How to Upgrade Your High School Diploma


These education upgrades could help you pursue the career you want.

By Staff

Do you feel like a lack of a college education is limiting your career options?

It might be true, says Abhijeet Khadilkar, president of Career Tiger, an employment consultant company. "A degree, especially from a good university, can increase the marketability of one's resume," he says.

Higher education could also affect earning potential, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor's employment projections.

According to their numbers, workers with a high school diploma earned - on average - $626 per week in 2010.

  • Workers with some college (including a certificate) earned $712 per week: $86 more than high school grads.
  • Workers with an associate's degree earned $767 per week: $141 more than high school grads.
  • Workers with a bachelor's degree earned $1,038 per week: $412 more than high school grads.

Think you're ready to upgrade your education? Here's the lowdown on what earning a certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree could mean for you.

Upgrade Option #1 - Certificate

Certificate programs are often offered at vocational schools and community colleges and can be a great option if you're looking to improve your skills in a particular area, or explore a new career field.

Generally a faster option than a degree program, certificates can last anywhere from a few months to a year or two, depending on your program type and workload.

This education option generally comes with flexible schedules, with many certificate programs offering night, weekend, and/or online classes.

Career expert Dr. Laurence Shatkin says the health and technology fields are expanding and will continue to hire into the years ahead.

"Certificates and degrees in the fields of health care and high technology are in high demand now and will remain in demand in the near future," Shatkin says.

Certificate Options:

Find the Right Certificate Program for You

Upgrade Option #2 - Associate's Degree

Think an associate's degree might be a better fit for you? Let's find out.

According to the College Board, an educational organization that administers aptitude tests like the SAT, associate's degree programs tend to focus on a specific vocation rather than general education.

Often offered at community colleges, and some universities, an associate's degree could be a good education upgrade for you if you would rather not commit to a full four-year bachelor's degree.

What's more, the unemployment rate for associate's degree holders is seven percent - two percent lower than the unemployment rate for people with just a high school degree.

Associate's Degree Options:

Find the Right Associate's Degree Program for You

Upgrade Option #3 - Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree could be the perfect choice for someone who wants more opportunities for advancement in the workforce, but is also passionate about getting a broad, comprehensive college education.

"Having a college degree can help ... enable you to view your responsibilities from a supervisor or manager's angle, which can make a big difference in terms of career advancement," says Khadilkar.

But, a bachelor's degree isn't limited to just those who want career advancement.

According to a New York Times article, "Even For Cashiers, College Pays Off", published in June 2011, a college education can help boost your earnings, even in a career, like plumbers or cashiers, that doesn't require a degree.

Bachelor's degree programs generally take four or more years to complete, depending on the program and workload. They also tend to include more general education courses, rather than focusing on a particular career path.

Bachelor's Degree Options:

Find the Right Bachelor's Degree Program for You

*Average weekly earnings information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, May 2010 figures.

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