What to Know About the GED Diploma

What to Know About the GED Diploma

By Nalea J. Ko

Published on August 31, 2021

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Earning a GED diploma (sometimes referred to as a GED certificate) can lead to a higher salary compared to having no high school education credential at all. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who hold either a high school or GED diploma made a median annual salary of $39,070 in 2020, while those without either of these credentials made $27,510 a year.

Since the GED program began in 1942, more than 20 million people have earned a GED diploma. These graduates work in all sectors, including sales, entertainment, and science.

Read on to learn more about what you can do with a GED diploma.

What Can You Do With a GED Diploma?

The U.S. Department of Defense and American Council on Education developed the GED program during World War II. Young men were being drafted to fight overseas before they could complete high school.

States award students a GED diploma after they pass the GED test. The earned certificate recognizes that GED diploma-holders have completed the equivalent of a high school education. The test covers four subjects — math, language arts, science, and social studies — and takes about 7.5 hours to complete.

The GED certificate typically offers similar opportunities as a high school diploma. GED diploma-holders can apply to college, including community colleges and four-year universities, or other training programs.

Other GED diploma-holders choose to immediately enter the workforce. Earning a GED certificate can help graduates land jobs in a variety of fields, including administration, community and social services, healthcare, sales, and transportation.

Can You Go to College With a GED Diploma?

GED certificate-holders can go on to earn undergraduate and advanced degrees. GED diploma-holders may choose to go to a community college to earn an in-demand associate degree, or they may apply directly to a four-year school.

Most U.S. colleges, including Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale, accept an applicant's GED certificate, just as they do a high school diploma. GED diploma-holders can apply as first-year applicants or transfer students if they've already earned some college credits. Keep in mind, however, that college application processes can vary depending on the school.

Colleges want to know that applicants can successfully complete an advanced education. Some schools and competitive programs, such as programs that prepare students for nursing careers, require you to have a minimum GED test score or some prior college credit.

Other institutions require applicants who hold a GED diploma to take additional placement tests. Additionally, a small percentage of schools do not accept the GED diploma at all.

What Colleges Accept the GED Diploma?

Nearly 98% of U.S. colleges accept the GED certificate, according to the GED Testing Service. This includes community colleges, vocational schools, private universities, and public universities. College students can study online or in person after earning a GED certificate.

Each school and program has its own admission requirements. Applicants should do research to see what requirements and supplemental materials they need to apply. Placement tests, for example, could be a requirement.

Most public and private schools accept first-year and transfer students who hold GED certificates. Once accepted, students can prepare for careers after college.

Frequently Asked Questions About the GED Diploma

Can I earn my GED diploma online? true

Yes. Since May 2020, students have been able to take the Online Proctored GED Test. The test is taken remotely under the supervision of an online proctor. Online testing remains available since the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many in-person testing sites. Among the requirements to qualify for an online test, applicants must live in participating states and earn a "Green" score after completing a GED practice test.

Is it bad to get a GED diploma instead of a high school diploma? true

For different reasons, many of today's students have dealt with interruptions in their education. A GED diploma is equivalent to a high school diploma. It offers more opportunities than not having a diploma at all. Although many colleges and employers accept the GED certificate, some may prefer a high school diploma.

Is a GED diploma harder to get than a high school diploma? true

The GED test covers four subjects and takes about 7.5 hours. In comparison, it takes four years of study to complete a high school diploma. GED test-takers must earn certain scores in each subject to earn their diploma. High scores on the GED test may also help test-takers get a waiver from college placement tests or qualify for college credit.

Feature Image: Rana Faure / The Image Bank / Getty Images

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