High-paying degrees you could earn by 2016


High-pay degrees by 2016

Believe it or not, there are a variety of degrees you could earn in as little as two years that could help you land a great, high-paying job.

By Jennifer Berry
Are you gunning for a promotion or looking to make a career change? A high-paying associate's or master's degree could have you prepped and ready for a career upgrade in as little as two years.
"Associate's degrees are a wonderful way to go," says John Francis, partner at Theonera Inc., a full service human resources consulting firm. "They're practically focused, industry-focused, and a great way for an individual to transition into the work force."
Already have your bachelor's degree? Consider going back for your master's degree.
"Going back to school shows your determination to be better," says Russ Hovendick, founder of Directional Motivation, an online resource for career training and  development, and author of several career-related books. "It makes you more viable in the marketplace if you're going up against someone who doesn't have a degree, and it gives you some exposure with the industry you're hoping to align yourself with."
Want to learn more? Read on to find out about seven high-paying degrees and the careers they could help you prepare to pursue.

Degree #1: Associate's Degree in Computer Science

Find Degree Programs Ready to turn your interest in computers into a high-paying job? An associate's degree in computer science could be the perfect way to transition careers. It could take as little as two years to complete - putting you ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding the latest technology.
"When you get a degree in computer science, you're closely aligned with what's happening in the computer industry right now," says Hovendick. "It's probably not as technical as a four-year degree, but it gives you the fundamentals you'll be working from." Those fundamentals might be enough for some potential employers and could really pay off.
"High-tech companies want knowledgeable, adaptable, and quick learners," says Francis. "Employers are more concerned about what you know than where you graduated from." So the marketable skills gained through an associate's program can get you up to speed for a high-paying, entry-level job quickly.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
What You May Study: So what is a degree in computer science all about? According to the College Board, he organization that administers the SAT, some of the classes you might take include computer system organization, digital system design, mathematics for computer science, and software engineering.
Potential Career:* Computer Programmer
As a computer programmer, you might write computer programs in C++ or a variety of other computer languages, update and expand existing programs, or test programs and fix errors to make the programs run more smoothly, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Annual Salary:**
Median annual salary
$74,280
Top 10 percent
$117,890
Bottom 10 percent
$42,850

Degree #3: Master's in Health Care Administration

Find Degree Programs Managing a health care facility takes a specific set of skills, which is why it comes with such a large salary. Consider earning your master's in health care administration and in as little as two years you might be ready to manage a department or facility yourself.
According to Hovendick, a master's degree is a must for this career. "A bachelor's degree wouldn't prepare you as well for the complexities of the health care industry," he says. Earning a master's degree in health care administration could pay big dividends over time.
"Anyone who's going into this type of master's degree, which is very focused on this specialty, will have  no problem finding work," says Francis. "You'll have a job for 20 or 25 years, because the population is getting older. There's going to be demand for services, and there's the desire to make sure the costs are under control." And the demand for those specialized skills and services translates into an impressive salary.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.
What You May Study: Wondering what kinds of things you might learn? According to the College Board, some of the classes typical of this major include accounting, health care administration, health care law, human resources management, and the economics of health care.
Potential Career:* Medical and Health Services Manager
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as a medical and health services manager, you might manage finances of a health care facility, create work schedules for staff, represent the facility at investor meetings, and keep organized records of a facility's services.
Annual Salary:**
Median annual salary
$88,580
Top 10 percent
$150,560
Bottom 10 percent
$53,940

Degree #4: Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice

Find Degree Programs Are you intrigued by how criminals think? And are you ready to devote your life to stopping them? In as little as two years, you could prepare to pursue a high-paying career with an associate's degree in criminal justice.
"Being a police officer today versus 20 years ago - it's much more complicated now," says Hovendick. "There's more demand in terms of the soft skills like conflict resolution." An associate's degree can begin teaching you these valuable skills and could help you prepare to pursue this well-paid career.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.
What You May Study: Given the increasing complexity of the job, you might be wondering what kinds of things you might learn in a criminal justice program. According to the College Board, some of your courses might include policing society, criminology, the U.S. criminal-justice system, victimology, and criminal-justice research methods.
Potential Career:* Police Officer
One thing is for sure, we depend on these heroes to protect lives and property in our communities. As a police officer, you might respond to calls for service, conduct traffic stops and issue citations, arrest suspects, and testify in court when required, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Annual Salary:**
Median annual salary
$55,270
Top 10 percent
$89,310
Bottom 10 percent
$32,350

