(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 North Carolina 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 high school diploma.

Keep reading on for a look at the 50 least-educated counties in North Carolina.

50. Wilson County

– 19.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.7% ($20,982 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31.5% ($28,544)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.2% ($31,764)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13.9% ($44,891)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($58,042)

49. Cherokee County

– 19% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 12.8% ($22,218 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.8% ($25,216)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.3% ($30,957)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11% ($41,363)
– Graduate or professional degree: 8.1% ($56,172)

48. Wayne County

– 19% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 15.5% ($20,051 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 30.5% ($28,683)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.9% ($31,778)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13% ($42,468)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($52,806)

47. Pamlico County

– 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 12% ($22,321 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31% ($30,995)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 38.4% ($31,290)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.7% ($39,327)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.9% ($44,453)

46. Rowan County

– 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 14.4% ($23,760 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.6% ($31,286)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.5% ($33,641)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13.1% ($44,297)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($52,176)

45. Davidson County

– 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 16.1% ($25,634 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.8% ($31,132)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.6% ($35,767)
– Bachelor’s degree: 13.3% ($47,289)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($52,292)

44. Swain County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 20.2% ($20,188 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 30.6% ($26,020)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 31% ($27,006)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.8% ($50,990)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.4% ($55,313)

43. Surry County

– 18% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 20.5% ($25,200 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 28.9% ($29,726)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.6% ($32,435)
– Bachelor’s degree: 12.2% ($46,988)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($48,333)

42. Rutherford County

– 17.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($25,264 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.5% ($28,148)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33.5% ($30,746)
– Bachelor’s degree: 12.2% ($43,250)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($55,227)

41. Hoke County

– 17.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 12.9% ($19,221 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 28.7% ($26,982)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 40.7% ($36,370)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.9% ($47,411)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($56,190)

40. Cleveland County

– 17.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 15.8% ($24,521 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 34.4% ($26,946)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.2% ($31,252)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.9% ($44,008)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.7% ($49,922)

39. McDowell County

– 17.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 16.1% ($22,261 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.4% ($31,749)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34% ($33,121)
– Bachelor’s degree: 12% ($45,678)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($52,531)

38. Stanly County

– 17.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 14.7% ($24,658 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.3% ($31,281)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.7% ($35,479)
– Bachelor’s degree: 12.5% ($45,788)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($52,487)

37. Alleghany County

– 17.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 22.6% ($18,359 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 29% ($22,943)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 31.2% ($30,121)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.4% ($40,179)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.9% ($40,764)

36. Camden County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 13.5% ($24,259 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 29.4% ($31,719)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 40% ($48,556)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.7% ($45,147)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($54,063)

35. Martin County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 16.6% ($21,265 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.9% ($24,341)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33.1% ($30,170)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.7% ($43,707)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($48,281)

34. Burke County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 18.4% ($23,050 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31.4% ($27,707)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33.8% ($30,124)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.6% ($43,147)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($52,500)

33. Caswell County

– 15.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.5% ($20,698 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.6% ($30,548)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.9% ($33,046)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11% ($49,870)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($47,563)

32. Warren County

– 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 18.5% ($22,065 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 36.7% ($25,996)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.1% ($30,874)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.5% ($41,375)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($26,797)

31. Bladen County

– 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 18.7% ($23,465 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.4% ($26,507)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.1% ($31,163)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.2% ($40,787)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($50,833)

30. Wilkes County

– 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.9% ($21,287 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31.7% ($30,344)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.6% ($31,945)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.4% ($47,430)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($52,904)

29. Randolph County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 18.5% ($23,326 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.5% ($31,041)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.3% ($35,089)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.3% ($43,824)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($51,250)

28. Richmond County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 19.1% ($17,218 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.2% ($28,161)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33% ($28,925)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.4% ($40,128)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($54,111)

27. Caldwell County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 20% ($24,283 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.5% ($29,697)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 31.7% ($30,425)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.7% ($43,378)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($50,855)

26. Montgomery County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 20.6% ($26,390 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 34.6% ($26,549)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.2% ($30,451)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.6% ($48,876)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5% ($46,683)

25. Person County

– 15.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 13.5% ($21,448 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 37.4% ($32,175)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33.5% ($39,318)
– Bachelor’s degree: 11.4% ($41,989)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($55,970)

