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Learning and Earning

It pays to stay in school. How long you stay in school is one of the biggest factors in increasing your earning power. The pay-off is obvious when you look at the average earnings of different levels of education. Select an education level below to see how much money you might earn per year.

Professional degree $80,200
Doctorate $70,500
Masters degree $55,300
Bachelor’s degree $46,300
Associate degree $35,400
Some college, no degree $32,400
High school diploma (includes GED) $28,800
Some high school, no diploma $21,400


These are median (mid-range) earnings for year-round, full-time workers ages 25 and older in 2000*.

Continuing your education beyond high school qualifies you for many more jobs. Think of it as a life full of learning and an investment in yourself. Education helps you grow in a career or change your career as your life unfolds.

Select an education level below to see how much money you might make over 40 years, a work life. The numbers in the list are estimated “average” earnings.

Professional degree $4.4 million
Doctorate $3.4 million
Master’s degree $2.5 million
Bachelor’s degree $2.1 million
Associate degree $1.6 million
Some college, no degree $1.5 million
High School Diploma (includes GED) $1.2 million
Some high school, no diploma $1.0 million


Note: This calculation does not factor in the effect of inflation: that a dollar earned today is worth more than a dollar earned in the future. **

*Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Bureau of Labor Statistics
**US Census Bureau, “The Big Payoff

Did you know?

Keep a money diary that tracks what you save and spend. It will tell you about when, why, and how you use money.