Degree #5 - Associate's Degree in Dental Hygiene

Find Degree Programs You know a nice smile takes some work - and you're ready to help others achieve it. Consider earning your associate's degree in dental hygiene, and in as little as two years you could be ready to step into a career that pays well.
"From learning about the teeth, to how to recognize health issues in a person's mouth - these programs are designed to prepare you for the job," he says.
Plus, an associate's degree gives students a chance to be at the forefront of the changing technology in this profession. According to Hovendick, "The demands of this position are changing as we're getting into precautionary, preventative, and proactive approaches." And the best part? It could only take two years to gain the necessary skills for this high-paying career.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program.
What You May Study: According to the College Board, some of your classes could include things like periodontology, radiography, dental hygiene techniques, pharmacology, and preventive dentistry.
Potential Career:* Dental Hygienist
As a dental hygienist, you might clean teeth by removing tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. You might also provide other preventative dental care like applying sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth, as well as take and develop dental X-rays.
Annual Salary:**
Median annual salary
$70,210
Top 10 percent
$96,280
Bottom 10 percent
$46,540

Degree #6 - Associate's Degree in Civil Engineering Technology

Find Degree Programs Were you the kid who loved thinking about building dams or bridges? Consider pursuing an associate's degree in civil engineering technology. In as little as two years, you could be helping civil engineers with their next big dam or bridge project - and earning a nice salary doing it.
"An associate's degree in engineering is absolutely the way to go," says Francis. "The programs are very work-focused, very practical. They're developed so when you graduate, you'll be ready for work." And with our current infrastructure, there is a lot that needs to be done - one reason this career pays so well.
"If you look at our road systems in the U.S., they're rapidly deteriorating," says Hovendick. "The demand for civil engineering and project engineering work will be higher going forward because there will be a lot of infrastructure that needs to be addressed. This is a good area to get into."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.
What You May Study: According to the College Board, you might learn the technical skills needed to help civil engineers design and build large projects. You might also learn how to analyze construction sites, use and maintain equipment, draft plans, and write reports.
Potential Career:* Civil Engineering Technician
As a civil engineer, you might help civil engineers plan and design the construction of infrastructure projects like highways, utilities, and bridges, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. You might also develop plans, estimate costs, and prepare reports on project activities and data.
Annual Salary:**
Median annual salary
$47,560
Top 10 percent
$71,800
Bottom 10 percent
$30,430

Degree #7 - Master's in Business Administration (MBA)

Find Degree Programs One of the most versatile master's degrees, an MBA could help you climb the ranks in a variety of different industries and positions. If you're looking to increase your skills, earn a promotion, or better understand the inner workings of business, consider earning your MBA in as little as two years.
"MBAs are perfect for people looking for management positions down the road," says Francis. "Companies looking for a VP or general manager almost always want an MBA." Why? Francis explains that MBAs learn big picture thinking and have a greater awareness of the interconnectivity of global commerce.
"There's a tremendous demand for MBAs," echoes Hovendick. "MBAs do a lot of case studies in school, which helps them prepare for the demands of the business world by focusing on returns on investments and understanding issues critical to business in general." That knowledge could help you move up in your career - and get a nice boost in your salary.
Next step: Click to Find the Right MBA Program.
What You May Study: You might study finance, management, accounting, organizational behavior, and economics, according to the Princeton Review.
Potential Career:* Financial Analyst
An MBA can prepare you for a variety of positions, including financial analyst. As a financial analyst, you might provide investment guidance to people and companies, study business trends, and study a company's financial statements to determine a company's value, according to the Department of Labor.
Annual Salary:**
Median annual salary
$76,950
Top 10 percent
$148,430
Bottom 10 percent
$47,130

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