The do's and don'ts of tapping your personal network for business

Susan Ricker,

Friends and family are usually happy to help out with a child's fundraiser or sponsor your 5K charity run, but when business proposals come up, you may be left with a smaller group of open minds. If you have a job that can benefit from generating new leads or adding business, what are some simple do's and don'ts to keep in mind when approaching your personal network?
Elene Cafasso is founder and president of Enerpace Inc. Executive and Personal Coaching. Here, she suggests a few rules of thumb to those who are interested in expanding business to their personal network and how to do so professionally and with tact.
DO ask for referrals
You can strategically use your network when expanding your business, simply by asking who could benefit from your services. "Ask for referrals gently," Cafasso says. "'Who do you know who needs what I do?' For instance, a financial advisor could ask, 'Who do you know who has changed jobs or left an employer recently?' Then ask for an introduction so you can help them rollover their 401K instead of leaving it someplace they've left behind."
DON'T assume they know about your experience
You may be an old family friend or an ex-classmate, but that may not necessarily validate you as a professional. Prove your skills by providing an overview of your services. "A benefit of asking for referrals is that your connection may realize they could use you themselves," Cafasso says. "And/or, you could offer a complimentary trial or sample of your services, so they'll feel more comfortable and be more knowledgeable when referring you."
DO be accessible
You're likely to appear much more legitimate, as well as organized, if you have supporting materials and resources available. "Make it easy for folks to help you, refer you, do business with you -- provide cards, flyers, literature, etc. that they can share with others," Cafasso says. Not only will they have a summary of your services and information, but if your personal network doesn't immediately commit to your pitch, you can still leave them with your information to review.
DON'T push too hard
Not only is it essential to understand your relationships before you talk business with those in your personal network, but it's also important to monitor these relationships as you introduce business. "Keep your antennae up -- if you feel your connection is uncomfortable, change the subject immediately or address it by backing off and stating that you don't want them to feel pressured or obligated in any way," Cafasso says. You may simply not be the right provider for them, or perhaps they'd like some time to consider the partnership.
DO share why you're the best business decision
Your friends and family will likely want to help you, but it's important to convey why you're a smart business decision as well. "Be sure to also share why you are in this business and what makes you unique from all the other folks out there doing the same thing," Cafasso says. Share your qualifications, your perspective on your services and what sets you apart from the competition.
DON'T come across as desperate
"Most importantly, make sure you have a thorough business plan and ample savings to support you and your family for at least six months or until you anticipate the business being able to support you," Cafasso says. "If you are financially desperate, you will put the sale over the relationship, which you'll most likely regret long term. Folks can tell when people are desperate and needy -- that's not the kind of person they feel comfortable referring or doing business with themselves."
Pitching business to your personal connections can be a smart step if you remain professional, offer exceptional service and keep your relationship in mind. However, just as you won't make every sale you attempt, not every personal connection will be interested in expanding the relationship to include business. The key to being a savvy professional instead of a sketchy friend is to be courteous and prepared.

High-pay careers that make college worth it

High-paying careers

Research shows that a college degree still pays, despite the cost. Learn about six careers with great rewards that require a college education.

By Lia Sestric
Sure, college debt isn't something that anyone wants to have. But no matter how tough it is to swallow, you shouldn't forfeit a post-secondary education.
"Unless a person is interested in working in, say, a non-managerial position in construction, auto tech, or sales, (he or) she needs a college degree," says Eddie LaMeire, a college admissions consultant and a former college admissions counselor. "With a college degree, you'll just be more employable, which largely explains why the unemployment rate for college grads is about half of the rate for those who stopped their education with a high school diploma."
Those who have more than a diploma to their name also make considerably more in pay, as shown in The College Board's report "Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society."
This report reveals that "during a 40-year full-time working life, the median earnings of bachelor's degree recipients without an advanced degree are 65 percent higher than the median earnings of high school graduates." Associate-degree holders make 27 percent more, and those with some college but no degree earn 13 percent more, according to the report.
Of course, there's no promise of higher earnings if you further your education, but this can certainly put the odds in your favor. So to put things in perspective, we've detailed six careers with a median salary of $60K or more that require either an associate's or a bachelor's degree. Keep reading to learn more.

Career #1: Financial Analyst

annual wage*
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Top 10 percent of earners
Needless to say by looking at the dollar figures, a career as a financial analyst may pay off big, but it will require a college education.
What do financial analysts do exactly? They might evaluate and provide guidance to businesses or individuals with making investment decisions, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Why College Is Needed For Preparation: Associate professor J. Douglas Wellington at Husson University says there are a few main reasons: "First, students learn higher-level mathematical concepts such as present value, beta, and duration, which are used in financial analysis," he says, which are things a student might learn in a finance program.
"Second, students are introduced to various financial instruments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, options, and futures contracts, which are the types of investments that a financial analyst will recommend to clients."
Wellington also says students learn how to read and analyze financial statements and develop strong communication skills, as well as a foundation in ethics.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says these professionals typically must have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as accounting, business administration, finance, economics, or statistics. A master's degree in finance or an MBA is required for advanced positions, the Department notes.

Career #2: Dental Hygienist

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The potential earnings for a dental hygienist aren't too shabby - especially if you factor in that it may only take as little as a two-year investment.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a dental hygienist may clean teeth, examine patients for oral disease, and provide preventative dental care. Promoting good oral hygiene is also part of the job.
Why College Is Needed For Preparation: "Dental hygienists need to understand the human body almost instinctively," says LaMeire. "Just because the job is restricted to oral hygiene doesn't necessarily mean that the position demands less education."
In fact, Emily Kissane, a policy analyst at Hobsons, points out that education is very critical to training dental hygienists how to use specialized tools that are part of the job. A dental hygiene program also helps develop a student's diagnostic skills, she adds.
Click to Find the Right Dental Assisting Program.
Education Options: An associate's degree in dental hygiene is typically required to enter the profession, says the Department of Labor. Every state requires a dental hygienist to be licensed.

