This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(STACKER) — The value of traditional education can vary widely across the country. While a college degree has long been viewed as a critical step toward the American dream, growing costs have led many students to reconsider the return-on-investment of higher education. Meanwhile, local economies and individual circumstances can push others toward learning a trade or entering the workforce early.

These considerations aside, national statistics show a clear difference in earnings as they relate to educational attainment, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

To help understand areas with the lowest educational attainment, Stacker compiled a list of the least educated counties in California using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the lowest percent of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Ties are broken by the highest percent with less than a high school diploma.

Keep reading on for a look at the least-educated counties in California.

Hollywood // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Orange County

– 40.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 14.5% ($24,638 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 17.2% ($31,824)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 27.6% ($42,420)
– Bachelor’s degree: 26% ($64,948)
– Graduate or professional degree: 14.5% ($91,962)

Doug Olson // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Placer County

– 39.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 5.5% ($27,107 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 18% ($38,016)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 36.8% ($46,217)
– Bachelor’s degree: 26.4% ($74,676)
– Graduate or professional degree: 13.3% ($91,924)

SD Dirk // Flickr

#48. San Diego County

– 38.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 12.6% ($23,608 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 18.2% ($31,615)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.4% ($38,816)
– Bachelor’s degree: 23.8% ($61,990)
– Graduate or professional degree: 15% ($85,114)

Frank Schulenburg // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Nevada County

– 37.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 5.7% ($25,436 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 18.4% ($33,148)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 38.8% ($34,876)
– Bachelor’s degree: 24.2% ($47,185)
– Graduate or professional degree: 13% ($70,566)

Stan Shebs // Wikicommons

#46. Napa County

– 35.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 14.5% ($26,691 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 17.8% ($34,418)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32% ($44,616)
– Bachelor’s degree: 23.2% ($64,997)
– Graduate or professional degree: 12.5% ($83,228)

Matt314 // Wikicommons

#45. Sonoma County

– 35.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 11.2% ($27,020 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 18.7% ($34,010)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.6% ($42,390)
– Bachelor’s degree: 22.2% ($57,266)
– Graduate or professional degree: 13.3% ($71,176)

Basar // Wikicommons

#44. San Luis Obispo County

– 35.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 8.7% ($26,267 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 19.9% ($32,376)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 36% ($40,697)
– Bachelor’s degree: 21.9% ($55,690)
– Graduate or professional degree: 13.4% ($72,271)

Susan Popielaski // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Alpine County

– 34.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 8.8%
– High school graduate: 28.1% ($36,250)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 28.6% ($24,091)
– Bachelor’s degree: 21.2% ($26,500)
– Graduate or professional degree: 13.4% ($41,607)

DimiTalen // Wikimedia Commons

#42. El Dorado County

– 34.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 6.6% ($26,359 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 21.3% ($35,614)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 37.9% ($43,874)
– Bachelor’s degree: 22.6% ($67,004)
– Graduate or professional degree: 11.7% ($86,003)

Pixabay

#41. Santa Barbara County

– 34.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.1% ($23,766 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 17.8% ($31,386)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29% ($39,455)
– Bachelor’s degree: 20.2% ($59,895)
– Graduate or professional degree: 14% ($79,017)

Canva

#40. Ventura County

– 33.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 15% ($23,475 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 19.2% ($32,179)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.1% ($42,848)
– Bachelor’s degree: 21.3% ($63,967)
– Graduate or professional degree: 12.5% ($87,565)

BDS2006 // Wikimedia

#39. Los Angeles County

– 32.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 20.9% ($22,765 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 20.6% ($30,414)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 26% ($37,642)
– Bachelor’s degree: 21.2% ($57,016)
– Graduate or professional degree: 11.3% ($81,014)

Canva

#38. Sacramento County

– 30.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 12.3% ($24,334 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 22.4% ($31,634)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.5% ($39,206)
– Bachelor’s degree: 20.4% ($59,404)
– Graduate or professional degree: 10.4% ($80,370)

Cory Maylett // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Humboldt County

