Community Colleges Whose Graduates Earn the Most Money

Career landscapes and industry needs are constantly evolving, and so are the ways Americans seek the skills needed to pursue their chosen professions. With combined student loan debt reaching a staggering $1.68 trillion in 2020, many individuals looking to advance their education and career are seeking alternatives to traditional four-year universities.

Currently, 15 states cover college costs for students who meet certain income levels, community service fulfillments, and grade requirements. As of 2019, legislators in 23 states had proposed similar programs. While the program requirements, and financial allotments, are different from state to state, there is a growing movement across party lines to create alternative avenues for workforce training.

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A stock image shows a group of students. Over a dozen coronavirus infections have been linked to a college in California.

States also use various—and at times complex—grant and reimbursement models to fund these education programs. And while students might find that amounts provided offset the majority of their educational costs (including tuition), but not all. Course fees, transportation, and book costs are often not covered by the state. Some states require recipients of aid from these programs to remain in-state for a certain amount of time after graduation, or only offer funding towards skills that benefit certain local industries.

Even in states without free or discounted education programs, community colleges cost a small fraction of what a prospective student could end up spending on a four-year degree, making them the most viable financial option for many. Stacker compiled a list of the community colleges whose graduates earn the most money, using 2020 data from Payscale. Colleges are ranked by mid-career pay, with ties broken by early career pay. Colleges that primarily issue bachelor's degrees were not considered.

As the country's demand for skilled workers expands past the output of graduates from four-year colleges, encouraging individuals to pursue two-year degree programs and professional training programs is a feasible solution when trying to meet the needs of growing industries. Considering time spent, financial cost, and earring potential, community colleges often provide programs that are on the forefront of career development.

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#50. St. Peter's Hospital College of Nursing

- Mid-career pay: $71,000
- Early career pay: $51,700

Located in Albany, New York, St. Peter's Hospital College of Nursing offers a two-year associate of science degree, which can be pursued either part-time or full-time, depending on what prerequisites are completed by entering students. After completion of the program, graduates can pursue licensure as a registered nurse, or continue on towards completion of a four-year degree at a number of nearby colleges.

#49. William Rainey Harper College

- Mid-career pay: $71,100
- Early career pay: $45,300

Offering a wide variety of associate degree programs, William Rainey Harper College students can pursue subjects like performing arts, construction, engineering, or social sciences, among many others. The school also offers numerous opportunities for social engagement, and currently offers grants of up to $4,000 for individuals affected by COVID-19 interested in studying subjects that range from cybersecurity to medical cannabis.

#48. Skyline College

- Mid-career pay: $71,100
- Early career pay: $47,500

Skyline College has a wide range of professional training and education programs. Students can earn an associate degree, bachelor's degree, or a professional certificate. Those who don't want to spend four years at school can complete a solar energy technician program in 17 weeks.

#47. Shoreline Community College

- Mid-career pay: $71,200
- Early career pay: $49,000

Offering options for student housing and more than 100 different programs, Shoreline Community College provides students in the Seattle area a full education at a reasonable cost. Support programs at the college help connect students with careers after graduation, including helping with resume-building and bringing potential employers on campus to meet the students. The college offers advancement for individuals of varying skill sets through its Community Employment Program, which helps those with disabilities benefit from having job coaching and career support.

#46. New York Institute of Technology

- Mid-career pay: $71,200
- Early career pay: $49,400

Representing all 50 states and more than 100 countries, the 9,000-person student body of the non-profit New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) promotes advancement along multiple avenues in technology, medicine, and digital arts. NYIT's innovation labs program provides students the ability to use 3D printers as well as tools to help with computer programming or design of complex circuitry. The school also allow students to sign out devices ranging from laptops and iPads to virtual reality equipment.

