High School Diploma vs GED: What’s the Difference?

GED vs high school diploma

Whether you’re fresh out of high school, currently in school, or never graduated, it’s important to understand how your educational background affects your career options. 

As of 2020, 65% of all jobs require postsecondary education and training after high school.

The U.S. is projected to add nearly 8.3 million new jobs by 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but how many of those jobs will require a GED vs high school diploma, or even higher level of education? According to BLS, occupations that require more education for entry are projected to grow faster than average.

The BLS also says that even within a favorable, strong economy, people with higher levels of education typically earn more and have lower rates of unemployment compared with those who have less education.

If you’re considering the value of earning your high school diploma vs GED, this article can help outline some of the pros and cons. But first, to understand the difference between a high school diploma and GED, let’s begin by discussing each credential in more detail.

What is a GED?

When you successfully complete all of your classes and graduate high school, you receive a high school diploma. But, if you experience extenuating circumstances or are unable to complete your high school classes, earning a GED is an available alternative.

‘GED’ stands for General Educational Development Test, although you may also hear it referred to as ‘Graduate Equivalency Degree’ and ‘General Educational Diploma’. 

Essentially, a GED is a credential you earn by passing a series of tests that indicate you have a high school level of education. 

The test has four parts that are taken at different times: 

  • Science 
  • Mathematical Reasoning 
  • Social Studies
  • Reasoning through Language Arts 

 There are significant benefits to earning your GED, including: 

  • You can attend a trade school like MTI
  • You can enroll in the majority of colleges 
  • You can open the door to more career opportunities

What is the Difference Between GED and High School Diploma? 

A high school diploma demonstrates that you have developed a high-school level of education. Although most states and federal programs recognize high school diplomas and GEDs to be equivalent, there are several key differences when it comes to receiving a GED vs high school diploma, including future education and earnings.

  • Reports from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that GED certificate holders experienced lower earnings versus those who earned a traditional high school diploma regardless of sex, race and ethnicity or age. 
  • U.S. Census Bureau data also reported that high school diploma holders earned roughly $4,700 per month on average versus GED holders who earned roughly $3,100 per month–that’s $1,600 more!
  • Historical research has shown that 85% of job success stems from possessing well developed soft and people skills. Possessing these skills is important because employers may prefer employees who are comfortable working with people, which is something individuals are frequently more exposed to when earning a traditional high school diploma. 

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Is GED the Same as a High School Diploma?

The short answer, no. Although a GED functions similarly to a high school diploma, a high school diploma is widely regarded as a more valuable credential. 

When comparing GED versus high school diploma

  • Many of the same educational opportunities are available to both
  • Many of the same career opportunities are available to both
  • The best option between a GED and high school diploma often depends on one’s personal circumstances, not necessarily their career goals

Overall, earning your GED certificate is much better than having no high school diploma or GED certificate at all. The U.S. Census Bureau reports those with some high school had mean earnings of about $2,400 a month, and those with only an elementary school education earned an average of about $2,100. In contrast, high school diploma holders earned roughly $4,700 per month on average versus GED holders who earned roughly $3,100 per month.

How Can You Earn a High School Diploma?

Are you interested in earning your high school diploma? At Midwest Technical Institute (MTI) we offer the Penn Foster Program  for people interested in earning their high school diploma and continuing their education. 

MTI will connect you with a  Student Success Specialist to discuss your career goals and assist you in creating a plan for your success. 

Upon successful completion of the Penn Foster program, you’ll receive your high school diploma and you will be eligible to enroll in your program of choice at MTI. MTI will continue to support you every step of the way, from orientation through graduation day. 

Start Your Path Toward a Career in the Skilled Trades

MTI can help you explore your career path options and the benefits of learning a skilled trade, such as medical assisting, dental assisting, HVAC/R, welding, pipefitting, truck driving, and more! If you’re interested in earning your high school diploma through the Penn Foster Program and learning more about MTI, get more information!