Career #3: Accountant

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If you're good with numbers, you might want to consider pursuing a career as an accountant. But you'll need to head to college first to prepare for this type of career.
Accountants might be responsible for checking financial reports for accuracy, as well as making sure taxes are paid on time and properly, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Why College Is Needed For Preparation: "Accountants track and analyze financial records and must have in-depth knowledge of accounting practices that vary from the private to public to non-profit sectors," says Kissane, who acknowledges that this ability comes through higher education.
Furthermore, she says accountants must learn about the regulatory and business environments in which they operate, which one will gain through courses like business law, for example.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
Education Options: A bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is required for most accountant positions, says the Department of Labor. It also notes that some employers prefer to hire a job candidate who has a master's degree in either accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Career #4: Registered Nurse

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Bottom 10 percent of earners
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A career as a registered nurse could provide more than reasonable pay - whether you take two years or four years to get there.
As a registered nurse, one might assist with the care of patients, as well as provide emotional support to the patient and family members, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Why College Is Needed For Preparation: "I would say that higher education is more of a necessity today in preparation for work as an RN," says Mary Jude, assistant professor at Husson University's School of Nursing. "The field is highly technical [and] requires considerable critical-thinking [and] problem-solving skills."
LaMeire agrees. "Nurses serve as proxies for doctors in innumerable situations. They need an instinctive understanding of human biology, biochemistry, and drug interactions," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.
Education Options:There are three ways to prepare to pursue a career as a nurse says the Department of Labor. One can pursue a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Registered nurses must also have a nursing license, the Department notes.

Career #5: Medical and Health Services Manager

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If you haven't heard already, health care is booming. And as a result, there's potential for great pay as a health services manager. Best of all, it may take only a few years of study to prepare to pursue this career.
Health services managers essentially run the show, so medical professionals can focus on the care of patients. The U.S. Department of Labor says they coordinate and direct medical and health services.
Why College Is Needed For Preparation: "Health services managers lead complex organizations like rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and nursing homes," says Kissane, who notes proper preparation for the career comes from higher education. "While in college, students learn about topics specific to the health field, health care ethics, law, and economics - and develop administrative skills," she says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.
Education Options: "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," says the Department of Labor. Master's degrees are also common in the fields of health services, public health, pubic administration, long-term care administration, and business administration.

Career #6: Construction Manager

annual wage*
Bottom 10 percent of earners
Top 10 percent of earners
Ever wonder who built the bridge you crossed? The simple answer would be a construction manager. And the first step in preparing for the pursuit of this career would be to enroll in a related college degree program.
Construction managers coordinate and supervise a variety of projects from start to finish, says the U.S. Department of Labor. These projects might include residential, commercial, roads, bridges, or even a school or hospital.
Why College Is Needed For Preparation: "Construction managers need to learn about the technical aspects of construction as well as topics like building codes and safety management," says Kissane. She says valuable knowledge is gained from specialty courses like commercial construction methods.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Construction Management Program.
Education Options:The combination of an associate's degree and work experience may be enough for some positions, says the Department of Labor. While this is true, a bachelor's degree in construction science, construction management, architecture, or engineering is growing in importance as construction projects become more complex.

Seven top careers in 2014

Seven Top Careers in 2014

These seven careers are really heating up in 2014 and beyond.

By Terence Loose
Is your career fizzling out rather than heating up? Has it got you looking for a career with a bright - and growing - future to replace it? Well, despite what you might think, finding the careers that will be hot next year, and beyond, isn't pure guesswork.
That's why we asked experts where the jobs would be in 2014 and beyond in a broad range of industries. Then we cross-referenced that information with the U.S. Department of Labor statistics on growth projections from 2010 to 2020.
So read on for seven exciting careers that have a bright future in 2014 and beyond.

Hot Career #1: Public Relations Specialist

Projected Growth 2010-2020: 23%*
If Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter hasn't driven home the fact that marketing and public relations (PR) is going to be supremely important in the future, maybe you need a smarter smart phone. And one career that will be key for companies in the future is PR specialist.
"In the fast-paced, all-access world of social media, the difference between a record quarter and a bad one for a company can come down to good or bad public relations. So they will be in high demand," says Phil Dunn, president of Synapse Services Co, a web technologies and marketing company.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.
That's because, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, PR specialists help their clients communicate effectively with the public (can you say Tweet?) and shape and maintain their clients' public images.
Education Options: Public relations specialists usually need a bachelor's degree, says the Department of Labor. They add that employers typically want applicants who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Hot Career #2: Database Administrator

Projected Growth 2010-2020: 31%*
Two words explain why this career will be hot in the future: Big Data. Big Data refers to the enormous amount of information that companies have been collecting from customers and the public regarding buying habits, demographics, product trends - you name it.
"Big Data will be the focus for the next decade," says Charley Polachi, a partner with Polachi Access Executive Search and someone who's been finding talent for top tech firms for 30 years. Businesses need skilled computer specialists such as database administrators to organize and secure the immense amount of data they've been collecting so they can analyze it and profit from it, he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right IT and Information Systems Program.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, database administrators do everything from organize and store data to ensure its availability to authorized users, while keeping it secure from unauthorized ones.
Education Options: These professionals usually have a bachelor's degree in an information- or computer-related subject, says the Department of Labor.

Hot Career #3: Petroleum Engineer

Projected Growth 2010-2020: 17%*
Someday we may figure out how to move away from oil and gas and move toward other, cleaner energy sources. But that's not going to be 2014, or anytime soon after that. So petroleum engineers will be in demand in the foreseeable future, says Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and writer of's Guide to Human Resources.
"If you're a petroleum engineer, your starting salary says it all: often, it's around $90,000. This is one career that is hot now, and will be for a while," says Heathfield. She says that's because of simple market forces: The population is growing, more fuel is needed, and fossil fuel reserves are being depleted. That means these engineers will be needed to figure out ways to locate and extract a diminishing resource.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.
Just as Heathfield said, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, petroleum engineers develop ways to extract oil and gas from buried deposits, or find new ways to tap old wells.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says petroleum engineers are required to have a bachelor's degree in engineering, preferably in petroleum engineering.

