As a college senior preparing to graduate with a BS in Computer Science, I can tell you from experience that it is all about "The Skillz".
I've studied hard in college, made deans list every semester and consider myself a great programmer amongst my peers. However, I did an internship as a software engineer this past summer. I realized very fast that I had much to learn, Version Control, Methodology(Agile, Scrum, etc.), Build Tools, all things I had to pick up and learn, didn't see one bit of it at university.
The reason I mention all of this is because I know if I had never done that internship I would have been laughably behind when applying for jobs, my major was hardly a matter in the issue. I don't want to say however that pursuing higher education is bad, it has plenty of merits as far as displaying work ethics and a legitimate interest in the field, I did gain a strong knowledge of conventions while at university and lots of programming practice. (I never coded before college)
So to answer your question, I would tell you what I did. I began to teach myself, I "Learned how to learn", and as a result of this I was able to get a job offer from the company I interned for!
It definitely wasn't just because I had a BS in Computer Science though, but because I had developed the skills
So, my vote goes to skills, skills = higher pay.
Here is a list of things I have started doing:
- Personal projects
- Studying code bases from open source projects
- Making contributions to Stack Overflow B)
- Sharing knowledge with colleges
- Expanding my knowledge of tools and languages as much as possible. (I've come to find however that it is impossible to know everything, but knowing what things do and when to use them is really what you need.)
Hope this helped :)