Workforce Outcomes: Non-College Going Students
Wage Visibility


Understanding employment outcomes for students who do not attend college can help state policymakers determine when and where support programs are needed to assist these students in securing gainful employment. Research shows that there are significant financial burdens and costs to society for individuals who do not complete high school or individuals who complete high school but are not fully engaged in the workforce. The tabs above will walk you though the following topics:

  • Population - Provides a description of the population studied and describes which students are included and excluded from the analysis.
  • Wage Visibility - Provides an analysis of which members of the studied population have wage records and provides reasons why wage records may not be available.
  • Wages - Provides wages by industry of the population being studied.  Specifically, wages earned in the five industries with the most wage records are provided for each of the sub-groups in the studied population.
  • Findings - Provides a summary of the findings from the research conducted on this population.


This spotlight provides a summary of the MLDS Center research report on the Workforce Outcomes for Maryland Students Who Do Not Attend College.

This report was authored by Dr. Terry V. Shaw, Principal Investigator for the MLDS Center Research Branch and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work; Ms. Susan Klumpner, Researcher with the MLDS Center Research Branch and AM at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work; Dr. Angela Henneberger, Director of the MLDS Center Research Branch and Research Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work.


1. This study included individuals who, in academic year 2009-2010, were either:

  • Students enrolled in high school; or
  • GED earners between the ages of 16 and 21.

2. This study excluded any of these individuals if they enrolled in college by the time of the study.





MD Public HS or G.E.D students (age 16-21) in academic year 2009-10
Number of students who enrolled in college.
Total Population for Study.
Total Population for Study
Students in Enrolled in H.S. 
  • Earned a diploma - 71%
  • Earned a Certificate of Program Completion1 - 4%
  • Persisted to a diploma2 - 4%
  • Persisted to GED/Certificate of Completion - 6%
  • Non-Completers3 (did not attain a MD diploma, certificate, or GED - 4%

Diploma via GED (16-21)


  1. Certificate of Program Completion – This certificate is only awarded to students with disabilities who cannot meet the requirements for a diploma but who meet the standards established by the State Board of Education in regulations.
  2. Persist – Students who persisted to a diploma or a GED or Certificate of Completion earned the achievement after the 2009-2010 school year.
  3. Non-completers – includes students who transferred, withdrew from high school, or had an unknown status.

Wage Visibility


Before presenting findings on the variation in earnings among these high school achievement groups, it is important to understand the extent of wage visibility in the data. Wage visibility refers to whether a person appears in the MLDS Center wage data. A lack of wage visibility should not be confused with unemployment. There are several reasons why a wage record may not be available for a student.  Those reasons include:

  • The student is unemployed;
  • The student has left the state of Maryland;
  • The student’s education data was incomplete and therefore could not be matched to a wage record, even if one existed; or
  • The student’s employment is not part of the Center’s wage records. The Center’s source for wage records is the Unemployment Insurance records.  Employers report their employees’ quarterly wages to the Maryland Department of Labor. However, the federal government and the military, certain tax exempt non-profit organizations, and self-employed individuals, such as independent contractors, do not report wages.

For this study, there is a wage record for 72% of the studied population.


Given the data limitations described above, the level of unemployment among the various groups cannot be determined.  However, it is likely that the low wage visibility among Certificate of Program Completion students and students who persist to a Certificate of Completion or GED are due in part to a higher rate of unemployment than the other groups analyzed.


To understand the workforce outcomes of the population of students in this study, the median wages are reported by group and by industry.

  • The median wages were calculated as four-quarter wages, meaning that wage earners were only included in these figures if they earned wages for all four quarters in a given year. (Thus, people with sporadic wage records in a given year are not represented.)
  • Wages are reported for the top industries  in which this population was employed.  The top industries include the following.
  1. The students in this population did not attend college.


Summary of Student Group Wages by Sector

For each student group, the highest earning industry sector is listed.

All Students Combined



  • Other Services
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Other Services
  • Construction
  • Health Care and Social Assistance


Certificate of

  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Administrative Support and Wast Management and Remediation Services Industry
  • Administration and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services Industry
  • No clear second highest earning industry.

Overall, this study demonstrated that:

  • The workforce outcomes for Maryland students who did not attend college varied by high school achievement type.
  • The highest overall median wages were earned by students with a high school diploma, followed by diploma earned via GED, then high school non-completers, and finally students who earned a certificate of completion.
  • The workforce industries that consistently had the highest median wages for students across these achievement categories were the health care and social assistance industry, and the administrative support and waste management and remediation services industry.
  • The findings of this study highlight the importance of high school completion, preferably with a regular high school diploma, or possibly a diploma via GED program, for supporting better workforce outcomes.