Hot Career #4: Software Developer

Projected Growth 2010-2020: 30%*
If you haven't noticed, it's a bold new world out there, one in which technology and computer software play an increasingly important role. And one in which software developers are more and more important. But don't take our word for it.
"Computer technology has changed every sector of society. Many people now carry in their cell phone a computational device that serves as a communications center, Internet access point, entertainment system, and more," says Hal Stern, dean of University of California, Irvine's Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences. That's why, he says, tech experts such as software developers will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
Software developers analyze users' needs and then design, test, and develop computer programs and applications to meet those needs, says the U.S. Department of Labor. To do this, they might collaborate with other software developers or programmers.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says software developers typically have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Math degrees are also acceptable.

Hot Career #5: Medical and Health Services Manager

Projected Growth 2010-2020: 22%*
Despite the computer glitches and the partisan divide associated with the Affordable Care Act, one thing is for certain, says Heathfield: The health care industry is a job creator. And it's also one that has to be managed, she says.
"No matter what happens with Obamacare, most Americans agree that we have to reform health care, and that means management. So I think health care administration will be a very good field for growth and jobs," says Heathfield.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.
Health services managers, also called health care executives or administrators, strive to improve the efficiency and quality of medical services, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They add that these professionals might manage entire facilities, or specialize in certain areas of health care.
Education Options: The Department f Labor says health services managers usually need at least a bachelor's degree in health administration. Master's degrees are also common in fields such as health services, business administration, public health, public administration, or long-term care administration.

Hot Career #6: Elementary School Teacher

Projected Growth 2010-2020: 17%*
Sure, we could have a vote tomorrow that repeals the mandate that all children need to get at least an elementary education. But, frankly, that's as likely as kids craving spinach. But that's just one reason the job of elementary school teacher is a good bet to be in demand.
"Other reasons are the fact that this happens to be one of the 'oldest' workforces, so a lot of retirements will open up many positions," says Heathfield. She adds that enrollment is predicted to increase, meaning more students, and consequently, more teachers will be needed.
Next step: Click to Find the Right K-12 Education Program.
Elementary school teachers prepare the next generation for their academic life by teaching them basic concepts such as math and reading, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They add that these teachers also mentor students in building social skills and developing study skills.
Education Options: Every state requires elementary school teachers to hold a bachelor's degree in elementary education, and certification, if they want to teach in the public school system, says the Department of Labor. And although the private school system does not require these, the Department says private schools usually seek candidates with a bachelor's degree in elementary education as well.

Hot Career #7: Personal Financial Advisor

Projected Growth 2010-2020: 32%*
Let's face it: If you're like most people, a big part of your day, week, even life, is taken up by managing money. So it's no wonder that when it comes to the big financial decisions - retirement, kids' college education savings, insurance needs - people often turn to personal financial advisors.
"Like so many industries, the aging baby boomers will really drive the demand for people like financial personal advisors," says Heathfield. She says that because this large segment of our population is entering retirement or planning for their coming retirement, personal financial advisors will be very busy.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
The U.S. Department of Labor says personal financial advisors help people make important financial decisions regarding investments, taxes, insurance. They meet with and educate their clients on these financial instruments and help them plan for things such as retirement and other big life events, says the Department of Labor.
Education Options: The Department says that personal financial advisors usually need a bachelor's degree. And though employers usually don't specify a major, finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, or law are good preparation for this career, says the Department.

7 major players in free online education

Hottest Free Online Courses

Will the rise of massive open online courses change the face of education?

By Jennifer Berry
Imagine a world where free, college-level education was available to almost everyone. Believe it or not, you're living in that world right now.
Online education has been around for decades, but in the past couple of years, interest has spiked for massive open online courses, otherwise known as MOOCs, according to Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, an education technology company that created the Canvas Network, a  platform for open online courses.
"Since 2012, MOOCs have caught the attention of the educational world due to their potential to disrupt how education is delivered and open up access to anyone with an Internet connection," Whitmer explains.
If this seems too good to be true, you should know that, like many endeavors, students will largely get out of these classes what they put into them. Also, there are a number of organizations that currently offer MOOCs, each with its own personality, history, and course offerings. So we spoke to education technology experts about the providers at the forefront of MOOC development.
Read on to learn more about seven of the most popular MOOCs and some of the great free classes they offer.


If you've heard of MOOCs, chances are you've heard of Coursera. This education company was created by Stanford professors involved with one of the earliest massive open online classes. How did it all begin?
"Stanford University opened up some of their more popular computer science courses to the general public, expecting a few hundred students to enroll. Instead over 100,000 students took part in each course," says Jonathan Haber, a writer and researcher who has worked in the field of educational technology.
According to Haber, this huge enrollment demonstrated pent-up demand for high-quality, free college-level classes. In response, "professors involved with this original Stanford project created two start-up companies - Udacity and Coursera - and began delivering MOOCs on different subjects to the world," says Haber.
"Coursera is probably the best overall MOOC provider," explains Hamish Brocklebank, co-CEO of, an online education platform that seeks to provide free education to a global audience. "They have a huge corpus of content, lots of users, and lots of money."
They also have an impressive 9.5 million students enrolled, up from 4 million last year, according to Brocklebank.
In February of 2013, Coursera announced that the American Council on Education had evaluated and recommended college credit for five courses on Coursera. That means you could theoretically take these five courses for free and earn college credit.
In order to earn college credit, students need to sign up for an eligible course in the ?signature track,? which links coursework in Coursera to a student's identity. Then students need to take an online proctored credit exam. Upon successfully completing a course, students may request a transcript from ACE, which they can then present to their college or university for consideration for college credit.
Standout Free Classes:
The five courses approved for college credit recommendation include:
  • "Pre-Calculus" from the University of California, Irvine offers a solid foundation in algebra and trigonometry.
  • "Introduction to Genetics and Evolution" from Duke University gives a basic overview of some principles behind fundamental areas of biology.
  • "Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach" from Duke University teaches students how to think about electrically active tissue in terms of individual mechanisms.
  • "Calculus: Single Variable" from the University of Pennsylvania covers the core ideas of single-variable calculus with emphases on conceptual understanding and applications.
  • "Algebra" from the University of California, Irvine emphasizes understanding the properties of linear, polynomial rational and radical functions.