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Sacramento City College
Sacramento City College Google Maps

#45. Sacramento City College

- Mid-career pay: $71,300
- Early career pay: $47,100

Within the many offerings at Sacramento City College is the option to pursue an education resulting in a certification or an associate's degree. With available grants and access to local Promise programs, the college provides residents with access to affordable education. Finding work after completing a program is made easier with career services and access to alumni through the Handshake app.

#44. County College of Morris

- Mid-career pay: $71,500
- Early career pay: $46,700

With a complete campus experience, including athletic teams and fitness facilities, New Jersey's County College of Morris provides a wide range of opportunities for both student life and education. The school's new Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center provides students with the opportunity to study robotics and can be used by employers seeking to advance their employees' education. Even local high school students studying vocational careers will have use of the newly designed facility.

#43. Ranken Technical College

- Mid-career pay: $71,600
- Early career pay: $48,700

Ranken Technical College (RTC) allows students to get immediate hands-on experience before charging into careers in the manufacturing, refrigeration, gas, and electrical fields, among others. The school partners with companies so graduates have a direct line into the workforce. Offering certifications as well as associate's and bachelor's degrees, RTC provides young learners and those looking to further skills, or learn something new, a variety of options in numerous well-paid and consistently-hiring fields.

#42. Chabot College

- Mid-career pay: $71,700
- Early career pay: $47,100

Offering a free first year to first-time learners, Chabot College in Hayward, California, gives prospective students many reasons to apply. Students can earn professional certifications and associate's degrees, as well as numerous two-year transfer programs for those looking to pursue a bachelor's degree or more.

#41. Ohlone College

- Mid-career pay: $71,800
- Early career pay: $48,400

Ohlone College gets its name from a local tribe, known to the Miwuk as Ohlones, which translates to "people of the West." This ode to the heritage of the area's native people comes through in the school's commitment to diversity. With multiple campus locations and enriching online program, the curriculum can be accessed by a large population through various methods.

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#40. Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science

- Mid-career pay: $71,800
- Early career pay: $50,500

Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science offers hospital-based training in the medical field as a non-profit, private Catholic school. Located inside the Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, the highly focused programs allow students real-world experience. Some of the school's more advanced degrees are offered entirely online, and there are a number of options for early learners or those already in the field seeking to further their education.

#39. Mercy College of Health Sciences

- Mid-career pay: $71,800
- Early career pay: $51,200

Located in Des Moines, Iowa, Mercy College of Health Sciences provides medical training programs that result in certificates, associate's degrees, or bachelor's degrees. Along with technical training, the school offers programs that focus on building compassion in the medicine, science, and education fields.

#38. St. Joseph School of Nursing

- Mid-career pay: $71,800
- Early career pay: $52,600

St. Joseph School of Nursing offers a two-year program for those looking to get training in the field of medical assisting, as well as one- and two-year programs in nursing. The school provides the same education at the same cost, regardless of an individual's residency. No prerequisites are needed to enter St. Joseph's complete programs.

#37. Bakersfield College

- Mid-career pay: $72,000
- Early career pay: $47,300

Bakersfield College provides a large variety of support services for incoming students through programs like CalWORKS, which focuses on helping to advance students by way of added grants and program waivers. The school even provides legal services and grants for undocumented students.

#36. Lake Washington Institute of Technology

- Mid-career pay: $72,000
- Early career pay: $49,100

Located in Kirkland, Washington, Lake Washington Institute of Technology offers a competitive education at a reasonable price with a per-credit cost for residents at just over $100. Included in the school's degree offerings are information, lessons, and lectures put into the public domain by the Open Education Resources project. Programs offered through that initiative include education materials in math, psychology, chemistry, and biology.

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#35. GateWay Community College

- Mid-career pay: $72,100
- Early career pay: $50,500

GateWay Community College has five locations throughout Phoenix and offers more than 160 degree and certificate programs. From learning a new skill, earning an associate's degree, or for students planning to eventually transfer to a university, GateWay is designed to give students a leg up no matter what the future holds. Programs vary dramatically from automotive repair to the arts.

