This paper analyses the relationship between education, gender and earnings in France and Germany. The model chosen here enables to estimate the impact of education not only on the expected earnings level but also on their dispersion, taking gender-specific sample selectivity into account. The results indicate that the completion of a minimum level of general instruction yields an earnings premium that cannot compensated by a vocational degree. Moreover, education affects the uncertainty of earnings. General qualifications are found to increase the earnings risk, vocational one to reduce it. More education, especially tertiary education, yields a high earnings premium but is associated with the highest earnings uncertainty. Women enjoy a higher earnings premium for education than men and though they face overall a higher earnings uncertainty, they can - more than men - reduce this risk by investing in their education.