Another MOOC provider with a great reputation, edX currently offers 85 courses that range from "International Human Rights" to "Fundamentals of Neuroscience."
"edX is very popular as well," Brocklebank says. "It's a not-for-profit school that offers mostly video-based courses."
According to Haber, edX has the second largest number of participants (after Coursera) of the three major MOOC providers, delivering completely packaged MOOC courses from schools like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley.
Standout Free Classes:
  • "Central Challenges of American National Security, Strategy and the Press: An Introduction" is based on one of the most popular, and dynamic, courses taught at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
  • "Classical Mechanics" is taught by the renowned Professor Walter Lewin who was proclaimed "a Web Star" by The New York Times.
  • "Learning From Data" is an introductory course in machine learning (ML) - one of the hottest fields of study today.


Udacity is the other MOOC provider that was founded by Stanford professors involved with that first open computer science course.
Brocklebank, who has himself personally enrolled in two Udacity courses, believes that "Udacity has the best and most interactive courses." The only drawback? "They have a limited number of courses available."
Currently, Udacity has 28 courses available on its website. But while they might not have the breadth of course offerings of some other MOOC providers, their mission statement speaks to a commitment to interactive learning.
According to their website, Udacity believes that "education should be less passive listening (no long lectures) and more active doing. Education should empower students to succeed not just in school but in life."
Standout Free Classes:
  • "The Design Of Everyday Things" is a series of courses intended to be enjoyable and informative for designers and non-designers alike.
  • "How To Build A Startup" is a course designed to help students evolve their startup business models and improve their chances of success.
  • "HTML5 Game Development" helps students understand how to develop an HTML5 game.


Udemy is slightly different from the MOOC providers we've already discussed.
For one thing, Udemy offers some classes for free but charges for others. Additionally, the courses offered aren't always academic in nature. For example, Udemy offers courses on cake decorating, reading body language, and even juggling.
"Udemy is hard to peg," says Haber. "It offers access to thousands of online courses, although some would not consider these MOOCs, since they often lack many course components such as a syllabus."
One more thing makes Udemy stand out from other MOOC providers. "Anyone can publish their own course and charge whatever they like for it or give it away," Haber says. Because of this, you'll see a wide variety of knowledge delivered with various levels of quality.
Standout Free Classes:
  • "Astronomy: State of the Art" is an astronomy for beginners course taught by instructors from Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona.
  • "Build. Measure. Learn. Lean Startup SXSW 2012" teaches lean startup methodology from startup founders and experts.
  • "Photoshop Training: Tutorials" features more than 90 free video lessons, showing you tips, tricks, and techniques in Photoshop and other design programs.

6 Most Popular Degrees to Earn Online

Online education is becoming more and more common and encompasses many different types of programs, including MOOCs. But there are also educational institutions that grant degrees, from associate's to master's, with all the coursework conducted online. While these programs aren't free, they offer convenience and flexibility for working professionals or busy parents who want to earn a degree on their own time.
With an increasing number of choices in online education, it may be helpful to know which online degree programs are the most popular. The report "Online College Students" by Learning House, an organization that helps colleges develop online programs, and Education Dynamics, a company that helps colleges enroll and retain students, discovered which online undergraduate degrees were trending in 2013.

#1 - Business Administration and Management

Business administration was ranked as the top online undergraduate degree program. Students who study this major learn how to orchestrate an organization's activities, notes the College Board, the organization which administers the SAT. Potential courses could include operations management, economics, and accounting.

#2 - Accounting

Number-crunching is also a popular area of online study. As an accounting major, you could learn to organize and analyze an organization's financial information, according to the College Board. Typical courses include auditing, business law, and tax accounting.

#3 - Information Technology

In an information technology program, you'll learn how information and computing systems support research, communications, and business necessities, while developing strong technical and communication skills, says the College Board. You could take classes such as web technologies, systems analysis and design, and C++ programming.

#4 - Criminal Justice

If you choose this online degree, you'll learn every aspect of crime, the law, and the justice system. Typical coursework includes criminology, statistics, and policing society, notes the College Board.

#5 - Finance

Another number-oriented degree makes the list. Finance majors learn how to make long-term financial decisions for organizations, from raising funds to controlling costs. You could take courses such as financial markets and institutions, investments, and international finance, according to the College Board.

#6 - Psychology

This fascinating degree rounds out our list of top online programs. Psychology majors study human behavior and the learning process, notes the College Board. As for courses, you could take perception and sensation, social psychology, and personality.

Canvas Network

Canvas Network is another MOOC provider that offers some courses for free and charges for others. While they do charge for many courses, they are undertaking some interesting experiments that might spark some students' interests.
"Many players in the MOOC space have done little experimentation and can be seen more as taking the existing lecture model of education and moving it online," explains Whitmer. "With Canvas Network, we are pushing boundaries in multiple directions, trying to see what sticks and what improves education."
This makes sense, considering the internet's recent impact on education. "The Internet is a relatively new medium for instruction," Whitmer says. "We should be looking for ways to leverage the power of that medium rather than decrying the fact that old approaches don't necessarily work well in the new medium."
One of the more interesting educational experiments Canvas Network is now undertaking is a cross-disciplinary course called "Society, Science, Survival: Lessons From AMC's 'The Walking Dead.'" This course involved a formal partnership with AMC to use the popular series as a case study to teach a range of topics, from understanding social structures to modeling the spread of disease.
Standout Free Classes:
  • "Gender Through Comic Books" looks at gender attitudes over time with comic books serving as the text.
  • "Exploring Engineering" is one of the first MOOCs targeted specifically at pre-college students and offered by Brown University to help high schoolers learn about opportunities in STEM fields.
  • "Sustainable Energy Innovation" offers students a $5,000 incentive to create a workable innovation for energy and sustainability.

