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    Three Education Options That Build Skills and Increase Income

    If you’re considering going back to school, there’s one inescapable fact to consider: More skills equals more money.

    Non-high school graduates earn 30 percent less than those who graduated. That wage gap increases when you compare those with a high school degree to those who graduated college: Individuals with a college degree can earn up to $17,500 more per year than those with just a high school diploma. In addition, more skills, and especially more education, often brings greater job satisfaction.

    There are many low-cost options to consider when thinking about school. Determining what you want to improve will help you decide the type of education to choose.

    High School Diploma or General Education Development Certificate (GED)

    The GED is the equivalent of a high school diploma and carries the same weight with employers. A series of subjects are studied, and a passing score must be achieved on a test for each one to earn the GED. They are available through city and county adult education programs. Many community colleges also have GED programs.

    Technical or Trade School

    A technical school—also known as a trade school, vocational school or career academy.—provides students with marketable skills necessary to acquire and perform a specific job. Technical school is a great way to improve specific and marketable skills. Advantages of trade and technical schools include:

    • Lower cost.
    • Shorter programs.
    • Practical skills (rather than academic or knowledge-based).
    • Hands-on experience through apprenticeship and internship programs.
    • Job placement assistance by the school.
    • Lucrative careers with salaries ranging from $35,000 to $50,000 for some technical areas.

    Community Colleges

    Community colleges are public institutions. Each state runs its system a little differently, but these are the best value in education beyond the high school level.

    Each person is tested and placed in classes at a level of study aligned with their knowledge and skills—don’t be discouraged if you did not do well in high school, because community colleges have extensive refresher or remedial learning programs. They offer free writing and math laboratories with individual instructors available on both a walk-in and appointment basis.

    Community colleges are designed to help millions of people gain the skills they need to pursue degrees and be successful in their careers. Advantages of community colleges include:

    • Quality academic knowledge to prepare you for a four-year degree.
    • Wide variety of course to study.
    • Local and close to home.
    • Online, virtual or face-to-face learning options.
    • Lower cost that most four-year universities.

    For additional help navigating your education options, consider connecting with your local Goodwill career center, where you’ll work with someone who can help you make the choices that are right for you.

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