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Kaplan Clean Tech Education
Kaplan Professional Div
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Study: Clean Energy Vocational Training Programs Have Better ROI than Traditional Degrees


Data recently released by CleanEdison indicates that the return on investment for educational paths, also called the return on education, is higher for vocational training than for more “traditional” educational pursuits. The leading vocational training provider in the renewable energy industries, CleanEdison released its findings in a white paper comparing the earnings premium for skills-based education programs with those of associate's and bachelor’s degrees.

Affordable Courses and Higher Earnings

A factor that contributes quite clearly to the superior ROI of vocational trainings is the amount of the investment. Where a skills-based training program, such as BPI certification classes at CleanEdison will typically cost less than $3,000, the average costs of an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from a public institution are upwards of $8,000, $55,000 and $95,000 respectively. Further contributing to the superior ROI of vocational trainings is the higher earnings premium associated with these trainings in contrast with comparable education levels. For example, the median annual salary for graduates from CleanEdison’s courses is over $50,000, whereas the median annual salary for associate’s degree holders is just above $43,000.

Perhaps more surprising, the findings also indicate that there is a surplus of jobs available for people with alternative professional credentials, such as a vocational training certificate. This only adds to the value of these types of trainings, as they lead to higher job security and longer term employability than do other degrees. This information is of interest to policy makers and prospective students alike, and should be taken into consideration for the future of educational expenditures.

For Transparency's Sake

Now I know what you're thinking, and yes: the writer of this article works for CleanEdison. That is probably obvious. But more important than marketing the value of CleanEdison's programs is highlighting the need for vocational education overall. Vocational skills programs (that prepare people for actual jobs that already need to be filled) get a fraction of the federal support that other post-secondary education avenues do. The lesson to be learned here is this: if we wish to move forward as a country that remains competitive in technological innovation and renewable energy, we must place a higher worth on vocational skills and the rewarding careers that they lead to. 

For anyone considering educational or upskilling alternatives, it is advisable to invest in short-form vocational programs that lead to long term career rewards. In particular, the clean energy industries are teeming with employment opportunities for those with the proper credentials. The Solar Foundation's solar job census is testimony to that, but we'd love to hear more. If you have a vocational certificate or professional credential, comment on this post and let us know. How did it pay off?

For more information, the CleanEdison white paper can be downloaded here

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