iTunes U

Unlike the MOOCs mentioned above, iTunes U offers video lectures rather than interactive courses. Although it has a different format than other open online courses, iTunes U is still an important online education provider.
According to Whitmer, "iTunes U is really in a separate category because students view pre-taped lectures on their own as opposed to taking a MOOC with potentially thousands of people from around the world at the same time."
In other words, iTunes U doesn't provide an online replica of a university class in the same way MOOCs offered by Coursera, Udacity, or edX might. You might watch lectures from iTunes U, but there won't be the same level of interaction that you'd get with a traditional class, like homework, peer discussions, or exams.
Because of that, some educational experts - like Brocklebank - feel that iTunes U is very limited.
However, iTunes U could be great for someone interested in absorbing knowledge without the pressure of homework or tests. And, according to Haber, even though "iTunes just provides audio and video lectures of existing college courses, this is a popular service."
Standout Free Classes:
  • "Calculus One" by The Ohio State University is an introduction to calculus, suitable for someone who has never seen the subject before or for someone who wants to review and practice applying concepts.
  • "Exploring the Past" by National Geographic Live allows students to join scientists and historians in the search for clues on how people can adapt to a changing world.
  • "Personal Finance" explores how individual choices directly influence occupational goals and future earnings potential. presents another model of what online education can be, one based around curated courses. A "curated course" means the class might include lectures by a different professor or expert for each lesson. Instead of being anchored by one professor, this curated course model provides students with the opportunity to get a variety of experts' opinions on the class topic.
If you're wondering how this works - Saylor gathers excellent content for their courses by using a Creative Commons license. That license gives them permission from copyright holders to use their information, according to Shiv Gaglani, co-author of "Success with Science" and co-founder and CEO of Osmosis, a new app for medical students that sends practice questions and resources through text.
So what is the advantage of a curated course model? "[Saylor] can very quickly put courses together as they don't have to create the content," says Brocklebank. "The downside, though, is that at the moment it is not very social or interactive. Apart from a basic course discussion, there is no way to interact with other students." However, depending on the student, this might not be a problem.
Haber is currently taking a class from and has this to say: "While I've had trouble in the past with courses lacking a focal point, such as a single lecturer who anchors the course, it has been interesting to be taught week after week by experts in a particular subject." He adds that a curated course is valuable because the experts were selected by someone already familiar with the material and who has taught this subject previously.
Standout Free Classes:
  • "Corporate Communications" aims to help you understand how communication forms a part of your self-concept, solves problems, and builds your career.
  • "Introduction to Western Political Thought" intends to offer a critical perspective on our times by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of various regimes and philosophical approaches.
  • "Business Law & Ethics" is an introduction to the laws and ethical standards that managers must abide by in the course of conducting business. Also, this course provides students the opportunity to earn actual college credit.

Valuable college degrees that are worthwhile

6 Degrees That Pay Off

College tuition is skyrocketing,  but these six worthwhile degrees have high payback potential.

By Lia Sestric
Before you finalize that degree choice, stop and ask, what value does it hold? You just may thank yourself later.
With college tuition and student debt skyrocketing, a student should be aware of a degree's payback potential, says Sharon Gilbert, a career coach and author of "Beyond Tuition: Career Coaching Your College Kid."
"Making an informed decision includes considering the starting salary, earning potential, hot skill sets, and the employment demand of a given major to determine the best return on investment," she says.
If you're looking for a good return on your investment, check out the following six degrees. They could prepare you to pursue careers that have a median salary of at least $50K, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Degree #1: Health Care Administration

You know there's potential for a healthy salary when health care continues to be ranked among one of the fastest-growing professions. So why not capitalize on this demand and study health care administration?
Why It Pays: The value of this degree boils down to the overall health care surge, says Gilbert. "More nurses and physicians will be needed to care for an aging U.S. population. Consequently, more health care administrators will be needed to manage the increasing number of health care professionals and facilities.
Furthermore, Gilbert says a bachelor's in health care administration is a good investment because it could prepare you to pursue many lucrative career opportunities. "It can prepare you for a wide range of entry-level positions in the health care industry, including care coordinator, account manager, practice administrator, billing administrator, service coordinator, case manager, and even entry-level supervisory roles," she says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.
What You May Learn: The U.S. Department of Labor says a bachelor's program may prepare students for higher level management jobs. What courses might you take as a student? Human resources management, long-term care and aging, and health care law are all possibilities, says the College Board, an organization that promotes higher education.
Potential Career*: Health Services Manager
Median Annual Salary: $88,580*
Top 10 Percent of Earners: $150,560*
Bottom 10 Percent of Earners: $53,940*

Degree #2: Computer Science

If you are looking to reboot your career and upgrade your pay, you should consider studying computer science. That's assuming you are interested in learning the ins and outs of computers - and potentially profiting from that knowledge.
Why It Pays: The ability to write computer programming code is a highly desired skill set, and few people have it, according to Stuart Mease, director of undergraduate career services at Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business.
"Without question a CS degree would open up limitless job opportunities and significantly increase one's compensation," he says. Plus, a computer science degree enables one to be eligible for countless private sector jobs working on government contracts, as well as public sector jobs working directly for the federal government, explains Mease.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
What You May Learn: A computer science program will provide students with hands-on experience in some of the tasks they may do on the job, says the U.S. Department of Labor. These tasks may include writing code and debugging programs. And how do classes in digital system design, artificial intelligence, and software engineering sound? This is just a sampling of the courses you may take, says the College Board.
Plus, by successfully completing a computer science program, you may find yourself in a better position for a job and pay, notes Mease.
Potential Career*: Computer Programmer
Median Annual Salary: $74,280*
Top 10 Percent of Earners: $117,890*
Bottom 10 Percent of Earners: $42,850*

Degree #3: Criminal Justice

Are you ready to serve with the men and women in blue? Pursuing a degree in criminal justice could prepare you for a career as a law enforcement officer, with payback potential that's not too shabby.
Why It Pays: Public safety is a major concern in today's society, says Gilbert, and because of that criminal justice could prepare you for many career paths (that are lucrative too!). Unlike other fields, Gilbert says there is one driving force for higher pay. "Many criminal justice salaries depend upon a risk factor. Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Police officers have one of the highest rates of on-the-job injuries and fatalities."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.
What You May Learn: Students learn about the legal system, theories of crime, and public policy. They also learn how to manage a budget and staff, says Gilbert. According to the College Board, courses might include policing society, the U.S. criminal-justice system, and juvenile justice. The College Board also notes that the degree might be offered at the associate's and bachelor's level.
Potential Career*: Police Officer
Median Annual Salary: $55,270*
Top 10 Percent of Earners: $89,310*
Bottom 10 Percent of Earners: $32,350*

