Data Show College Doesn’t Pay Off for Women
Men still command higher salaries than women in the same occupation, according to an article published by the U.S. Census Bureau, and education doesn’t help matters. “While workers with a bachelor’s degree earn about double that of their co-workers without a college education, the difference between men’s and women’s earnings widens with more education,” demographer Jennifer Cheeseman Day reports for the Bureau.
Women with a bachelor’s degree earn about 4 cents less on the dollar than women without degrees. “Among workers with a bachelor’s degree, women earn 74 cents for every dollar men make, which is less than the 78 cents for workers without the college degree,” says Cheeseman Day in the article College Degree Widens Gender Earnings Gap.
Education isn’t the only factor in the salary gap: Age and occupation have a lot to do with it, as well.
What’s Age Got To Do With It?
The salary gap may be somewhat skewed because the data compares salaries to age and education, and not years of experience. Naturally, someone just starting out will make less than someone who has been working for several years, with or without a college degree. The findings would be more accurate if the data compared male and female workers with and without a bachelor’s degree who are the same age and have the same amount of work experience in the same occupation.
“Higher pay reflects years of work experience and pay raises. The earnings differences between men and women also peak in their 50s, although men on average earn more at every age than their female counterparts,” says Cheeseman Day.
See how salaries compare for medical coders and other healthcare business professionals in AAPC’s 2018 Salary Survey.
Occupation Has a Lot to Do With It
The earnings gap does not apply to every occupation: Phlebotomists, electricians, and social workers, for example, tend to earn equal pay. This isn’t the case for medical billers who possess a bachelor’s degree.
An interactive visualization tool shows median earnings for various occupations, which can be delineated by education level, earning ratio, occupation size, percentage of women, and age. As shown in Chart 1, male billing and posting clerks (e.g., medical billers) fare better than females. For workers with a bachelor’s degree, men earn median salary of $51,298 at the median age of 36.6 compared to women who earn a median salary of $37,416 at the median age of 42.
With less than a bachelor’s, however, the salary gap greatly narrows: Men earn about $36,139 at age 41.2 and women earn about $34,327 at age 46.1. This insinuates that women with a bachelor’s degree not only get paid less than men but do not get paid much more than women without bachelor’s degrees, contrary to Cheeseman Day’s claim that a college education will double your salary.
Do I need a college degree to get a job as a medical coder?
We’re asked that question a lot. Generally, no, you do not need an associate degree or higher to obtain a medical coding or billing position. Experience and certification are typically higher priorities to employers than formal education. Considering revenue cycle integrity jobs are filled primarily by women, and data show college does not pay women a huge return in this field, that may be enough. Continued learning, however, is essential for healthcare business professionals to keep up with the medical industry.
Cheeseman Day, Jennifer, United States Census Bureau, www.census.gov, May 29, 2019
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AAPC's annual salary survey gives a good understanding of the earning potential within the medical coding profession.
See what actually is going on in the healthcare business job market.