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

5 low-profile careers with high-profile salaries


High-Pay, Low-Profile Jobs

These high-paying careers offer the chance to stay behind the scenes without giving up a nice paycheck.

By Margaret Rock
Being on the front lines in the corporate world isn't for everyone. For those who would prefer a high-powered career but still want to fly below the radar, there are plenty of interesting options.
And you don't have to kiss a substantial paycheck goodbye either, since several low-profile jobs come with a high-profile salary and power behind the scenes.
"Positions which have traditionally been in the background will more often be empowered to do more, because it is cost-effective," says Vicki Lynn, senior vice president of client talent strategy and employer branding at Universum, a global employer branding company.
Wondering what types of jobs are more behind-the-scenes but still offer a strong salary? Here are five careers to consider.

Career #1: Computer Programmer

Median
Annual Salary
$74,280*
Bottom 10 Percent
$42,850*
Top 10 Percent
$117,890*
Do you have a computing mindset and like to collaborate with others but don't enjoy being in the spotlight? Then computer programming is a career to check out.
Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: These professionals write code to create software programs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Working with internal personnel like software developers and engineers, computer programmers take program designs and turn them into instructions that a computer can follow.
"There is a shortage of people with this background, according to most of the companies I'm talking to," says Lynn. She describes the competition between companies for qualified programmers as "fierce." Businesses need computer programmers to create software in several different computer languages, and with qualified candidates in short supply, this career can command a high salary.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
How to Prepare: Most computer programmers have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related subject, according to the Department of Labor, but some employers hire workers with an associate's degree. The Department adds that computer programmers with specialized knowledge of certain operating systems are able to move into management positions.

Career #2: Human Resources Manager

Median
Annual Salary
$99,720
Bottom 10 Percent
$59,020
Top 10 Percent
$173,140
Like computer programming, a career as a human resources manager is another high-paying option that involves working with others in a low-profile manner.
Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative activities of an organization, consulting with top executives on strategic planning.
In the area of human resources, Lynn adds, "Manager positions are more inwardly focused, while other specialties, like recruiting, [are] more outwardly focused."
She points out that human resources managers aren't very visible in the media, but there is "hidden demand" for people with these skills. Since managers work with top executives and keep an eye on everything from attrition to building skills, this career choice translates to a higher salary, Lynn explains.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.
How to Prepare: Human resources managers need a combination of education and related work experience as well as strong interpersonal skills, notes the Department of Labor. They usually need a bachelor's in business administration or human resources, although some jobs require a master's degree in human resources, labor relations, or business administration.

Career #3: Marketing Manager

Median
Annual Salary
$119,480
Bottom 10 Percent
$62,650
Top 10 Percent
$187,199+
Marketing manager is a career choice that attempts to bring consumer attention to a company's products or services, but these professionals are still able to work away from the front lines.
Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: Marketing managers plan and direct programs to garner interest in a service or product, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They identify potential customers and trends and help develop pricing strategies with the goal of maximizing the firm's profits or share of the market.
According to Lynn, there is variation among salaries for marketing managers and specialization can boost income expectations.
"Every company is looking for ways to engage community by leveraging social media," she explains. So, marketing managers with a strong social media background or those with experience in a specific market are able to work behind-the-scenes to develop brands and fortify images by creating company posts, determining what goes out on the Twitter feed, and developing corporate messages, says Lynn.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.
How to Prepare: A bachelor's degree is required for most marketing management positions, according to the Department of Labor. Courses in business law, accounting, finance, economics, mathematics, and statistics are good preparation for this career. These managers typically have work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions, or sales, adds the Department.

Career #4: Electronics Engineers

Median
Annual Salary
$91,820
Bottom 10 Percent
$58,470
Top 10 Percent
$141,190
If you like to tinker with gadgets but shy away from demonstrating your prowess under a bright spotlight, electronics engineering might be a promising career to consider.
Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, electronics engineers are responsible for designing and developing electronic equipment - from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS). So while the products they design are available to the public, electronics engineers perform the low-profile tasks of conducting research and development behind those products.
As for salary, engineers in general earn more than many other professions, because they are in high demand. The 2012 "Talent Shortage Survey" by ManpowerGroup showed that engineer is the second most difficult position to fill nationwide.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.
How to Prepare: According to the Department, electronics engineers must have a bachelor's degree. Practical experience is also valuable when pursuing this career, so cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit for structured work experience, are good preparation as well.