Degree #4: Dental Hygiene

Who says you have to be the dentist to make a generous salary? If you aren't too fond about extra schooling to work in the dental field, perhaps this will make you grin from ear to ear. You could earn an associate's degree in dental hygiene, which could have solid payback potential.
Why It Pays: In addition to coursework, a degree in dental hygiene gives students essential hands-on experience and valuable communication and interpersonal skills, notes Gilbert.
"Since dental hygienists sometimes perform the majority of work on patients done during  check-ups," says Gilbert, "they need to be current on the latest best practices, be well versed in the science and medical knowledge behind dental hygiene, and have exceptional manual dexterity skills to use a variety of dental instruments."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program.
What You May Learn: The College Board says a student will train to care for tooth decay, diseases, and other injuries to the mouth. Some common courses may include dental anatomy, preventative dentistry, and dental materials.
Potential Career*: Dental Hygienist
Median Annual Salary: $70,210*
Top 10 Percent of Earners: $96,280*
Bottom 10 Percent of Earners: $46,540*

Degree #5: Accounting

Are you known for your critical eye? If you don't mind working with numbers, you may want to keep your eye on an accounting program. After completing this degree, you may just find yourself in a profitable career.
Why It Pays: "A degree in accounting is valued in the labor market because in successfully completing an accounting degree, students emerge with a balance of technical skills, an understanding of sources and uses of information, as well as a heightened critical-thinking and problem-solving ability," says Greg Sommers, director of the master of science in accounting program at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
What You May Learn: An accounting student could learn how to gather, record, and analyze data about an organization's or individual's financial performance, says the College Board. Does tax accounting, business law, and auditing sound up your alley? Those are some of the courses you might take in this major, according to the College Board.
Potential Career*: Accountant
Median Annual Salary: $63,550*
Top 10 Percent of Earners: $111,510*
Bottom 10 Percent of Earners: $39,930*

Degree #6: Information Technology

Do you consider yourself multitalented with strong points in business and computer science? An information technology program may be a perfect match for you. Plus, it may set you up for a career with pay that won't disappoint.
Why It Pays: "[An] information technology degree offers individuals a formidable level of depth of key IT skills such as analytics, database mining, introduction to programming languages, and above average Excel skills," says Mease. "What we have seen is that students who possess this type of technical knowledge coupled with softer skills in business acumen make them a valuable linchpin in organizations connecting business and technical functions, especially in a team format."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Information Technology Program.
What You May Learn: In an information technology (IT) program, you'll learn how information and computing systems support business and communication needs, says the College Board. Be ready to hone your technical and communication skills through the program as well. Courses may include introduction to computer science, database management systems, and web technologies.
Potential Career*: Database Administrator
Median Annual Salary: $77,080*
Top 10 Percent of Earners: $118,720*
Bottom 10 Percent of Earners: $42,930*

The hottest fields of the next decade and beyond

The Hottest Fields

Wondering where the jobs will be in coming years? These industries will be the next big thing from 2018-2025.

By Terence Loose
If you're thinking of going back to school to help you find a new, more lucrative, and in-demand career when you graduate, it might be a good idea to know where market demand will be in the coming decade.
That was the idea behind the recent study "Where the Hot Jobs Will Be 2018-2025" by the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Their study, released in September 2013, highlighted about a dozen fields that will be heating up during those years. These are fields that any prospective college student should know about.
So we interviewed the company's CEO, John Challenger, matched some of his predictions with the authoritative U.S. Department of Labor statistics, and came up with valuable information on the most in-demand fields for the near future.

Field #1: Big Data

Big Data is the term used to describe the enormous amount of data that companies are accumulating thanks to advanced computer technology, says Challenger. They've been collecting information on customer and population habits, trends, preferences, and other key subjects for a decade or more, he says.
Now it's time to cash in, but that takes experts such as database administrators. These techies manage companies' databases, ensuring data is organized and ready to use, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They might do things like merge old databases into new ones, create custom databases to meet company needs, and test modifications, says the Department.
"The vast amount of big data has to be organized, sorted, and managed. That's where the skills of a database administrator come in, and they are and will be in high demand," says Challenger.
Next step: Click to Find the Right IT and Information Systems Program.
Projected Growth 2010 to 2020:* 31 percent
Median Annual Salary:** $77,080. The top 10 percent of database administrators makes $118,720, while the lowest 10 percent makes $42,930.
Education Requirements: Most database administrators have a bachelor's degree in management information systems or a computer-related field, says the Department of Labor.

Field #2: Physical Therapy

With an aging population thanks to the baby boomer generation retiring and wanting to stay active well into their golden years, Challenger says the field of physical therapy will be in great demand. The baby boomers, along with people of all ages, will need these professionals to help them recover after everything from sports injuries to medical procedures, he says.
That's why one career he predicts as in-demand in the future is physical therapy assistant. Working under the guidance of a physical therapist, physical therapy assistants help patients recovering from injuries, illnesses, and surgeries to regain movement and manage pain, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
The personal nature of the job is what will make it hot in the future, says Challenger, as it is least likely to be replaced by technology or moved offshore. "People need people to help them with their injuries, and they have to be hands-on," he adds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Physical Therapy Assistant Program.
Projected Growth 2010 to 2020:* 46 percent
Median Annual Salary:** $52,160. The top 10 percent of physical therapy assistants makes $72,720, while the lowest 10 percent makes $32,420.
Education Requirements: Most states require physical therapy assistants to complete an associate's degree from an accredited physical therapist program, says the Department of Labor.

