Education pays

Young people who understand the impact that education and training have on their employment opportunities and lifetime earnings are more likely to have a secure financial future.

Understanding and applying the link between education, training and lifetime earnings can make a significant impact on the amount of money an individual can earn over a 40 year career.

A new curriculum, Build Your Future: Choices…Connections…Careers, recently released by the National 4-H Council was written to help teens develop knowledge and skills in career exploration.  The chapter entitled “Education Pay$” focuses on the link between education and potential earnings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the more education an individual obtains the more money the person can earn over his or her lifetime.  This potential earning capacity applies when the individual initially enters the workforce, is promoted within the current job and when they change employment.

When considering post-high school education, it is valuable for teens to understand the difference in earning potential between an entry-level position with little or no education and a position in the same career field once formal education or training has been completed.  Further, additional education or training throughout a career can significantly affect opportunities to advance and increase future earning potential.

Michigan State University Extension suggests taking a look at Career pathways: Exploring health science careers.  In 2009, a Home Health Care Aide with a high school diploma could expect to make $23,070 per year.  With a one-year state-approved education program and license, an individual can be a Licensed Practical Nurse; the average salary increases to $40,380 (in 2010).  With a 4-year bachelor’s degree to advance in the career field to a Registered Nurse the individual would earn an average salary of $65,470 (2012).  In these situations, education clearly pays.

Multiply those annual salaries out over a 40 year career to figure lifetime earnings.  Not considering any pay increases or cost of living increases, the Home Health Care Aide will make $922,800, the Licensed Registered Nurse will make $1,615,200 and a Registered Nurse will make $2,618,800 in lifetime earnings.

The Build Your Future curriculum guides the participant through this and other career pathways to discover the impact that education and training can offer.  The activity can be further extended to investigate the wide range of employee benefits so that teens can see the bigger picture of an employee’s total compensation package.

Other chapters in the curriculum lead participants through the experience of researching careers, creating a portfolio, writing a resume, preparing for an interview, exploring appropriate actions on the job and even developing a business plan. The nine chapter curriculum was written by team of MSU Extension educators.  It is available from the National 4-H Council’s curriculum website.

The Education Pay$ chapter provides information and data that can help teenagers knowledgeably plan their high school and post-secondary education and training in preparation for their future career and financial life.

For more information about the financial education resources available through Michigan 4-H Youth Development, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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