Individuals with a graduate degree can expect to see $440,000 more than nongraduates during the same time span. The researchers note that the real benefit of a college degree is not seen in the short term since many graduates will start their careers at the same financial level as nongraduates. Instead, the researchers say the real gains occur after time when salaries can grow exponentially for graduates.
"In today's uncertain economy, we wanted to help job seekers better appraise the value of a college education," said Shankar Mishra, vice president of data science and analytics for TheLadders, which conducted the research. "As evidenced by our 'job vs. career' trajectory, the disparity of salary increases between graduates and nongraduates over the course of 20 years more than justifies the hefty price tag of a college education."
The researchers also made the point that college degrees are often required to obtain many jobs with higher compensation. Seventy-five percent of the highest compensation industries on TheLadders require a college degree.
"If you're wondering whether to go back and finish your four-year degree, this new information encourages you to take the plunge," said Amanda Augustine, job search expert for TheLadders.
The research was based on data from more than 6 million members of TheLadders.