– 30.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 9.6% ($24,053 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 22.2% ($27,711)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 37.9% ($30,551)
– Bachelor’s degree: 20.3% ($37,894)
– Graduate or professional degree: 10.1% ($57,386)

clr_flickr from Rocklin, USA // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Mono County

– 28.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 11.5% ($21,236 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 24.2% ($31,400)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 35.5% ($36,907)
– Bachelor’s degree: 21% ($44,546)
– Graduate or professional degree: 7.8% ($50,714)

Canva

#35. Butte County

– 27.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 10.7% ($25,128 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 22.5% ($29,274)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 39.6% ($31,245)
– Bachelor’s degree: 18% ($52,405)
– Graduate or professional degree: 9.2% ($68,784)

Chuck Abbe // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Inyo County

– 27.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 11.5% ($26,563 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 28.6% ($31,589)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.8% ($34,743)
– Bachelor’s degree: 16.7% ($52,803)
– Graduate or professional degree: 10.5% ($71,682)

Canva

#33. Solano County

– 26.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 11.6% ($27,130 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 23.8% ($38,251)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 37.7% ($45,586)
– Bachelor’s degree: 18.6% ($62,573)
– Graduate or professional degree: 8.3% ($80,063)

Naotake Murayama // Wikicommons

#32. Monterey County

– 24.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 28.5% ($22,311 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 20.3% ($31,107)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.5% ($37,640)
– Bachelor’s degree: 14.8% ($57,550)
– Graduate or professional degree: 9.9% ($81,640)

EPoelzl // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Mariposa County

– 24.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 9.4% ($26,842 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 24.4% ($28,152)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 41.6% ($28,787)
– Bachelor’s degree: 15.9% ($43,750)
– Graduate or professional degree: 8.6% ($47,791)

Binksternet // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Mendocino County

– 24.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 13.5% ($22,044 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 25% ($30,638)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 37% ($30,906)
– Bachelor’s degree: 15.6% ($35,429)
– Graduate or professional degree: 8.8% ($50,820)

Kenneth Green // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Plumas County

– 23.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 4.9% ($17,639 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 26.1% ($31,694)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 45.4% ($40,082)
– Bachelor’s degree: 14.8% ($45,795)
– Graduate or professional degree: 8.9% ($58,594)

Chmee2 // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Siskiyou County

– 23.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 9.8% ($19,384 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 25.5% ($28,646)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 41.6% ($28,491)
– Bachelor’s degree: 15.3% ($39,399)
– Graduate or professional degree: 7.8% ($54,320)

Daniel Orth // Flickr

#27. Riverside County

– 22.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 17.9% ($25,027 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 26.9% ($32,022)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.9% ($39,294)
– Bachelor’s degree: 14.2% ($54,710)
– Graduate or professional degree: 8.1% ($80,929)

Doug Kerr // Wikicommons

#26. Shasta County

– 22.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 8.9% ($25,108 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 25.4% ($31,070)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 43.5% ($32,588)
– Bachelor’s degree: 14.8% ($49,795)
– Graduate or professional degree: 7.4% ($64,519)

David Jordan // Wikicommons

#25. Fresno County

– 21.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 24% ($20,197 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 22.7% ($28,743)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.1% ($34,388)
– Bachelor’s degree: 14% ($53,798)
– Graduate or professional degree: 7.1% ($78,501)

Canva

#24. San Bernardino County

– 21% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 20.1% ($24,816 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 26.3% ($31,587)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.7% ($37,961)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13.6% ($54,341)
– Graduate or professional degree: 7.4% ($75,361)

Bobak Ha’Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Tuolumne County

– 20.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 9.3% ($21,261 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 28.3% ($31,311)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 41.9% ($37,240)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13.2% ($54,034)
– Graduate or professional degree: 7.3% ($76,901)

Michael Patrick // Wikimedia Commons

#22. San Benito County

– 19.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.5% ($26,340 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 24.8% ($36,580)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 36% ($43,796)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13.6% ($64,555)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($85,484)

