Part of the American dream has always been to send your children to college so they could obtain their degree. Despite a struggling economy, the last decade has seen record numbers of people seeking higher education. In 2019 alone, nearly 20 million Americans enrolled in colleges and universities to receive their degree, and experts are expecting this number to increase over the coming years.

And it’s not just wealthy families that are sending their kids to college. Recent surveys have found more low- and middle-income families are making higher education a priority.

If you have been wondering about getting a post-secondary degree – what it was exactly and if it was something that could help you earn more – be sure to read this entire article, because I’m going to share absolutely everything you need to know about post-secondary degrees.

Let’s get started!

What is a Post-Secondary Degree?

To keep things simple, a post-secondary degree is one that a person can obtain once they’ve received their high school diploma or GED. Post-secondary degrees may come from a community college, vocational school, an undergraduate college or a university.

These degrees show prospective employers that you have taken the time to receive specialized skills and knowledge. Beyond helping you stand out from other candidates come hiring time, post-secondary degrees can help you earn more – and in some cases – quite a bit more!

Types of Post-Secondary Degrees

As I mentioned, a post-secondary degree lets prospective employers know you have obtained specialized skills and information. But there are different types – or levels – of post-secondary degrees, and each one connotes a different level of expertise.

Associates Degree

Associates degrees are typically obtained in two years at either a community college or vocational/technical school. These degrees offer students a higher understanding of different professional settings and prepares them for entry-level work.

An associates degree can also be counted as the first two years of a 4-year bachelor’s degree. Many students, particularly adult students, will obtain their associates degree in order to get their foot in the door of their chosen field. Later, they can use this degree to jumpstart their next leg of education and obtain their bachelor’s degree, which will provide further employment and earnings opportunities.

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Bachelor’s Degree

When we hear the term “college degree,” most people think of the classic 4-year bachelor’s degree. This is the most popular post-secondary degree people earn.

Bachelor’s programs provide a more holistic educational experience because they not only teach employable skills, but also academic subjects that help sharpen the students’ critical thinking skills.

While it typically takes students four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, it can sometimes take six or even eight years to complete. This is usually due to financial reasons, however. If you’re interested in obtaining a bachelor’s degree, be sure to read this article all the way to the end because I’m going to share how you can earn your bachelor’s degree for less money and even cut your time in half!

Master’s Degree

Once you have obtained your bachelor’s degree you may choose to go on and pursue a master’s degree. These programs allow students to gain even more expertise around a particular field of study. Depending on the program, master’s degrees typically take an additional two to three years to complete. Once obtained, these degrees can help you advance your career into management roles and earn much higher salaries.


Obtaining a doctorate degree is the highest academic achievement a person can attain. Holders of Ph.Ds. are usually in top positions in their field and earn much more. How much? Keep reading, I’m about to let you in on some salary secrets!

The Benefits of a Post-Secondary Education

At this point you hopefully understand what a post-secondary degree is. But you may still be wondering if obtaining one of these degrees is worth the time and cost.

The following are just some of the benefits of earning a post-secondary degree.

Higher income

I have been alluding to the fact that obtaining a higher degree usually leads to greater earning potential. According to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), those who have obtained their post-secondary degree can expect to earn quite a bit more than those with only a high school diploma.

Of course, when it comes to earning potential, other factors come into play, such as field of study, occupation and location of your employment. So for instance, someone with a master’s of fine art degree may not earn as much as an engineer with only a bachelor’s degree.

Having said that, surveys taken over the years, including this recent one, have found certain generalized statements, such as those with even an associates degree can expect to earn 20% more than those with a high school diploma or GED.

Those with bachelor’s degrees can expect to earn between 35% and 85% more than those with only a high school diploma, while those with master’s degrees and Ph.Ds. can earn between 85% and 100% more than those with only a high school diploma.

So, if you are someone who is looking to advance your career and start earning more, getting a post-secondary degree makes a lot of sense!

Better Employee Benefits

You may not know this, but jobs that require you to have a bachelor’s degree or higher typically offer better job benefits. For instance, you may find your employer offers healthcare coverage, retirement plans, paid time off and other awesome perks.

More Career Options

It’s simple really: the higher you go with your education, the more career opportunities are available to you. While someone with an associates degree will be able to seek entry-level employment, someone with a master’s degree or Ph. D. will fill the highest positions and earn the highest salary.

Having said that, I want to make it clear that master’s degrees and Ph. Ds. are not necessary to have a rewarding and lucrative career. Many people have the career of their dreams and earn a great salary by earning a bachelor’s degree.

