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Thursday, January 16, 2014

One in Four Americans Holds an Alternative Educational Credential

The Census Bureau reported today (press release) that some 1/4 of U.S. adults hold a credential that's not a tradition college degree. The Census cites a professional certifications, licenses or educational certificates as examples. The data is from fall 2012 and is detailed in a report titled Measuring Alternative Educational Credentials: 2012 (pdf).

Money does come with these credentials.
Among full-time workers, the median monthly earnings for someone with a professional certification or license only was $4,167, compared with $3,433 for one with an educational certificate only; $3,920 for those with both types of credentials; and $3,110 for people without any alternative credential.
But, if you have a bachelors degree, adding on one of these does not significantly change income.

Two findings are relevant to geography and GIS leaners and workers.
About three-quarters of professional certifications and licenses were required for the current or most recent job. 
That's not something we see (yet?) in our field. It's a rarity when a professional certification is even noted in a job posting and in most U.S. states, there is no licensing of GIS users.
More than 90 percent of these credential holders took training or courses and had to demonstrate on-the-job skills or pass a test or exam in order to earn them.
This is also something not common in the U.S. geography/GIS market. However, with the current work on a test for the GISCI GISP credential, there may be some movement in this direction.

The main finding of this data for me is this: Educational institutions, educators, learners and hiring managers should open their eyes to these alternative credentials. They are here to stay.