Field #3: Medical Technicians

Medical technicians offer an answer to cutting down costs and freeing up doctors and nurses to spend more time with patients, says Challenger. These health care professionals often run sophisticated diagnostic machines to complete MRIs, ultrasounds, and echocardiograms instead of using more invasive equipment.
One growing medical technician career is diagnostic medical sonographer. These medical technicians use sensitive imaging equipment that directs sound waves into patients' bodies to assess and diagnose various medical conditions, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
"These are not simple, easy-to-use machines," says Challenger. "As technology grows more complex we need more people who are trained in using [them]." He adds that these machines will only be used more frequently as technology advances, which will drive demand for these technicians.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program.
Projected Growth 2010 to 2020:* 44 percent
Median Annual Salary:** $65,860. The top 10 percent of diagnostic medical sonographers makes $91,070, while the lowest 10 percent makes $44,990.
Education Requirements: The U.S. Department of Labor says that diagnostic medical sonographers need either an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate. Many employers also require candidates to have professional certification.

Field #4: Teachers

Because the teaching workforce is one of the nation's oldest in terms of age, says Challenger, there will be many openings due to retirement over the next decade. This will add to the job growth in this area and put certain positions in education in demand.
One such career is elementary school teacher. We all know how important good elementary teachers are for the development of young minds. As the U.S. Department of Labor says, these educators prepare young students for their academic career by teaching them the basics, like math and reading. As professions go, that's pretty noble.
"We're always going to need elementary school teachers, so they will not only be in demand, but they will never be off-shored or replaced by machines," says Challenger. "It's local, and it's personal. That's why teachers will be in demand for a long time," he adds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right K-12 Education Program.
Projected Growth 2010 to 2020:* 17 percent
Median Annual Salary:** $53,400. The top 10 percent of elementary school teachers makes $83,160, while the lowest 10 percent makes $35,630.
Education Requirements: Every state requires public elementary school teachers to have a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a license, says the Department of Labor. Private school teachers do not have the same requirements, but the Department says that most private schools seek teachers with a bachelor's in elementary education.

Field #5: Sales & Marketing

Here's a fact that every entrepreneur knows: You could have the greatest product since the iPhone, but if you don't have a team able to get it noticed by the right consumers, you may as well have invented a new buggy whip. Sales and marketing are crucial now and are only getting more important with the proliferation of social media, says Challenger.
So he says one career vital to businesses in the future will be market research analyst. These professionals study market data to inform companies about what products customers want and how much they'll pay for them, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Companies are collecting a lot of information on customer habits, and that's where these professionals step in, explains Challenger. "In addition to managing the data, analyzing it is vital to making better business decisions. That's why market research analysts will be in demand," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.
Projected Growth 2010 to 2020:* 41 percent
Median Annual Salary:** $60,300. The top 10 percent of market research analysts makes $113,500, while the lowest 10 percent makes $33,280.
Education Requirements: The Department of Labor says that market research analysts usually need a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field. Many people in these positions have degrees in statistics, computer science, or math, while others have a background in business administration, communications, or one of the social sciences, notes the Department.

Field #6: Research and Development

In business, there's a saying: If you're not moving forward, you're dying. And the way you move forward, says Challenger, is through research and development. But because of advancing technology, he says product development will not only be more important than ever but is already moving faster than ever.
So, he says one among many in-demand R&D careers for the future is mechanical engineer. These are the pros who research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical devices, such as tools, engines, and machines, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They develop and test prototypes and oversee manufacturing as well.
"With technology and development advancing so fast, bringing on scientists and engineers - like mechanical engineers - to design new products is crucial to long-term company survival. Companies invest in their future through their R&D people, and that will only be more important in the future," says Challenger.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.
Projected Growth 2010 to 2020:* 9 percent
Median Annual Salary:** $80,580. The top 10 percent of mechanical engineers makes $121,530, while the lowest 10 percent makes $52,030.
Education Requirements: The Department of Labor says that nearly all mechanical engineering positions require a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

The 7 hottest jobs for young adults

Hot Jobs For Young Adults

Wondering which post-grad jobs could help you launch your career? We found fast-growing, high-pay jobs perfect for young adults.

By Andrea Duchon
If it seems like it's taking longer for workers to reach a decent wage than ever before, that's because it is. According to a recent study conducted by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce titled "Failure to Launch: Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation," it took longer for young adults to reach the median wage in 2012 than it did in 1980. In fact, the average age at which professionals reach the median wage has shifted from 26 to 30.
That doesn't mean that all up-and-coming employees these days will be forced to move back in with Mom and Dad. In fact, the same study says that from 2012 to 2021, 14 million jobs will be created as older workers begin to retire.
So before you give up hope for a promising career, check out the list below of seven high-paying, fast-growing careers for young adults.

Career #1: Information Security Analyst

Projected Growth Rate from 2010 - 2020
+22 percent*
Annual Salary
With everything moving into the digital realm, it only makes sense that digital crime would also grow. Does the idea of helping protect companies against cyber attacks sound interesting to you? Then you should consider the growing - and well-paid - field of information security.
Why It's Hot: With much of our lives and our economy online, we need a safe and secure cyber world, says Timothy J. Sweeney, assistant dean of the College of Science and Technology at Bellevue University.
"Unfortunately, the risk and reality of unauthorized access and use of our information are higher than ever," Sweeney says. "In order to combat [that], we must have trained and experienced cyber-security professionals who can defend our critical infrastructure and technologies."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
Education Requirements: Most information security analysts usually need a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field like computer science or programming, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They also say that employers of analysts sometimes prefer applicants with an MBA (Master of Business Administration) in information systems.

Career #2: Personal Financial Advisor

Projected Growth Rate from 2010 - 2020
+32 percent*
Annual Salary
Are you the person that all of your friends turn to for financial advice? You could get your feet wet in the professional world by turning your passion for problem-solving and investment into a high-profile career as a personal financial advisor.
Why It's Hot: The high growth for this career is largely connected to the increase in retiring workers who are looking to manage their finances, says Amina Yamusah, co-founder of Breaking.It.Down, an online resource offering career and college advice geared toward black students pursuing higher education.
Additionally, with the recent recession and other economic woes, more and more people are paying attention to their finances than ever before, says Cathy Mueller, executive director at Mapping Your Future, a public service nonprofit organization providing college, career, and financial aid information.
But before you make the jump, Mueller also cautions that this field can be extremely competitive, so you should be prepared to work hard if you want to pursue this career.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
Education Requirements: The U.S. Department of Labor says you'll typically need a bachelor's degree to pursue a career as a personal financial advisor. While employers usually don't require a specific field of study, a degree in finance, economics, accounting, business, math, or law is good prep, according to the Department of Labor. Certification and a master's degree could improve chances for advancement in this career.

