Should You Display Your Diploma?

pretty woman at graduation

If you toiled away in college and finally received your diploma, congratulations! That took hard work, perseverance, and a hefty outlay of greenbacks, whether you ended up with a law degree, medical degree, or MFA in poetry. So, what do you do with that sheepskin after your graduation ceremony? There are many different opinions on the topic. While there are no right answers, it sometimes helps to hear what others have decided.

Let Your Parents Keep It

Some students’ parents are so darn proud of their offspring for graduating from college; they want to display their sons’ and/or daughters’ degrees in the family home. These proud mothers and fathers hang their adult kids’ diplomas:

• In an artful arrangement with all their kids’ degrees in matching frames
• In their son’s or daughter’s former childhood bedroom-turned-guestroom
• In their family room, den, or home office

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Can I get a good job without a 4-year degree?

Not everyone can (or wants to) go to college. For those that don’t think college is for them, it’s perfectly ok to feel this way. The only issue at hand is, how do you earn a decent living in America today without a 4-year degree? You’ll have to keep an open mind and expect to earn a certificate, 2-year degree or go through a training program to get a job with a future and benefits. The list below is by no means complete, but it does give you an idea of the types of jobs that do not require a 4-year degree. Some of the most popular jobs include:

  • -Armed Forces
  • -Artist
  • -Correctional Officers
  • -Dental Assistants
  • -Information Processing

Armed Forces
Did you know that there are literally thousands of positions in the military? Do you remember the draft? If not, here’s a refresher. Between 1948 and 1973, men could be drafted into the armed forces whether they wanted to go or not. These men were not all fighters. Some were carpenters, others were mechanics, some were dispatchers or typists while others worked in health care. If you had a special skill, chances are, you would not end up in combat because the armed forces could better utilize you in other areas. What does this mean for individuals considering entering the armed forces today? Your skills in any given area could lead to job stability (for 4 years or more), free housing, free health care, a salary, and if you do decide to go back to school, the military will foot the bill. Want more information? Go to or

“Artist” is one of the broadest career fields in the world. Painters, musicians, writers, animators, filmmakers, sculptors, illustrators, cartoonists, sketch artists, and painting restorers are a part of this massive industry. This is one of the few industries where (in many cases) talent and artistic ability may very well outweigh education. If you have artistic ability and you would like to explore this career field further, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics at to learn more about each individual area of the industry.

Correctional Officer
Yes, you will have to complete a training program. Yes, you should be physically fit. And yes, you should have patience and excellent communication skills. And no, you do not need a degree to become a correctional officer. Most correctional officers are employed in state and federal prisons and unfortunately, the nation’s prisons are overcrowded and in desperate need of skilled officers. This means, the field offers tremendous job growth and plenty of stability to boot. Correctional officers may earn anywhere from $33,600 per year up to $70,990 or more per year depending on rank and facility. Want to learn more about becoming a correctional officer? Visit the American Correctional Association at

Dental Assistant
Certification or registration and completion of an accredited dental assistant program are required for entry into this field. In order to be accepted into a dental assistant program, you must have a high school diploma. Dental assistants are in high demand, so you can expect plenty of job opportunities in hospitals, private practices and offices, clinics, and schools. Dental assistants may also work in missions or “free” clinics supported by the U.S. government as well as other institutions such as correctional facilities.

Dental assistants also earn a pretty good salary to start. They earn an average salary $31,550 per year. The highest paid dental assistants average around $43,040 per year and the lowest paid dental assistants earn approximately $20,530 per year. For more information about dental assistants, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics to learn more about this career field.

Information Processing
Hey, if you like peck, peck, pecking away at your computer all day, why not get paid for it? Data entry and information processing workers make a pretty penny processing information for companies and organizations and some even work from home. The catch? You just have to be accurate, fast, and open to performing other clerical duties. Information processing workers earn anywhere from $28,000 per year up to $45,000 per year. Salaries might be higher or lower based on skills, geographic location, and industry. For more information about jobs in this industry visit or the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics at

20 More Careers that don’t Require a 4-Year Degree

  • -Bank Teller
  • -Claims Adjuster
  • -Computer Support Specialists
  • -Cosmetologists
  • -Customer Service Representative
  • -Fire Fighter
  • -Interviewers (solicit and verify info, for banks, government programs, and medical facilities)
  • -Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • -Medical Assistants
  • -Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks
  • -Personal and Home Care Aides
  • -Pharmacy Technician
  • -Postal Service Workers
  • -Purchasing Manager
  • -Radiologic Technologists and Technicians
  • -Retail Salesperson
  • -Science Technicians
  • -Self-enrichment Teacher
  • -Teacher Assistant
  • -Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers

Is the Master’s the New Bachelor’s?

