On this page we present a calculator with estimated income percentiles for fulltime college educated workers. Data is from the 2016 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) and was retrieved from the University of Minnesota’s Population Center.
‘Full-time workers’ in this piece includes everyone working 30 or more hours per week. We’re using the full-time worker definition in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as Obamacare).
On the ‘College-Educated’ side, we’ve presented a number of options for you to make your own definition: anywhere from some college education no degree to Master’s Degree. All categories are inclusive (so Some College will include Master’s).
How Many Fulltime Workers In America Have a College Education?
Here are our best estimates for the number of people working 30+ hours with a college education in 2015 (all numbers inclusive):
- 18+ Population: 141,600,699
- Some College: 91,019,081
- Associate Degree: 64,698,797
- Bachelor’s Degree: 49,513,525
- Master’s Degree: 18,993,204
Yes, we saw that too – the majority of full-time workers in America have at least some college education. Maybe that’s the buried lede?
Which is the Best Definition to Use for ‘College Educated’?
Since many of you have asked: we prefer the some college descriptor best.
There is some evidence that the selection process may be what matters most – that is, being selected at schools may be more important than attending them. (See, for example, the famous Stacey Dale and Alan Kreuger Study [PDF]).
Now, that doesn’t necessarily apply to those who do not graduate after being accepted. Here are some anecdotes instead: Jobs, Gates, Dell, Zuckerberg, Winfrey, Cameron, Geffen, Ellison, Abe Lincoln…
Use your best judgement or run multiple calculations. It’s fast enough.
Source and Methodology on the College Education Fulltime Worker Income Calculator
The methodology we used was the standard one for our income calculators. First, we filtered for 30+ hours worked. Second, we broke everything into the 4 education buckets. The four resulting CSVs are linked at the end. You can see how we defined a ‘worker’ in the Income Percentile Calculator.
Miriam King, Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek, Matthew B. Schroeder, Brandon Trampe, and Rebecca Vick. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0. [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.
Grab your own data here: IPUMS-CPS.
Dataset Size and Quality
- Datapoint Range: Max (Some College): 59,333, Min (Master’s) 11,892
- Population estimate: above
Too Esoteric For You?
Yes, we know – we’re pretty deep in the weeds here. (So before you ask for something like “The income of 36 year old people who take Tuesdays off”… we’ll probably leave this data-set alone for a bit.)
We don’t plan on going further here to delve into majors or anything unless the mood hits like in the developer series. But hey, requests are requests… and this has been a common one. Hope it answered some lingering questions!
If you want to browse the data , you can access the raw CSVs here: