The best online college degrees to help you get a job
Education pays. That’s not just conventional wisdom; it’s borne out by the facts, including this gem: Workers who had at least a bachelor’s degree earned $932 more per week in 2018 than the median earnings of all workers.
The earning potential and the ease of finding a job does vary considerably, of course, even for those with college degrees. It typically depends on supply and demand: Jobs with fewer applicants and high demand pay more. Jobs with many applicants and low demand pay less. If you are considering online college degrees and want to know which career paths offer the best job opportunities, you’ve come to the right place. Here are three fields with superior pay and job opportunities — and, importantly, available online degree programs — in the coming years:
Computer and Information Technology
Jobs in the computer and information technology occupations are expected to grow 12 percent between 2018 and 2028, which is must faster than the average for all occupations combined, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for cloud computing, machine learning, the collection and storage of big data and information security is driving the expected growth of 546,200 new jobs. Annual wages in these occupations, $88,240 in 2019, are more than double the average wages for all occupations. Here are some specialties to consider:
- Information Technology. With an information technology degree, you’ll be prepared to help organizations manage their computer networks, implement and maintain IT applications and systems, program the systems, work with networking technologies, handle databases, develop websites and design computer programs. A web developer may only need an associate’s degree, but the median pay was nearly $74,000 last year. Computer and information research scientists with master’s degrees earned median pay of $122,840 in 2019.
- Software development. The bulk of the new Computer and IT jobs through 2028, according to the BLS, will be in software development. In fact, the number of jobs is predicted to grow by 21 percent through 2028. The average pay for a software developer with a bachelor’s degree was $107,510 last year.
- Cybersecurity. With cyberthreats growing daily, this is one specialty that is expected to explode in terms of job opportunities. The BLS expects employment to grow by nearly a third. The average pay is excellent, too. An information security analyst, who helps an organization keep its data and computer system secure, made $99,730 on average last year. A bachelor’s degree is considered the standard.
- Nursing. Registered nurses are the backbone of our health care system, working in hospitals, doctor’s offices, home health and hospice agencies, and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living centers. They also work in schools and in corporate settings. The number of registered nursing jobs is expected to grow by 12 percent through 2028, outpacing the growth in jobs overall. Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the general public about health conditions. While one can become a registered nurse with an associate’s degree, it’s increasingly common for employers to expect their RNs to have bachelor’s degrees. Registered nurses must also pass licensure requirements in the states where they practice. The median pay for a registered nurse in 2019 was $73,300.
- Healthcare administration. The number of jobs in medical and health services management is expected to grow by 18 percent through 2028, making it an especially attractive career. What’s the job? To plan and manage the business activities of a healthcare provider like a hospital or clinic. Many people move into health administration from other jobs in healthcare — nursing or human resources, for instance. These jobs paid $100,980, on average in 2019. Entry level positions require a bachelor’s degree, typically, but those wishing to advance often go for master’s degrees in health administration, sometimes with an emphasis on informatics or long-term care.
The beauty of a business degree is its versatility. Whether you emphasize sales, marketing, human resources or finance in your degree program, a business degree opens doors in pretty much every industry — and many career paths within each company or non-profit. Let’s take a look at a few of the best options today:
- Accounting. Jobs for accountants are expected to grow at an average pace — 6 percent — but the beauty of an accounting degree is that you can find work in almost any city or town. What do accountants do? They prepare and examine financial records, so if you are detail oriented and like working with figures, this might be a career path to consider. Most accountants have a bachelor’s degree, and they often get certified as public accountants to improve their job prospects. Accountants made $71,550 on average last year.
- Management or administration. Degrees in business management or administration prepare you to manage a business or department, and give you a rounded education that touches on everything from sales to communication, project management to economics. These degrees give you options as you explore various career paths, and prepare you to solve business problems, use business concepts to help your organization grow, bring departments together to collaborate and adapt to changes in the business environment. Many colleges allow you to emphasize a certain specialty. The demand for managers and administrators varies by industry, but the overall job growth is expected to be slightly above average. Management occupations paid $105,660, on average, in 2019. A bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum qualification, and most people pursuing these jobs also opt for master’s degrees in business or business administration.