New analysis from the California Community Colleges shows students who take just a few courses can earn higher salaries.
Chancellor Brice Harris says the study looked specifically at students who enroll to improve job skills, not complete certificates.
"These tend to be older students, who are usually fully employed. We find on average they gained about $4,500 in compensation, as a result of completing those courses," says Harris.
The study analyzed the salaries of 86,000 students who took classes during the 2012 to 2013 academic year.
Harris says the students previously were counted with others who dropped out before earning a degree or transferring to a four-year college.
The community college system plans to incorporate the new measurement into future publications.