Career #3: Marketing Manager

Projected Growth Rate from 2010 - 2020
+14 percent*
Annual Salary
If you're looking to flex your creative side but don't want to spend your 20s as a starving artist, take a look at a career as a marketing manager. Even though you may need to get some work experience under your belt before you take hold of this title, the time and effort spent pursuing this career could really pay off.
Why It's Hot:  "As organizations look to reach new customers and new social media apps pop up, they're relying more heavily on creative marketers who will embrace new technology," explains Yamusah. "With this transition comes a ton of new opportunities for recent grads who have grown up in the Internet age to find strong career opportunities in marketing."
But in order to take advantage of this job opportunity, candidates may first need to gain years of work experience since marketing manager is not an entry-level position. Fortunately, there could be a worthwhile career waiting for those willing to put in the work.
According to Mueller, the opportunity to pursue this career is only growing, along with the demand for social media and technological skills. She adds that this rapidly changing field needs strategic and creative thinkers.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Program.
Education Requirements: A bachelor's degree is required for most marketing management positions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Managers typically have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales. The Department of Labor adds that coursework in subjects like business law, management, accounting, finance, economics, math, and statistics are advantageous.

Career #4: Software Developer, Applications

Projected Growth Rate from 2010 - 2020
+28 percent*
Annual Salary
Earlier we spoke about keeping organizations and their networks safe on the web, but what about the actual building of computer programs? If you're more interested in creating applications rather than keeping them secure, a career as a software developer could be the perfect fit for you as you enter the job market.
Why It's Hot: As companies look to create interactive experiences for their customers, they are looking for employees with the tech skills to make software that increases efficiency, says Yamusah. "For example, it is more cost-effective for a company to hire someone who can design and manage an interactive customer experience online via software, rather than paying numerous customer-service representatives to handle customer needs via phone or email."
"With highly publicized conversations about the shortage of workers with strong developing skills, the opportunities for recent graduates include great pay and perks," she adds.
Sweeney says that as we roll into the future, the reality that software and computers profoundly impact our lives will continue to become more apparent. "With this ever increasing dependence on computers and the software that runs them or runs on them, the demand for people to develop new and better software will continue to increase."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
Education Requirements: Usually, software developers have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Math degrees are also acceptable and software developers typically must have strong computer programming skills.

Career #5: Medical and Health Services Manager

Projected Growth Rate from 2010 - 2020
+22 percent*
Annual Salary
Maybe you've always wanted to make a difference in the medical field, but you don't want to pursue the path of doctor or nurse. A career as a medical and health services manager could allow you to straddle the patient-administration divide, put money in your bank account, and offer you a stable career path.
Why It's Hot: Medical and health services managers will be in demand more than ever with the new health care laws coming into effect, says Provitera.
Yamusah agrees: "One phrase: Affordable Care Act. With millions of new entries into the health care system, health organizations will need growing numbers of managers to ensure high quality care at affordable rates."
So why is this job great for young adults?
Recent graduates can find medical manager opportunities all over the country, says Yamusah. "Combine that with great pay and a fulfilling mission, and you have a pretty great job."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.
Education Requirements: "Prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health administration," says the U.S. Department of Labor, though master's degrees in health services, public health, public administration, long-term care administration, or business administration are also common.

Career #6: Industrial Organizational Psychologist

Projected Growth Rate from 2010 - 2020
+35 percent*
Annual Salary
Perhaps you have a passion for improving the lives of those around you. If you'd like to make helping people part of your job, you may want to consider a career as an industrial organizational psychologist. These professionals use psychological principles to solve problems and improve the quality of work life, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. By pursuing this career path, they say you could affect everything from workplace productivity to policy planning.
Why It's Hot: Industrial organizational psychologists are in demand as companies seek to downsize, train, and most importantly, deal with ever-changing and demanding rules and regulations, notes Provitera.
"If a student is interested in a psychology degree but doesn't necessarily want to pursue a doctorate, this type of position may be a good fit," says Mueller.
Some of the reasons that this career is great for young adults: Great pay, the opportunity to help companies grow and make progressive changes in their workplace, and a large amount of responsibility regarding company strategies, according to Yamusah.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Psychology Program.
Education Requirements: Those with a master's degree in psychology could work as an industrial-organizational psychologist, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Practicing psychologists or those workers using the title of "psychologist" are required to have a license or certification from the state.

Career #7: Art Director

Projected Growth Rate from 2010 - 2020
+9 percent*
Annual Salary
For creative types, a career as an art director could allow them the freedom to create art day after day, while at the same time, giving you a steady paycheck and reliable job. Along with a creative team, the U.S. Department of Labor says that art directors conceptualize and create the visual style for magazines, newspapers, movie and television productions, and product packaging. That also means you probably won't be able to snag this title without at least a few years out in the field. Still, a career as an art director is a great goal for young career seekers.
Why It's Hot: First of all, the job title of "art director" is not a one-size-fits-all moniker, says Donna Hewlett, program director of the master's of fine arts program in creativity at Bellevue University.
"That's because art directors can work for motion picture and video industries, newspapers, advertising, public relations, or specialized design services, just to name a few options. It is precisely this diversity that appeals to young adults who have grown up in a media-rich environment," she adds.
While art director is a great career to which to aspire, it's important to remember that this position may take years of work experience to reach and is by no means an entry-level job. According to Mueller, an art director needs a combination of creative expertise, strong leadership, and team-building skills along with the on-time delivery of products, and could command a good salary and sustain regular business.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Arts and Design Program.
Education Requirements: The U.S. Department of Labor says that art directors need at least a bachelor's degree in art or design subject, paired with previous work experience. In fact, many of these professionals may start out as graphic designers, illustrators, copyeditors, or photographers, or in another art or design occupation.

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