Career #5: Public Relations Manager

Median
Annual Salary
$95,450
Bottom 10 Percent
$51,630
Top 10 Percent
$180,480
A career as a public relations manager may sound high-profile, but people in this position stay relatively out of the spotlight. Instead, they might draft speeches delivered by top executives or arrange interviews for company representatives with the media - all while maintaining a low-profile.
Why It's High-Pay and Low-Profile: Public relations managers write press releases and other material for the media, plan and direct public relations programs, as well as raise funds for their organizations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
New technology is changing the face of this industry as well as how public relations managers carry out their responsibilities taking them into the online space, even further away from the spotlight. For example, managers who can build market share and community with online tools are rewarded with good salaries, says Lynn.
"Companies are competing, and there is demand for people to create a competitive advantage for your brand," she adds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.
How to Prepare: A bachelor's degree in communications, public relations, or journalism is typically needed for public relations management positions, notes the Department of Labor. Beyond that, public relations managers may also need related work experience.

6 smart career changes that could boost your pay


Six Smart Career Changes

Focus on making a career change into one of these promising fields with high pay, high growth, or both.

By Danielle Blundell
Do you ever wonder if there's a better job out there for you? Perhaps you're interested in making more money or more opportunities for professional growth. Making a career switch may seem intimidating, but it is possible to leverage your experience and background into a bigger, better opportunity. But how can you decide if embarking on a new professional path is worth it?
According to Laura Rose, business and career management coach at Rose Coaching, the ideal career switch is "a position where you can leverage your current role, earn higher pay, and have high job growth." However, the key is understanding that "it may be difficult to accomplish all of the above in just one switch or move," she says. And that seems to be the case, as some of the best careers to switch into are high-level and may require years of advanced experience. But not to worry, you can start taking steps toward that career path today.
Where to start? Read on to discover new possible career paths  and how you can make a logical switch.

Career-Change #1: Public Relations Manager

Find Degree Programs You're a people-person who can strike up a conversation with almost anyone. Maybe you enjoy working in customer service or retail, but you're looking for more responsibility as well as marketability. Sounds like you could be the perfect candidate for a gig as a public relations manager.
Why It's An Ideal Switch: For career coach Scott Barlow, founder of Happentoyourcareer.com, a career counseling and advice website, transitioning from a customer service rep job into a public relations manager role takes advantage of both professions' overlapping communication-based skills - only the latter requires a more in-depth mastery, which means higher salaries.
"A customer service representative job can require extensive communication skills and an ability to tailor communication to a situation," says Barlow. While all of that is relevant in PR, he says that the PR manager role pays much more, because it often requires managing much larger projects, programs, and more people than what a customer service rep typically would encounter.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, that's the case, as PR managers are often responsible for drafting speeches and press releases, arranging interviews for an organization's top executives,  and evaluating advertising and promotion programs to determine compatibility with an organization's public relations efforts.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.
Salary Info:*
  • Median Annual Salary: $95,450
  • Highest 10 Percent of Earners: $180,480
  • Lowest 10 Percent of Earners: $51,630
Job Growth from 2010 to 2020:** 65,700 jobs
How to Prepare: According to the Department of Labor, public relations managers typically have a bachelor's degree in a discipline such as public relations, English, journalism, business, or communications. They also need related work experience, says the Department.

Career-Change #2: Accountant

Find Degree Programs Crunching numbers and working with stats is what you were born to do. Yet toiling away as a bookkeeper, bank teller, or in some other job just isn't as fulfilling as you thought, and you know you've got the math savvy and potential to do more. Pursuing a career as an accountant, which is often a higher-paying, higher-growth position, might just be the career that makes the most dollars and sense for you.
Why It's An Ideal Switch: Again, according to Barlow, making the switch from bookkeeping to accounting makes sense, as both positions entail working with numbers,  spreadsheets, and software. The difference, he says, is that accountants are often called on to advise clients and companies, rather than just give them the raw data as a bookkeeper might, and therein lies the higher pay and importance.
"An accountant requires critical thought and analytical and communication abilities to make recommendations or act in an advisor role," he says. The U.S. Department of Labor details the role of an accountant, saying that accountants are often tasked with managing the accuracy of a company's financial statements, computing taxes, and suggesting cost-cutting measures when and where applicable.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
Salary Info:*
  • Median Annual Salary: $63,550
  • Highest 10 Percent of Earners: $111,510
  • Lowest 10 Percent of Earners: $39,930
Job Growth from 2010 to 2020:** 190,700
How to Prepare: Ready to see what it will take to make the jump? Well, according to the Department of Labor, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related discipline first. Certification, such as becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), could improve job prospects.

