Photo of Faith LaShure
Faith LaShure

There is no doubt that having a college degree or certificate can increase your salary. Many people, though, may not understand that these increased salaries do not necessarily require a 4-year degree. There are many jobs and careers that have increased wages with a 2-year degree or a certificate that takes even less time.

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2017 the median annual salary for people in jobs that typically require an associate degree was $52,830. This is significantly higher than the median annual salary of $36,100 for people working in jobs that do not typically require an associate degree. Not only are wages higher with an associate degree, but job prospects are also increased. The BLS projects an 11% growth rate in careers for people with associate degrees and certificates through 2026, as opposed to the 7% average projected growth rate for all occupations.

There are many students who make it happen. They decide to invest in themselves by furthering their education and as a result, they improve their quality of life. It’s not just the salary increases, though, that make the difference. Sometimes, students find their passion along the way and use their own experiences to help others through their journeys. I am reminded of a Moji Ayorinde. Moji earned two associate degrees while raising her family under some extremely difficult circumstances. She went from being homeless to having a rewarding career in nursing in just a couple of years. And Robin Nelson who, after years of issues with various addictive substances, earned an associate degree and the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate from the state of Illinois. He started college in 2016 and now works as a counselor for people with substance use disorders and mental health disorders.

So how did Moji and Robin do it? They forged their way with a lot of tenacity, heart and help from many of Waubonsee’s faculty, staff and services. 

The salary numbers and job prospects—together with the inspiring stories of those people who have changed their lives with 2-year degrees—makes this a great time to enroll in college. With more than 400 courses available this fall and a team of supportive people to help, Waubonsee Community College can help everyone get on the path to increased salary and enhanced job prospects. While the idea of getting into college can seem overwhelming, it does not have to be. Waubonsee has worked to make the admissions and enrollment process easier than it has ever been and there are people available to help every step of the way. There is still time to get started in classes in August. After a few years of earning more money, your future self will thank you.

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