Some may argue that getting a college degree isn’t worth it, but unfortunately for them, the statistics don’t lie. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over an adults working life, bachelor’s degree holders can expect to earn an average of $2.1 million; master’s degree holders can expect to earn an average $2.5 million; doctorate degree holders can expect to average $3.4 million, and professional degree holders average around $4.4 million. So, what can the average high school graduate expect to make during his working life? $1.2 million–if they’re lucky. The bottom line is, for the majority of professional jobs, a high school diploma just won’t cut it, and according to a recent NYT article, in many cases, a bachelor’s degree might not be enough either.

More employer’s than ever before now expect more education for positions that, years ago, may have required a bachelor’s degree only. As a result, the master’s degree is now the fastest growing degree in the U.S.

The number of [graduate degrees] awarded, about 657,000 in 2009, has more than doubled since the 1980s, and the rate of increase has quickened substantially in the last couple of years, says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.

“Several years ago it became very clear to us that master’s education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions,” Dr. Stewart says.

Colleges are turning out more graduates than the market can bear, and a master’s is essential for job seekers to stand out — that, or a diploma from an elite undergraduate college, says Richard K. Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

So, what does this mean for today’s high school graduates? It’s going to take careful thought and solid research to make the best decision for your future! First, choose your career field carefully, meaning think about what you’re good at, realistically, and where the career field is headed. Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics to review projections, salaries, and requirements. Next, talk with a career counselor to find out what type of degree and experience are required for the career field you have chosen to supplement or reinforce what you have learned from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, contact several companies you might be interested in working for and inquire about their specific requirements. This should help you make an informed decision about which direction you should take.


Why Going to College is a Good Idea

Whether or not it’s a good idea to go to college has been in the news a lot lately. Many Americans are questioning how valuable a college degree is thanks to a shaky economy and an unemployment rate that’s at an all-time high. Well, the economy will bounce back eventually, and when it does, having a college degree will help you get a better job than having a high school diploma alone. This is especially true for the average American. We say “average American,” because naysayers love nothing more than to throw around the old “Bill Gates is a college dropout and he’s a billionaire!” The problem is, Bill Gates is not your average American. He, and a handful of others like him, are the exception—not the rule.

If you’re the average American, yes, you need a college degree to get a job in any given professional field. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, computer scientists, educators, ad executives, journalists, and many others would not be where they are today if they did not have a degree. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for many professions, while others require an advanced degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

When it comes to paychecks and prospects, conventional wisdom is right. On average, college graduates earn more money, experience less unemployment, and have a wider variety of career options than other workers do. A college degree also makes it easier to enter many of the fastest growing, highest paying occupations. In some occupations, in fact, having a degree is the only way to get your start.

Many blue-collar jobs require some form of education as well. You may have to enroll in a training program at a trade school or other institution in order to earn an certificate, associate degree or other credential to become an electrician, construction worker, fireman, police officer, mechanic, or other blue-collar job. Sure, you may not have to obtain a bachelor’s degree for these positions, but you will still have to enroll in a specific program, pay tuition, and study in order to pass a number of challenging courses.

It is important to note bachelor’s degrees are increasingly becoming the norm for many blue-collar jobs. For example, a degree in fire science is attractive to most large fire departments and most police departments prefer recruits with college training. All Federal police agencies require a college degree.

There really are no short-cuts when it comes to obtaining even a decent job, with decent pay, and decent benefits. So, instead of focusing on the short-term, focus on your future. So far, it doesn’t look bright if you don’t have a college degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that individuals with less than a high school diploma have the highest rates of unemployment in the nation (around 14.6%), followed by individuals with a high school diploma (9.7%). Individuals with a professional degree, doctoral degree or a master’s degree have the lowest rates of unemployment at 1.7%, 2.1%, and 2.9%, respectively. The rate of unemployment for bachelor’s degree holder’s is around 3.3%.

A college degree has many more benefits besides better job opportunities and higher earnings than non-degree holders. A college degree builds self confidence, you become more independent, you’ll make new friends, you’ll learn more about multiple subject areas, and you’ll be exposed to different cultures, which is an asset in society and the workplace). You’ll also increase your network, which can be utilized for years and years to come.

For more information and statistics about college degrees in America, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics at


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