Almonroth // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Trinity County

– 19.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($15,987 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 34.8% ($25,668)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 38% ($31,173)
– Bachelor’s degree: 14.3% ($36,111)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($26,563)

Bobak Ha’Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Amador County

– 19.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 10% ($25,893 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 27.5% ($36,402)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 43.3% ($41,289)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13.1% ($41,010)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($80,794)

LPS.1 // Wikicommons

#19. San Joaquin County

– 18.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 20.7% ($26,030 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 28.3% ($33,788)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.2% ($42,267)
– Bachelor’s degree: 12.9% ($57,875)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.9% ($79,262)

Canva

#18. Calaveras County

– 18.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 9.8% ($31,784 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 28% ($29,484)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 43.8% ($40,736)
– Bachelor’s degree: 12.2% ($62,581)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($70,706)

Ray Bouknight // Wikicommons

#17. Sutter County

– 18.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 21.8% ($20,687 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 23.3% ($30,854)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 36.6% ($37,319)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.9% ($53,344)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.3% ($72,292)

35 / 50Canva

#16. Sierra County

– 17.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 7.7% ($18,636 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31.7% ($21,705)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 42.8% ($32,950)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.5% ($44,700)
– Graduate or professional degree: 9.5% ($44,405)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Yuba County

– 17.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 17.7% ($24,301 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 23.6% ($35,894)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 41.7% ($38,216)
– Bachelor’s degree: 12.2% ($49,502)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($71,103)

Public Domain

#14. Stanislaus County

– 17.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 21.1% ($26,090 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 29.3% ($32,874)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.5% ($39,203)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.8% ($62,524)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($84,366)

nickchapman // Wikicommons

#13. Kern County

– 16.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 26% ($21,727 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 27.8% ($30,312)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.9% ($37,109)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11% ($61,227)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($82,063)

Frank Schulenburg // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Tehama County

– 15.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 15.5% ($25,099 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 30.1% ($30,434)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 38.8% ($29,459)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.1% ($46,196)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($64,219)

CFang // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Lake County

– 15.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 14.2% ($22,483 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 30.5% ($26,312)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 39.8% ($30,727)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10% ($54,861)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($52,500)

Scott Burley // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Modoc County

– 15.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 15.2% ($25,806 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33% ($27,168)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 36.6% ($31,786)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.5% ($46,944)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.7%

Cbl62 // Wikicommons

#9. Imperial County

– 15.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 30.3% ($17,025 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 24.3% ($26,626)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.2% ($31,468)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.6% ($43,476)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($72,366)

CleanWater17 // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Colusa County

– 15% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 28.8% ($26,989 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 26.2% ($33,563)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.1% ($35,378)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.1% ($51,335)
– Graduate or professional degree: 3.9% ($53,214)

Canva

#7. Del Norte County

– 14.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 20% ($19,977 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31% ($24,694)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.2% ($31,822)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.7% ($47,813)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.1% ($72,672)

Armona // Wikicommons

#6. Kings County

– 14.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 26.6% ($22,391 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 25.3% ($31,838)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33.4% ($37,542)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.1% ($56,425)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($76,636)

Public Domain

#5. Madera County

– 14.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 28.1% ($20,699 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 24.9% ($30,326)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.5% ($32,311)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.2% ($57,130)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($64,677)

Canva

#4. Tulare County

– 14.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 29.2% ($19,465 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 25.5% ($29,455)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.7% ($33,501)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.8% ($54,785)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($78,869)

Trance addict // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Glenn County

– 14.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 25.2% ($26,102 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 27.2% ($26,932)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33.4% ($27,166)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.9% ($54,487)
– Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($62,396)

Mark Miller // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Merced County

– 13.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 30.9% ($25,806 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 25.3% ($30,403)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.1% ($34,530)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.1% ($53,728)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($66,366)50 / 50Finetooth // Wikimedia Commons

Getty Images

#1. Lassen County

– 12.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 16.9% ($30,448 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 34.5% ($40,233)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 35.8% ($42,236)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.2% ($49,327)
– Graduate or professional degree: 3.7% ($62,500)