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Job Security

If you’ve been in the job market over the last decade, you know that when the economy struggles, employers need to make cuts. Without question, those employees who have the most skills and expertise offer the most value to their employers and therefor have greater job security.

Job Satisfaction

We spend eight hours a day (or more) five days a week (or more) at our jobs. That’s a lot of time dedicated to something you may not like doing. Life just feels better when we love our work. Often, the careers that bring those most meaning and purpose into our lives, such as those in healthcare, science or education, require a post-secondary degree.

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list of benefits, but these give you an idea of why you may seriously want to consider obtaining your post-secondary degree.

Cons of a Post-Secondary Education

Of course, to decide if a post-secondary education is right for you, you’ll also want to take into consideration a couple of cons, namely:

  1. It’s Expensive!

Obtaining a college degree is a definite financial commitment. And when you hear about students graduating with a mountain of student loan debt, it can stop you from following your dreams.

There are other common ways to pay for college such as applying for grants and scholarships. Unfortunately, what many students don’t realize is, this endeavor often takes a lot of time with no real payoff. There are only so many grants and scholarships to go around, and so most people will waste hours applying and never see any financial help.

Fear not – there is a simple way to save money toward the cost of college tuition, and I’m about to share that with you in just a moment.

Traditional College Degrees are Hard to Obtain for Adult Students

If you’re a working adult with family responsibilities, it can be next to impossible for you to put your life on hold so that you can move to another state to attend college for four years! Even attempting to take evening classes at your local community college can be a challenge when you have a growing family.

Without question, these two cons are why so many adults give up their pursuit of higher education. And that’s too bad because as we’ve seen, earning a post-secondary degree can be life changing!

Well, the good news is, there is any easy fix for these two problems. Earn your post-secondary degree online!

Can I Really Earn My Post-Secondary Degree Online?

Yes, you really can. In fact, according to one recent article in US News, over 6 million students have found earning their college degree online to be the fastest and easiest way to do it!

Here are some of the main benefits of earning your post-secondary degree online:

It’s More Affordable

Traditional college tuition can cost tens of thousands of dollars. It’s getting harder and harder for the average person to be able to afford this.

An online education, on the other hand, costs just a fraction of a typical education. You see, a physical brick and mortar school has a lot of operating expenses, and those expenses get passed onto you, the student.

Online degrees don’t have these same operating expenses and so you can save a ton. In addition, can help you find even better ways to save. We’ve partnered with accredited colleges and universities across the country that not only offer online courses, they also offer upfront tuition discounts.

And as if that isn’t incredible enough, offers our students FREE classes for credit. You read that right! Take as many FREE classes as you’d like, then apply those later toward your degree. We’ll connect you with those programs that will accept these credits, thereby saving you EVEN MORE money and helping you earn your degree in far less time!

Hey there win/win!


If you’re a working adult raising a young family, you’ll be happy to know that earning your degree online offers a lot of necessary flexibility. Real life can often get in the way of your evening or weekend classes. Your boss may ask you to stay late, or your kid may get sick.

When you earn your degree online, you study when and where is most convenient for YOU. Set your own schedule and never have to worry about missing work or an important family event ever again!

Adult Friendly

Many institutions that offer online degree programs go out of their way to be adult friendly. This means in addition to being more flexible and affordable, these programs also do things like waive the need to submit SAT or ACT scores and also have open admissions. With open admissions, you can sign up for a post-secondary degree 24/7 365. You DON’T have to try and get your application package in by a specific date like most traditional colleges require.

Are You Ready to Get Started with Your Post-Secondary Degree?

I hope this article has answered any questions you may have had about post-secondary degrees. Without question, earning a post-secondary degree can help you build a rewarding career that offers numerous opportunities and a great salary.

And now you know you can earn this degree online far faster and more affordably than you ever thought possible! is 100% free for you to use. We provide you the tools to meet your education goals so you can learn your way to a more satisfying and prosperous life. By using our Smartplan, you can easily find ways to save time and money in just a few mouse clicks.

Our Smartplan will help you find:

  • FREE courses you can take for credit
  • Available tuition discounts
  • Schools that are “adult friendly” and offer flexible enrollments and course schedules
  • Schools that don’t require SAT or ACT scores
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It only takes two minutes to sign up and get started on your journey toward earning your post-secondary degree and a brighter future.

What are you waiting for? Get started today.

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.