5 percent with master’s degrees, 38.3 percent with doctorates and 50.4 percent with professional degrees.
New associate degree holders — many with degrees in medical and technical fields — earned $3,000 a year more than new four-year graduates.
Engineering graduates with bachelor’s degrees were the top earners, starting at almost $57,000.
“In 1970, you could be middle class with a high school diploma or less and the sweat of your brow,” (Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell) said. In 2007, the study shows, only 39 percent of the “middle class” in Louisiana had only a high school education.
. . . “We see the need for a strong community college system,” he said. “Ideally, we’d have 60 percent of our students enrolled in community colleges and 40 percent enrolled in four-year institutions.”
Currently, 56 percent of students are in four-year institutions and 44 percent in community or technical colleges.
Over time, many four-year college graduates will earn more than two-year graduates, Purcell predicted.