Career-Change #3: Police Officer

Find Degree Programs Friends are always telling you that you've got a strong presence and an attitude that says,"Don't mess with me." And that's a good thing to project, because maybe your line of work is in security. But have you ever considered a potentially higher-paying position as a police officer? Being cool under pressure, and authoritative, would serve you well in this field, too.
Why It's An Ideal Switch: Both jobs rely on keen observation, says Barlow, and "some security guards may also gain firearms experience." A combination of those skills could make for an easy transition into the Police Academy. Once completed, advanced training and education in this field typically leads to more pay down the line, adds Barlow.
He explains, "The police officer requires a high degree of training and sometimes physical fitness that the security guard does not."
Specifically, as stated by the U.S. Department of Labor, you will have to graduate from the local agency's police academy, where you'll learn everything from handling firearms safely to responding to calls for service and more.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.
Salary Info:*
  • Median Annual Salary: $55,270
  • Highest 10 Percent of Earners: $89,310
  • Lowest 10 Percent of Earners: $32,350
Job Growth from 2010 to 2020:** 54,600
How to Prepare: At a minimum, the Department of Labor says cops must be at least 21 years old, meet rigorous physical and personal qualifications, and graduate from a training police academy.
That said, according to the Department, a significant number of entry-level positions are filled by college graduates, and many applicants have at least taken some college courses.

Career-Change #4: Graphic Designer

Find Degree Programs You're the creative type, and integrating text and words into a brochure, pamphlet, or journal barely feels like work to you. Well, instead of being pigeonholed as a desktop publisher, who predominantly works in the dying print medium, why not skill up and expand your artsy horizons as a graphic designer?
Why It's An Ideal Switch: According to Bettina Seidman of Seidbet Associates, an executive coaching and career counseling firm, graphic designers get paid more than desktop publishers because, while their skill sets are similar, graphic design requires more creative conceptualization and idea germination. In essence, designers aren't just cutting and pasting images and words - they're generating the ideas behind ads, commercials, and other materials. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, they create visual concepts to communicate ideas that captivate, inform, or inspire consumers.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Graphic Design Program.
Salary Info:*
  • Median Annual Salary: $44,150
  • Highest 10 Percent of Earners: $77,490
  • Lowest 10 Percent of Earners: $26,250  
Job Growth from 2010 to 2020:** 37,300
How to Prepare: The U.S. Department of Labor says a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required for these positions.

Career-Change #5: Medical and Health Services Manager

Find Degree Programs Have you found your niche in the health care industry? Or perhaps you enjoy using your organizational skills in administration. In either case, your next professional step could be taking up more responsibility or even a leadership role. Making the switch to medical or health services manager could be a smart move and might be more straightforward than you think.
Why It's An Ideal Switch: In Seidman's opinion, taking on managerial work in the same field is a logical move that pays off financially, and health care administration is no exception to this rule. Plus, Seidman notes that it might require more education and preparation than more clerical or technical positions in health care.
Barlow agrees. The technician may be well-versed in technical and medical terminology and able to navigate common problems for that industry, he says. On the other hand, "The manager requires a higher level of problem-solving and decision-making capability as well as the skill sets to manage programs or lead people," Barlow explains.
And that's just the case, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which says that medical and health services managers not only keep track of a hospital or facility's finances, they also often create work schedules, communicate with members of the medical staff and department heads, and help improve efficiency and quality in the delivery of health care services.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.
Salary Info:*
  • Median Annual Salary: $88,580
  • Highest 10 Percent of Earners: $150,560
  • Lowest 10 Percent of Earners:$53,940
Job Growth from 2010 to 2020:** 68,000
How to Prepare: According to the Department of Labor, the first step in getting this career switch underway is a bachelor's in a subject like health care administration. Master's degrees are also common in fields such as business administration, health services, public health, public administration, or long-term administration, according to the Department.

