Is there a Good Return on Investment from a Child Development Degree?

Will you get a good child development degree return on investment (ROI)? Many organizations rank colleges based on return of investment, but these calculations are college-wide and take into account highly-paid career fields like engineering and other STEM subjects. PayScale’s college return on investment rankings feature engineering and technology universities like MIT, Harvey Mudd College, and CalTech at the top of the ROI rankings, with annual percentage rates of return of 15 to 20% for the top-ranking schools. The total increased earnings can be as much as $1 million or more over a career, compared to the average college degree. If you want to teach young children and aid in their development instead of designing complex machinery, can you get a good return on investment from your college degree? The answer depends on the cost of your degree, the amount of grants you can receive, as well as the type of work you plan to do after you graduate.

ROI Calculations and Methods

You may be disappointed to learn that some websites like and show a low return on investment for child development degrees. Their calculations are based on an average cost of $37,343 for a four-year liberal arts degree from a public college and $121,930 for four-year degree from a private college. These calculations then add up the average earnings for 30 years of work without a college degree and compare it to the same period of average earnings for a child development graduate. An estimated cost of living increase is included, and the cost of the degree is subtracted from the earnings gain. The percentage or dollar amount of difference between the degree cost and salary gains represents the return on investment (ROI). Using this method, determined that the 30-year ROI of an early childhood educator with a public college degree was 43%, while the ROI for a private college degree in the field was 13%. This isn’t losing money but it’s not a very large salary difference between a high school graduate and college graduate over a working lifetime.

Teaching Credential ROI

If you earn a degree in early childhood education and also become a credentialed teacher, you could teach in a school-based program and earn a much higher ROI on your college investment. reports that elementary school teachers will earn almost twice as much as daycare center teachers over their working lifetime. They receive an average of 82% ROI if their degree is from a public college, and 24% if they attend a private college or university. Some professions and jobs open to individuals with early childhood education degrees are not available to people who have high school diplomas, such as childcare center director, program director and similar roles. You also cannot obtain a teaching credential with only a high school diploma.

The child development degree return on investment isn’t as high as many other college degrees, including ordinary humanities degrees and teaching credentials. If you love to teach young children and want to work in the field, you can maximize your return on investment by choosing the most affordable college options and obtaining grants to reduce your college costs.

Related resource:

Top 14 Cheap Online Child Development Degree Programs