Factors influencing the postcollege earnings of Iowa community college career and technical education students from three career clusters
Using data from the Iowa Department of Education (IDE), Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), this study investigated the relationship between student characteristics such as gender, race/ethnicity, program of study and degree completion and earnings outcomes for students enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs within the business, information technology (IT), and marketing career clusters in community college in the state of Iowa in order to determine which variables lead to improved earnings for these students. The sample consisted of students who enrolled in programs in these three CTE programs in fiscal year 2002 and not found to be enrolled in the following fiscal year in any postsecondary institution identified by the National Student Clearinghouse data file. Postcollege earnings of all those in the sample who worked all four quarters of fiscal years 2003 through 2007 were included in the analysis. The study employed analysis of variance and sequential multiple regression analysis to consider the variables influencing postcollege earnings of Iowa community college students in fiscal year 2007 and change in earnings between 2003 and 2007. While much has been written about postcollege earnings of community college students (Bailey, Kienzl, & Marcotte, 2004; Grubb, 2002a, 2002b; Sanchez, Laanan & Wiseley, 1999), little is known about the relationship between background characteristics and postcollege earnings at the program level.
The study found that gender has the strongest influence on earnings for all three of the career clusters, with women earning less in all three. However, this plays out differently between the three clusters. Women who complete degrees in business and marketing earn less even than men who enroll in these programs without completing degrees. However, women who complete associate degrees in IT have an increase in earnings that is higher than that of men and have fifth year earnings that approach those of men.
The study also found that older students have statistically significantly higher wages and smaller change in wages; Pell recipients have statistically significantly lower wages, but statistically significantly higher increase in wages for those in business. Completion of associate degrees had a positive influence on earnings for marketing and IT, but did not have a significant impact on earnings for the business cluster. Within the business cluster, those who majored in Business Administration Management had statistically significantly higher 2007 wages, while those in Administrative Assisting had statistically significantly lower wages.
The results of the study go beyond previous research by considering the predictors of earnings at the program and program cluster level. The results of the study will be useful for administrators and policymakers in making decisions about the effectiveness of programs and may also be useful in assisting students and advisors in making decisions about programs of study and even whether they will complete a degree.