Community College Grads Move to Better-Paying Fields in Years After Graduation, Data Shows

A new report on Connecticut community college graduates finds that shortly after leaving college, many graduates are employed in industries such as retail and food service, but within months many move to other industries for employment, led by manufacturing and health care. The analysis also found that average wages rise significantly in the years following graduation.

The on-line analysis is made possible by P20-WIN, the Preschool through 20 Workforce Information Network. P20-WIN securely links education and workforce data to provide answers to help improve education programs and workforce alignment.  The latest issue of the Connecticut Economic Digest, published by the state Department of Labor, included a report on the data. 


Comparing the fields in which graduates were employed three quarters after their graduation, in 2015 or 2016, to their employment in the third quarter of 2018, the analysis found that the number employed in retail trade, accommodation & food services, and arts & recreation declined and earnings climbed.

The average quarterly wage earned by employed 2015-2016 community college graduates increased from $7,994 in the third quarter after graduation to $9,626 – a more than 20% increase - in what for most graduates is a year and a half.

The data reflected that women make up 61% of employed community college graduates, ranging for 72% of those from Capital Community College in Hartford to 44% of those from Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield. Asnuntuck also had the highest percentage of employed graduates who were under 25 at the time of graduation (64%), while Capital had the lowest (26%) compared to 48% for all community colleges.


A majority of graduates were under age 25 at six of the state’s twelve community colleges.  Overall, 47% were age 18-14 and 50% were age 25-54 across the 12 community colleges.  The data also showed that 58% of students were white, 18% were Hispanic/Latino, and 12.6% were Black. 

The most prevalent fields in which 2016 graduates were employed:  Health Care and Social Assistance (22.7%), Educational Services (22.7%), Retail (7.6%), Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (7.6%),

While the report does not include information regarding the self-employed, those working out of state, or federal employment, the information about the industry of employment and earnings of recent graduates “can help inform program planning by institutions and career planning for current and potential students,” the Digest pointed out.