Why is Post-Secondary Education Important?

G. Wiesen

There are numerous reasons why post-secondary education is important, though this often comes down to requirements for employment in various industries and professions. In some professions, this level of education may be required to gain certification or licensure, which is often required to work in these professions. Other industries may not strictly require such education for employment, but it often provides an advantage for those who may be looking for work against competition. Some people may also want post-secondary education for personal growth and development, especially in specialized areas or for those interested in continuing education.

Post-secondary education courses may help people advance in their careers.
Post-secondary education courses may help people advance in their careers.

Post-secondary education, sometimes known as tertiary education, refers to education gained at colleges, universities, technical schools, and other institutions following completion of high school or a similar education. This is often voluntary or optional education, even in countries in which primary and secondary education is legally mandated. A great deal of research has indicated that those with post-secondary education typically earn more money over their lifetimes, though this is likely a corollary relationship due to employment opportunities and not necessarily indicative of causality.

Some people need to continue their education in order to keep up with the latest developments in their field.
Some people need to continue their education in order to keep up with the latest developments in their field.

One of the most important aspects of a post-secondary education is that it is often required for employment in a number of different fields. Many professions that require licensure, such as practicing in physical or mental health or education, require a certain level of post-secondary education prior to taking the examination necessary for licensure. This is often legally mandated, and cannot be avoided based on personal experience or knowledge.

Employers in technical industries often require tertiary education and certification for employment.
Employers in technical industries often require tertiary education and certification for employment.

There are also a number of industries in which post-secondary education assists with gaining certification that may not be required, but which is often mandated by companies that employ people in such professions. Employers in technical industries, such as information technology and engineering, often require tertiary education and certification for employment. Even professions that do not require certification for employment can be easier to enter with higher education. Such education is often used to separate individuals competing for employment, and may serve to establish one person as more qualified than another.

Post-secondary education can be important for people interested in continuing personal development.
Post-secondary education can be important for people interested in continuing personal development.

Post-secondary education can also be important for people interested in continuing personal development. Classes offered in various subject areas can help a person learn subjects and information for personal use. There are also numerous classes offered by many colleges and universities for continuing or ongoing education. This often provides people with updated information about subjects that may have been studied many years before.

It may be difficult for working adults to balance work and education courses.
It may be difficult for working adults to balance work and education courses.

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Discussion Comments


I have a degree in science from a university, and I cannot get a job related to it. Now I am 34, and I really, really want to go back to school to study philosophy, however I am very sure that a degree in philosophy won't get me any decent-paying, much less well-paying, jobs.


I have always said that getting a college education is important, but there are times when I really wonder if it is worth it.

I did graduate from college, and even if I have not specifically used my degree, do feel it has helped me get most jobs I have worked at. It is a good way to get your foot in the door.

What concerns me is how much debt some students incur to get this kind of education. If they can get a job that pays well, then it makes good sense to get some post-secondary education.

I just know so many people who have a college degree and can't get a job in the field. Do you know how many college graduates are working in restaurants or at minimum wage jobs?

It is hard to make a living and repay your student loans if you can't make enough money in your job to make college worth your time and money.


I am one of those rare people who knew even before starting high school what I wanted to do. Being a teacher was something I thought about doing since I was young, and that is what I pursued.

I knew that to get any kind of teaching job, I would need a post-secondary education. Many people I went to college with had no idea what they wanted to do.

I think that is one reason I enjoyed college is because I knew why I was there and what I needed to do to get my teaching degree.

A college education is just as important today as it was years ago. If you want a decent paying job, the best way to do that is to get a post-secondary education. This will give you many more opportunities in life than if you don't have one.


I'm sure that my college education helped me land my first job, but it did not make me rich. The skills I picked up during my graphic design courses gave me something to start with and a foot in the door. They did not, however, lead to a great salary.

It could be because the only place I was able to find employment in my field was at a newspaper. They generally don't pay their designers as much as an ad agency would.

I started out at $10 an hour and eventually progressed to $12. That was when I stopped getting raises. The company could not afford to pay me more than that.

I know that if I had been willing to relocate, I could have gotten a better paying position. You should always consider that factor before you decide on a field of study. If you want to remain where you are, choose something that has a high demand in your area.


I worked part-time all during my high school years at a department store. Dealing with rude customers, a mean boss, and low pay motivated me to pursue a post-secondary education.

I'm glad I spent three years at a terrible job. Otherwise, I would not have been so determined to do well in college. I also would not have been as motivated to study something that would lead to a lucrative career, where I could eventually be my own boss and not have to answer to anyone.

I graduated summa cum laude, and that looked great on my resume. My three years of hard work at a young age also impressed potential employers, and I was able to land my dream job.


@Oceana - I know what you mean. Some people use short-term schools like beauty schools as a cop-out, because they don't want to attend a college for four years. They want something fast, and they don't seem to care what that is or if they have the knack for it.

My sister decided to attend cosmetology school, just so our parents wouldn't make her go to college. Unlike your friend, she just didn't have the personality or the love for it. It just wasn't for her, so she dropped out after only two weeks.

People should always consider their natural talents and inclinations before entering into any type of post-secondary education. They shouldn't take shortcuts with their careers.


My best friend had already decided in high school not to go to a university. She did plan to get some post-secondary education, though. She decided to attend cosmetology school.

Some people are cut out for this, while others fail miserably. It requires a special type of person, and she happened to be that person. She was great at making conversation and at listening, both of which are important while you are working on someone's hair for hours.

She excelled at school, and her teachers commended her people skills. She learned all the stuff that can't come naturally, like how to give perms and apply color. She had the personality for it, but her education gave her the tools she needed for a career in cosmetology.


@drtroubles - If you are getting a loan through a bank, they generally don't care what kind of program you are entering, or how long it is. They are usually more concerned with whether or not you can pay back the money.

When it comes to scholarships and grants though, a lot of departments of education view what is considered an applicable program differently. Some say the program must be a minimum of two years, while others will only sponsor students who are going to university.

I think that once your daughter chooses a program she should start looking into funding. Just be aware that most short certificate programs aren't covered for scholarships.


Does anyone know if the post secondary education definition differs if you are applying for a loan?

My daughter has just finished up high school and is looking at a variety of programs, some at traditional universities and others offered at private colleges and trade schools. She is still a bit up in the air about what she wants to study, but we want to make sure she gets the funding she needs to cover the costs of tuition.

I would hate for my daughter to find a program she liked, but not have it count as a true post secondary program. Certificates, degrees, diplomas... there are just so many options.


It still amazes me that there are people that choose to forgo any education after high school. I think that post secondary school education is a must for everyone, even if your decide not to get your education at university, there are still lots of options.

Things like a college education that teaches a trade skill can really help a person to earn more money over there lifetime. I have a lot of friends who took things like early childhood education and are now in good, well-paying jobs. I think that more emphasis needs to be made on getting everyone an education that actually leads to a career.

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