Technical college graduate salaries grow despite recession

April 29, 2009

Despite a slow economy, last year’s technical college graduates report salaries that are nearly four percent higher than graduates from one year earlier. A survey of 2008 technical colleges graduates concluded a median salary of $32,000 approximately six months after graduation, compared with $30,782 one year earlier.

The data is from the annual Graduate Follow-up Report by Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges, which examines graduates’ progress in all types of degrees six months out of college. Associate degree salaries were highest with a median of $36,192, up 3.6 percent from $34,944 the previous year.  However, the biggest gains were experienced in two-year technical diploma fields, with graduates reporting a median salary of $33,570, a jump of nearly 15 percent from 2007 graduates ($29,248).

“It’s great to see the salaries of our graduates continue to rise during these tough economic times,” said Dan Clancy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System. “No occupation is completely recession proof, but demand for highly-skilled employees in high-tech fields, including health care and advanced manufacturing can pump up salaries, even during a recession.”

Clancy attributes the colleges’ ability to rapidly add or drop programming to meet the needs of employers. This allows the colleges to closely align education to areas of need so graduates meet employers’ needs.

According to the report, the number of occupations where new graduates’ median salaries are above the $40,000 threshold is now at 40, up from 26 the previous year. The study also found 91 percent of the graduates were employed within six months of graduation and 97 percent of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the education they received from their local technical college.  The study showed that Wisconsin only loses seven percent of its technical college graduates to other states.

The Graduate Follow-up Report was sent to 23,085 graduates from 2008 and had a 72 percent response rate. It examines employment status, earnings, and other factors approximately six months after graduation. The complete report is available here.

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