BROOKINGS: How to find out what graduates of that cosmetology program actually make

Career College Central Summary:

  • For a prospective student considering a job-training program, one question that can be hard to answer accurately is: What am I likely to earn if I finish the program?
  • Even if a school wanted to provide an accurate answer, the best it can do is survey graduates and hope for enough honest answers to give a reliable reply. Census data does provide earnings of college grads by major. Payscale gathers data on wages and education on its website, but relies on visitors to its website to volunteer information. College Measures pulls data from state unemployment insurance reporting systems to give a glimpse of salaries at some states' two- and four-year schools.
  • But what if you're contemplating a certificate in cosmetology or massage therapy in Los Angeles or a medical assistant training program in Miami? An obscure Education Department “gainful employment” website has some hard facts. It posts earnings data for each of several thousand programs that are taken directly from paychecks by the Social Security Administration, which keeps tabs on worker's earnings in order to calculate future retirement benefits.
  • For many programs, the picture isn't pretty.
  • Take the Newberry School of Beauty in Granada Hills, Calif. As required by the Education Department, it discloses on its website that the 12-month program in cosmetology costs $15,818. It also says that nearly two-thirds of the students took loans to pay for the schooling, that only 42% of those who completed the program did so in 12 months, and that 79% of those who completed the program between July 1, 2013, and July 30, 2014, got a job within six months of graduation. If you dig a little deeper, one finds that 28 of the 35 graduates in the Class of ’13 landed cosmetology jobs; all were working less than 32 hours a week.
  • The required disclosures reveal little about how much money those graduates make.
  • The answer, according to the latest data on the government's "gainful employment" web site, is: Not much.

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