#34. Moorpark College

- Mid-career pay: $72,200
- Early career pay: $45,500

Moorpark College offers a large assortment of professional training programs leading to a certificate or a degree. Included in the school's student services is a program specific to individuals covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) act. Among Moorpark's offerings are online courses meant for students of all ages seeking to advance in their fields or change careers.

#33. Northern Virginia Community College

- Mid-career pay: $72,300
- Early career pay: $47,400

With small class sizes and more than 100 programs, Northern Virginia Community College offers something for almost everyone. Prospective students can utilize the school's self-guided FOCUS 2 career planning service to see how specific programs can funnel graduates directly into their chosen careers.

#32. Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing

- Mid-career pay: $72,700
- Early career pay: $50,400

With connections to a network of medical providers in the St. Peter's Health Partners network, Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing offers an associate's degree program to become a registered nurse as well as a certificate for those looking to qualify as a practical nurse. The school prides itself on students' high pass rate for the licensing exams needed to join the profession.

#31. Foothill College

- Mid-career pay: $72,700
- Early career pay: $51,200

Foothill College in Los Altos, California, focuses primarily on associate's degree programs and professional certificates, with its only bachelor of science program being in dental hygiene. The school has a dental clinic for those students, and other amenities like a bamboo garden, an Olympic pool, and an observatory.

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#30. Maine College of Health Professions

- Mid-career pay: $73,000
- Early career pay: $52,300

Specializing in nursing programs, Maine College of Health Professions prides itself on an entirely online program that helps registered nurses achieve a bachelor of science in nursing. They also offer programs in radiology and health sciences, as well as a unique interprofessional collaboration program for practitioners and students to learn together.

#29. Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

- Mid-career pay: $73,100
- Early career pay: $47,500

Serving residents of the Boston area, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology has a job-placement rate of 85%. Most students at the small school receive financial aid, and the ratio of students to faculty allows for greater access to educators. The school has professional partnerships with dozens of companies, from Warby Parker to GE Aviation.

#28. Brazosport College

- Mid-career pay: $73,600
- Early career pay: $43,800

With expanding campus facilities and course offerings, Brazosport College offers numerous complete programs as well as those geared toward transferring to schools with more varied four-year degree options. Hands-on learning for programs in tech, welding, or science can be found at the school's specialized facilities.

#27. Glendale Community College (Arizona)

- Mid-career pay: $73,600
- Early career pay: $48,400

Glendale Community College has a substantial number of course offerings and is partnered with multiple state colleges for those looking to transfer after receiving an associate degree. The progressive administration pledged to go carbon neutral by 2025. Among a wide range of student services, the school offers an extensive support network for veterans seeking career counseling.

#26. San Jacinto Community College

- Mid-career pay: $73,700
- Early career pay: $44,600

San Jacinto Community College offers more than 200 professional certificates and degrees. The school offers intensive courses that are condensed over shorter periods, online classes, and schedules for nights and weekends. The school has five campus locations and 12 satellite locations throughout the greater Houston area.

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#25. CUNY New York City College of Technology

- Mid-career pay: $73,700
- Early career pay: $47,900

Boasting a brand new multi-use theater space in Brooklyn, CUNY New York City College of Technology contains a diverse array of students pursuing associate's and bachelor's degrees. Programs are broken down into three separate schools including professional studies, technology and design, and arts and sciences.

#24. St. Joseph's College of Nursing

- Mid-career pay: $73,700
- Early career pay: $52,300

St. Joseph's College of Nursing in Syracuse, New York, offers a wide assortment of training options from dual degree programs and graduate degrees to courses for high school students. There is even a program built around evening and weekend courses for those working full-time who are interested in pursuing a nursing degree. The school's dual-degree program allows students to spend two years studying in order to earn an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree at the same time.

