Students in online degree programs don’t just want the convenience of home learning; they want to know that their education will allow them to compete for some of the most valuable positions in the work force in terms of salary, stability, and more. In the early days of distance learning and online education, it was often up for debate whether an online degree program could provide a student with those kinds of possibilities. But thanks to the growing number of degrees available online, that’s no longer a concern. Students are now able to pursue degrees in online in almost all of the top-earning industries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest earning degrees are in medicine in law, which are unfortunately difficult to obtain via an online degree program. (The American Bar Association currently does not approve any online programs that offer law degrees.) However, many of the top earning degrees are available through accredited online degree programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that through 2012, the fastest-growing occupations will be medical assistants, network systems and data communication analysts, and social and human service assistants, all fields of study offered via many online degree programs. The Wall Street Journal lists the average salary for a physician’s assistant around $74,000, which is a healthy return on the investment for the degree. A recent survey by PayScale also revealed that, perhaps unsurprisingly, jobs in the engineering field offer large salaries and more stability amid an economy that’s shifting its focus to building for the future. Computer and electrical engineers, both positions requiring degrees that can be earned online, have a median starting salary close to $60,000. If you’re interested in these fields or more, be sure to research an online degree program to see if it offers an education in your chosen area.
Also, there’s a hidden value to online degree programs that some students forget to consider: reputation. If your school isn’t accredited and recognized as a worthy institution, no amount of cajoling will be able to persuade an employer to take a risk on an unproven applicant. It’s the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting a great job and obtaining a valuable online degree. Without it, you won’t get very far, but with it, you’ll be able to compete with the best from more traditional schools.