Strada Education Network

Certified Value: When Do Adults Without Degrees Benefit from Earning Certificates and Certifications?

A new report from Strada Education Network and Lumina Foundation analyzes data from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey to provide a first-ever look at the impact of non-degree credentials on the lives of a nationally-representative group of education consumers.

Executive Summary

Certified Value: When do Adults Without Degrees Benefit from Earning Certificates and Certifications finds that sub-baccalaureate certificates and certifications provide substantial value in both employment and personal satisfaction for American adults without college degrees. The new report released by Strada Education Network and Lumina Foundation analyzes data from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey. This unique nationally representative database goes beyond traditional approaches of describing demographics and income levels to capture how people feel about the impact of education on their lives and their employment. These are vital insights for increasing the value all education consumers find in America’s post secondary education solutions.

Report Highlights

Adults without a postsecondary degree who hold a certificate or certification:

  • Perceive their education path as more valuable and are more likely to recommend it to others than are those with no credential.
  • Have higher full-time employment rates than their peers with no credential (85 percentversus 78 percent).
  • Have a median annual income of $45,000, versus $30,000 for those without a credential.
  • Wage premiums depend on occupation. For some occupations, the income premium from a certificate or certification is as high as $25,000 per year, while for other occupations there is little to no advantage in having earned a certificate or certification.
  • Significant gender gaps exist. The income premium enjoyed by non-degree adults who hold a certificate or certification is considerably larger for men than it is for women, and this holds across all occupations.

Taken together, these findings indicate that certificates and certifications can serve as a beneficial stand-alone credential. However, there are important variations by occupation and gender, explored in greater depth throughout this report, that demand serious attention as we develop and deliver valuable education opportunities beyond high school.

Additional Resources

Strada Education Network® is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to improving lives by catalyzing more direct and promising pathways between education and employment.

American Enterprise Institute