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Tuesday Tip: Cost of Education vs. Earning Potential

Whether you’re a recent high school graduate trying to pick a major or a seasoned professional looking to shift your career, our credit counseling advice is to carefully choose your area of study. It would be a shame to invest money in a new skill, only to find out that it won’t boost your income enough to help cover the cost or repay student loan debt. It may not be the top criteria for your decision, but you should consider the earning potential as you decide on a field of study.

American Consumer Credit Counseling recommends considering the earning potential

American Consumer Credit Counseling recommends considering the earning potential.

Consider Earning Potential of Your Profession

Some say that if you follow your passion, then you’ll never work a day in your life. Others say follow the green, not the dream. Somewhere in between, there must be a practical strategy for choosing your education and career direction, where you can be happy as well as financially secure. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to avoid debt and credit problems as a result of your education costs?

How Much Will I Earn?

You may wonder what education and skills are applicable to what careers. You may also wonder what people in those careers typically earn. High schoolers and college student have guidance counselors. Everyone else has the internet to research these questions.

Sites like Glassdoor.com, Indeed.com, and Salary.com are great resources for salary information for a wide variety of careers and positions. This will give you an idea of how much you can expect to earn based on a given set of skills and education. Read job descriptions to identify what you like, what you need to know, and how much you can earn. Consider these factors along with the cost of your education when choosing an area of study and a career path.

What Are My Next Steps?

Hopefully, you have thought through some of your passions and understand the ramifications of student loan debt vs earning potential. If everything worked out for the best, woo-hoo! Give it all you’ve got and keep on keepin’ on. However, if you discovered you would be drowning in debt for most of your life, there are some adjustments you can make.

Could your passion by supplemented by some more lucrative skills? For example, if you want to help people in the non-profit world, salaries are typically lower than the corporate world. Consider buffering your skills to include graphic design, marketing and video production. You could also consider grant writing or other business related courses.

Another approach is to reevaluate your entire major. Could photography just be a hobby or maybe a side gig? Instead of majoring in photography, take some classes or even minor in the field. Identify another area of study that can be as rewarding for you through aptitude tests, shadowing a professional or some serious soul searching.

You can be anything that you want, but it might not be worth the price. Consider your current and future financial goals and earning potential when choosing a major.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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