#23. City College of San Francisco

- Mid-career pay: $73,800
- Early career pay: $50,700

With courses geared towards high school students, all the way to materials for career professionals looking to advance in their current field, the more than 250 programs at City College of San Francisco span a wide range. City College also offers free adult education classes for those seeking to gain skills without the need for a certificate or credits.

#22. Orange Coast College

- Mid-career pay: $73,900
- Early career pay: $45,500

Unlike most community colleges in California, Orange Coast College provides housing for students in newly built, fully furnished apartments. With 29 degree-transfer programs, students wanting more than a two-year degree are able to finish their educations at the University of California or anywhere within the University of California or California State University networks.

#21. West Valley College

- Mid-career pay: $74,100
- Early career pay: $47,700

West Valley College offers the goal-oriented student a number of learning communities and support programs specializing in assistance with career planning, veterans benefits, and programs for individuals with disabilities. A community-based partnership between the school and local organizations provides direct connections and experience for those interested in social work and community services.

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#20. Dunwoody College of Technology

- Mid-career pay: $74,100
- Early career pay: $51,100

Located in Minneapolis, Dunwoody College of Technology provides a variety of programs that can help to further careers or impart new skills. The private, not-for-profit institution gives students experiences often found at more traditional four-year universities including student housing and study-abroad programs. Dunwoody also partners directly with local industries in order to work toward meeting state employment needs.

#19. College of Staten Island CUNY

- Mid-career pay: $74,200
- Early career pay: $53,200

College of Staten Island CUNY offers multiple avenues toward education advancement through programs separated into five different schools. Thanks to a partnership with other City University of New York schools, the school offers certain doctoral programs on campus, as well as many different associate's and bachelor's degree programs.

#18. Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

- Mid-career pay: $74,400
- Early career pay: $48,600

With programs in aviation electronics and maintenance, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics is a specialized technical school bringing students straight into the trade with worthwhile experience. The school claims an employment rate for graduates topping 90% and offers career support for graduates entering the workforce.

#17. Perry Technical Institute

- Mid-career pay: $74,700
- Early career pay: $51,400

Students at Perry Technical Institute have the opportunity to advance their career incomes despite past circumstances, according to a 2017 report from the New York Times. The school awards substantial scholarships to students, and produces graduates who enter directly into their chosen fields. With small class sizes and a focus on trade advancement, the school provides opportunities to grow income in less time.

#16. College of San Mateo

- Mid-career pay: $74,800
- Early career pay: $52,200

The College of San Mateo is part of a three-school district. The college's unique Writing in the End Zone program offers a combination of services for students and athletes needing support in English studies classes. The service teams up English professors and football coaches to help students succeed through a collaborative approach.

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Diablo Valley College
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#15. Diablo Valley College

- Mid-career pay: $74,900
- Early career pay: $47,000

Diablo Valley College offers a wide assortment of programs, including career services for high school students looking to move their educations forward, and for professional workers seeking advancement. The school offers courses in languages, humanities, science, tech, and the arts.

#14. Cabrillo College

- Mid-career pay: $75,200
- Early career pay: $49,300

Cabrillo College offers numerous professional partnerships with community organizations and businesses. Students looking to work on climate issues and sustainability have paths of study, along with ways to utilize their education by helping to implement campus initiatives, and opportunities to collaborate with local green programs.

#13. Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology

- Mid-career pay: $75,500
- Early career pay: $50,600

Serving the need for workers in emerging tech fields, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology boasts small student-to-teacher ratios and high employment rates for students post-graduation. Focusing on engineering, aviation, and management, the school offers classes for high school students all the way up to graduate-level degrees. Utilizing multiple job connection programs, their career services help 83% of students find work in their field of study within a year of graduating.

#12. Saddleback College

- Mid-career pay: $75,600
- Early career pay: $45,500

Located in Mission Viejo, California, Saddleback College provides diverse opportunities for learning and improvement. The school offers child care and help specific to foster youth and disadvantaged students, among other support services. Older adults can study for free through the school's Emeritus Program.

