College can add more earnings than university

Relative value varies by industry: study

Ever wondered whether an applied college degree or a traditional university degree will add more to your paycheque?

The answer depends on what industry you work in, according to a new study published by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. While university degrees generally offer a higher rate of return (as measured by increased earnings over people with only high school diplomas), there are some jobs where the college degree is worth more.

Not surprisingly, university rules in health care, senior management and in the legal field. In those industries, workers with university degrees make about 40 per cent more than those with no post-secondary credential, while college degrees bring only about 20 per cent more earning power.

But chefs and cooks, child-care workers and sales people who have college credentials have a roughly 20 per cent advantage over those with only high school, while those with university better their pay by only five to 10 per cent.

And in the trades, including construction and transportation, college credentials offer roughly a 20 per cent premium over high school alone while university adds only about five per cent.

What’s not considered in the study is the fact that there may be an advantage to earning a university degree and then adding a college credential. To read more about The College Advantage, click here.

This was first published online on Sep. 23, 2011.