24. Scotland County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 19.8% ($26,176 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.9% ($28,803)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.7% ($30,427)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.9% ($40,379)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($51,781)

23. Rockingham County

– 15.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 17.4% ($23,422 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 34.9% ($28,371)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.8% ($33,626)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.3% ($45,771)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($53,704)

22. Hertford County

– 14.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.3% ($23,158 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.7% ($27,311)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 33.2% ($29,129)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.1% ($32,003)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($53,711)

21. Lenoir County

– 14.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 20.3% ($19,338 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31.9% ($26,626)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.8% ($30,463)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.1% ($41,238)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($53,060)

20. Vance County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 19.6% ($19,480 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 37% ($27,746)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 28.6% ($27,326)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.3% ($41,751)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($45,457)

19. Halifax County

– 14.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 21.4% ($16,587 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 37.2% ($25,670)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.9% ($29,084)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.7% ($40,972)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($53,516)

18. Gates County

– 14.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 10.9% ($26,250 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 37.9% ($31,898)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 36.8% ($36,717)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8% ($45,769)
– Graduate or professional degree: 6.3% ($45,395)

17. Alexander County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 17.6% ($28,321 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 38.7% ($30,685)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.5% ($32,384)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.7% ($46,763)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($54,667)

16. Stokes County

– 14.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($23,898 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 40% ($30,242)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.7% ($38,405)
– Bachelor’s degree: 10.6% ($46,578)
– Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($64,423)

15. Columbus County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 17% ($21,884 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 36.3% ($28,179)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.8% ($30,511)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.2% ($43,011)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($53,601)

14. Northampton County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 19.6% ($24,000 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 38.5% ($25,472)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 28.1% ($26,565)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.6% ($41,076)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($52,401)

13. Sampson County

– 13.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 20.7% ($22,275 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 34.2% ($28,727)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 31.4% ($29,467)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.7% ($39,801)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($53,662)

12. Robeson County

– 13.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 22.7% ($23,828 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.4% ($27,613)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.2% ($29,483)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.3% ($40,940)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($52,312)

11. Edgecombe County

– 13.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 18.8% ($20,835 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 37.5% ($27,425)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.1% ($30,305)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.4% ($41,576)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.2% ($52,589)

10. Bertie County

– 13.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 21.7% ($20,326 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 38.1% ($27,852)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.6% ($27,973)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.2% ($38,185)
– Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($34,712)

9. Graham County

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

– Less than high school diploma: 18.2% ($16,728 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 36.3% ($27,750)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.7% ($29,826)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8% ($39,596)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4.9%

8. Jones County

– 12.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 18.9% ($19,779 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 34.4% ($27,341)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.5% ($33,858)
– Bachelor’s degree: 9.1% ($41,250)
– Graduate or professional degree: 3.1% ($50,000)

7. Duplin County

– 12.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 24.1% ($18,789 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 31.8% ($26,243)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32% ($28,081)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.1% ($42,252)
– Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($42,096)

6. Yadkin County

– 11.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 17.7% ($25,510 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 33.8% ($31,304)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 36.8% ($38,250)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.9% ($45,666)
– Graduate or professional degree: 2.8% ($49,375)

5. Washington County

– 11.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 16.3% ($29,559 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 37.4% ($31,083)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 34.8% ($26,609)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.3% ($40,563)
– Graduate or professional degree: 3.2%

4. Anson County

– 11.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.3% ($21,279 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 40.2% ($30,383)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.3% ($30,751)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.1% ($46,000)
– Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($53,000)

3. Greene County

– 11% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 25% ($20,451 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 32.9% ($27,216)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 31.1% ($30,454)
– Bachelor’s degree: 8.5% ($43,046)
– Graduate or professional degree: 2.5% ($42,375)

2. Tyrrell County

– 10.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 26% ($13,617 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 36.5% ($20,357)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.9% ($32,909)
– Bachelor’s degree: 7.7% ($40,804)
– Graduate or professional degree: 2.8% ($53,000)

1. Hyde County

– 9.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher

– Less than high school diploma: 19.2% ($18,026 median earnings)
– High school graduate: 38.7% ($22,317)
– Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.9% ($32,277)
– Bachelor’s degree: 7.5% ($50,337)
– Graduate or professional degree: 1.7%