#11. De Anza College

- Mid-career pay: $76,300
- Early career pay: $52,800

De Anza College prides itself on its ability to help students get started and eventually transfer to four-year state colleges. With a new library, complete with computer labs and connections to information databases, students have easy access to needed information. The school has athletics teams and social organizations that help to round out an already rich, full education experience.

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#10. Kettering College

- Mid-career pay: $76,300
- Early career pay: $55,400

Kettering College focuses on getting its students trained and working in the medical field of their choice quickly. The college offers programs ranging from professional certificates to graduate degrees to help graduates enter the medical field as a sonographer, physician's assistant, or another specialty. The faith-based school's service programs offer opportunities to help underserved populations locally and internationally.

#9. Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

- Mid-career pay: $76,400
- Early career pay: $55,200

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences waived enrollment deposits and now provides virtual tours. The school is also offering online classes to train front-line workers to serve immediate needs brought on by the crisis. Complete with medical lab facilities, they offer a range of programs from certificates to doctoral degrees. The school provides shuttle services and housing to students, as well hosting various social clubs.

#8. Evergreen Valley College

- Mid-career pay: $76,600
- Early career pay: $49,600

Located in San Jose, California, Evergreen Valley College provides a wide range of education and support services for its students, including emergency funding to assist students during the statewide lockdowns created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The school offers a complete virtual campus and programs specifically designed to support minority groups.

#7. Fashion Institute of Technology

- Mid-career pay: $77,200
- Early career pay: $46,000

Fashion Institute of Technology is well-known across the fashion and design industry as a provider of high-level education for students. The school offers business incubator and accelerator programs for alumni. Though heavy in focus on various design fields, the school's programs span a wide range, including an in-house business school.

#6. Bellevue College

- Mid-career pay: $78,000
- Early career pay: $49,600

Located near some of Washington's most beautiful natural landmarks, Bellevue College provides professional certificates and associate's and bachelor's degrees, along with adult learning services and help for those seeking a GED. The school provides a rich campus experience with amenities like wellness center services, gallery and theater spaces, and even a planetarium.

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Colorado Northwest Community College
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#5. Colorado Northwestern Community College

- Mid-career pay: $78,100
- Early career pay: $55,800

Colorado Northwestern Community College prepares students to enter the workforce or pursue continue their educations at a four-year college. Along with being an affordable school, Colorado Northwestern accepts credits earned through the Alternative Credit Project, which offers courses for free (or nearly free), making it a good option for students who have already begun coursework but haven't completed a program.

#4. Belanger School of Nursing

- Mid-career pay: $81,000
- Early career pay: $58,200

The Belanger School of Nursing is incorporated into Ellis Medicine, a northern New York-based health care system. Total tuition and fees for the two-year associate degree in nursing program run just under $10,000 per year.

#3. Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

- Mid-career pay: $81,100
- Early career pay: $57,700

Providing a hospital-based education, Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing gives students the opportunity to enter their fields with the confidence of first-hand experience. The school's associate's degree program prepares students to take licensing exams: 90% of recent graduates passed on the first try.

#2. Laboure College

- Mid-career pay: $86,700
- Early career pay: $64,500

Specializing in training students to meet growing health care needs, Laboure College is one of the top schools for advancing into a well-paying career. With small class sizes and many attending students already working full-time or providing for families, the school is accustomed to supporting a variety of needs in order to help individuals succeed. Students at the school range in age from 18 to 64 and come from various backgrounds.

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#1. Helene Fuld College of Nursing

- Mid-career pay: $91,100
- Early career pay: $68,900

Located in New York City, Helene Fuld College of Nursing offers top-tier nurse training programs. The school includes a department to help veterans utilize benefits and engage with their educations. Within 28 months, a student with no prior nursing background can gain a bachelor's degree in the field.