Career-Change #6: Information Security Analyst

Find Degree Programs You understand both users' needs and the nuances of technology, but at your heart, you are that computer nerd that could spend hours just looking at data, computer languages, and code. Instead of just wasting your talents behind a help desk as a computer support specialist or another entry-level position, how about switching into a lucrative career path as an information security analyst?
Why It's An Ideal Switch: According to Rose, there are transferable skills between a job as a computer support specialist and an information security analyst that make for a smooth transition. The key here, she says, is likely going back to school or attempting to fill whatever skills gap exists during your spare time and working with a mentor or coach to formulate a plan to pursue this higher-paying career. In an information security analyst position, you should be prepared to provide critical analysis and recommendations to your company.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, you could be responsible for planning your company's strategy for security, developing security standards and best practices for your organization, and monitoring your company's network for security breaches.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
Salary Info:*
  • Median Annual Salary: $86,170
  • Highest 10 Percent of Earners: $135,600
  • Lowest 10 Percent of Earners: $49,960
Job Growth from 2010 to 2020:** 65,700
How to Prepare: A bachelor's degree in computer science, programming, or a related field could have you right on your way to pursuing a career as an information security analyst, says the Department of Labor. Some employers may prefer applicants who have a master's of business administration (MBA) in information systems, says the Department.

Six career switches that could boost your pay


Five dead-end jobs

Turn your current skills into potentially better pay with one of these six career moves. 

By Lia Sestric
You've found a line of work that you love. The only problem is that the pay isn't much to brag about. Don't worry; there is a silver lining.
You don't have to pursue a career in a new industry to make more money. In fact, there are some career alternatives within your field that could offer a higher wage. The career shift could mean going back to school, but it certainly doesn't mean tossing the skills you've developed - along with prior experience - to the wayside.
Are you ready to learn which career alternatives you should consider pursuing? Keep reading to find out how you can prepare for one of these sensible career moves that could lead to some more cash.

Career #1: Bookkeeper

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$35,170
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$21,610
Top 10 percent of earners
$54,310
While a bookkeeper's work is important, they could find better pay as an accountant, says William Knese, chair of the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (IMA), a world-wide association for accountants and financial professionals.

Higher-Paying Alternative: Accountant

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$63,550
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$39,930
Top 10 percent of earners
$111,510
Those who work as a bookkeeper may already have a natural interest in continuing their education and making a career move to accounting, says Knese. "Management accountants contribute to an organization's decision-making process. It's an exciting role with potential for career mobility and earning power."
Taunee Besson, president of Career Dimensions, a consulting firm in Dallas, also agrees that this is a wise move. "Accounting positions require people who have training and expertise in a broad range of financial areas. Consequently, they are more valuable to their employers than bookkeepers, who are often confined to posting and balancing the general ledger."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
Life on the Job: Accountants prepare and examine financial records and assess financial operations to make sure a company runs efficiently, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education Requirements: The Department of Labor says most accountants need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related subject. Some employers do prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting, adds the Department.

Career #2: Registered Nurse

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$65,470
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$45,040
Top 10 percent of earners
$94,720
Undeniably, nurses have the potential to make a reasonable paycheck and are in great demand. But Marty Witrak, dean of the School of Nursing at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota notes that if you're looking for higher pay while staying in the industry, you could trade in your scrubs for an administrative position in health care.

Higher-Paying Alternative: Medical and Health Services Manager

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$88,580
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$53,940
Top 10 percent of earners
$150,560
While direct patient care would be out of the scope of duties with this higher-paying alternative, it could be just as rewarding."It really depends on the individual and what is very satisfying to them about their work life," says Witrak. Although nurses initially enter the profession because of their interest in patient care, she says "a nurse often will discover that he or she has administrative talents or interest." And taking advantage of those talents could pay off with a pay increase, since Witrak says that health care facilities are always looking for people "with a good business head on their shoulders".
Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.
Life on the Job: Instead of providing direct patient care like nurses do, medical and health services managers plan, direct, and coordinate health services, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education Requirements: The Department of Labor says prospective health care administrators have a bachelor's degree in health care administration. However, master's degrees are common, too, in fields such as health services, long-term care administration, public health, public administration, or business administration.

