Career and Technical Education: Five Ways that Pay

Career and Technical Education: Five Ways that Pay Main Photo

1 Sep 2012


In the United States, postsecondary education and training has become more necessary than ever. For recent high school graduates, life is tough. In the past year, one in four young high school graduates was unemployed and over half were underemployed. In the past decade, recent high school graduates' wages have fallen by 12 percent to just $19,400 annually in 2011, below the poverty threshold for a family of four.

As jobs that require only high school or less have disappeared, postsecondary education and training on the job and in schools have become the gateways to the middle class. Most postsecondary education and training discussions focus on the baccalaureate pathway, but there has been an increasing interest in so-called "middle jobs." These are jobs that require education and training beyond high school but less than a Bachelor's degree, and secure middle-class earnings. The education and training programs that prepare Americans for these jobs are commonly referred to as career and technical education (CTE).

There are 29 million middle jobs in the United States today. In a labor market with roughly 139 million jobs and 61 million jobs that pay at least middle-class wages, one in every five jobs and nearly half of all jobs that pay at least middle-class wages are middle jobs. Some jobs pay significantly more than the average of $35,000. Over 11 million middle jobs pay $50,000 or more annually, and 4 million pay $75,000 or more.

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