These findings indicated that certificates and certifications can serve as a beneficial stand-alone credential. However, there are important variations by occupation and gender that demand serious attention as we develop and deliver valuable education opportunities beyond high school.

Certificate/certification holders see increased job market value in their education. Among adults without a degree, 60 percent of those with a certificate or certification perceive their educational experience to be valuable to potential employers, compared to only 44 percent of those without a certificate or certification. This difference in perceived marketability holds across all demographic groups, including gender, age, race/ethnicity, and personal income level.

Non-degree adults who have a certificate or certification are also more inclined to recommend their education path to others. Two-thirds agree or strongly agree that they would recommend their education path to others like them, compared to only about half of those without a certificate or certification. In fact, certificate holders are more likely to recommend their path across all major demographic groups, including gender, age, race/ethnicity and income.

Educational attainment among adults ages 25-64.
(Source: Lumina Foundation, A Stronger Nation.)

The perceived labor market value of certificates/certifications is well-founded. Among adults without a postsecondary degree, the full-time employment rate for certificate/certification holdes is 7 percentage points higher than for those without a certificate or certification. While men have higher employment rates than women overall, the employment boost from certificates/certifications holds for both men and women.

Among adults without a postsecondary degree, certificat/certification holders enjoy an income premium compared to those who do not hold a certificate of certification. This income advantage exists at the top and bottom of the income distribution as well.

The income premium employed by non-degree adults who hold a certificate or certification is considerably larger for men than it is for women. While overall men earn higher salaries than women among this non-degree population, on average the income premium for men with a certificate or certification is over twice as large as it is for women.

The income premium experience by non-degree adults who hold a certificate or certification varies across occupations. For some occupations the premium is as high as $25,000, but for other occupations there is little to no apparent economic advantage to having a certificate or certification.

End of Report Excerpt