Noncredit Research Collaborative

Labor Market Returns to Community College Noncredit Occupational Education.


Millions of students enroll in community colleges noncredit programs every year—most in occupational training—but there are few large-scale studies of their effectiveness in increasing students’ employment opportunities and earnings. In this study, we applied individual fixed effects models to state longitudinal administrative data from Texas to estimate the labor market returns to community college noncredit occupational education. We find a modest but statistically significant increase in average quarterly earnings exceeding $500 per quarter (2019 dollars). Returns vary by duration of training, field of study, and number of training spells. Our findings speak to ongoing national policy debates about expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to include some community college noncredit programs, as well numerous state efforts to increase workforce readiness.