Career #3: Childcare Worker

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$19,510
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$16,340
Top 10 percent of earners
$29,510
While this job may give you the chance to work with little ones, Besson says childcare workers are usually paid much less than they are worth. But don't worry. There is a logical career move if you enjoy working with children, adds Besson.

Higher-Paying Alternative: Kindergarten Teacher

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$50,120
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$32,450
Top 10 percent of earners
$78,230
Life as a kindergarten teacher would still be filled with children, but you'll be better compensated for your efforts."Kindergarten teachers typically work for institutions whose compensation structure is substantially better," says Besson. "One reason the income differs is the qualifications for the two positions. Kindergarten teachers must have specific educational credentials, while childcare workers may have very few."
Next step: Click to Find the Right K-12 Program.
Life on the Job: Kindergarten teachers teach younger students subjects like reading and math to prepare them for future school, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education Requirements: All states require public kindergarten school teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, in addition to being licensed, reports the Department of Labor.

Career #4: File Clerk

Median
annual wage*
$26,190
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$17,930
Top 10 percent of earners
$41,230
Unfortunately this profession has a dismal future, as technology now performs most of the same work as file clerks did in the past, says Besson. But fear not: There is an alternative profession that could use your talents.

Career #5: Personal Care Aide

Median
annual wage*
$19,910
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$16,330
Top 10 percent of earners
$27,580
While this work is very important, it unfortunately offers little pay and advancement, says Robynn Anwar, a professor at Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey. What should you do instead, then? Try medical assisting, says Anwar.

Higher-Paying Alternative: Medical Assistant

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$29,370
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$21,080
Top 10 percent of earners
$41,570
"Getting the training and earning the certification as a certified medical assistant would be a step forward in the health care field," says Anwar. "It would allow the person to become more marketable, because they would be trained, qualified, and certified with a universal credential that speaks to their capabilities."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Medical Assisting Program.
Life on the Job: Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks in medical offices, although their roles may vary with location, specialty, and size of the practice, the U.S. Department of Labor says.
Education Requirements: In most states, there are not any formal training requirements to pursue a career as a medical assistant, says the Department of Labor. Although, the Department does say employers may prefer candidates who graduate from a formal program. These programs could lead to a certificate, diploma, or an associate's degree.

Career #6: Computer Support Specialist

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$46,420
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$27,620
Top 10 percent of earners
$77,430
If you feel connected to this technological line of work but want to see higher pay, there is a career leap you can make to significantly grow your salary.

Higher-Paying Alternative: Computer Programmer

Find Degree Programs
Median
annual wage*
$74,280
Bottom 10 percent of earners
$42,850
Top 10 percent of earners
$117,890
"Moving from computer support specialist to programmer, more commonly known as developer, is a frequent and logical career move," says Bob Makarowski, an instructor of technology programs at Baruch College in New York City.
Makarowski adds that "developer positions offer higher salaries, because there is a broader and more comprehensive level of organizational literacy needed in that position."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
Life on the Job: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, computer programmers write code to make software programs. Essentially, they take designs created by developers and turn it into language that a computer can read.
Education Requirements: Most of these professionals have a bachelor's degree, although some employers may hire applicants who have an associate's degree, says the Department of Labor. Programmers commonly major in computer science or a related subject.

The 7 hottest careers for college grads


The 7 Hottest Careers

Are you a college student - or thinking about going back to school? You need to check out this list of the 7 hottest careers for college grads.

By Jennifer Berry
Would you pick your major more carefully if you knew certain fields of study could help you launch a hot career? If you answered "yes," than you should check out the recent UC San Diego Extension report, "Hot Careers For College Grads and Returning Students 2013," which is based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor. These hot careers were chosen because of their job growth, salary, and work environment - all important factors in building a satisfying professional life.
"All of these jobs are forecasted to be in high demand," says Chandlee Bryan, job search strategist and career coach at Best Fit Forward, a provider of career and consulting services. Combined with strong salaries and a good work environment, it's easy to see why these careers made the "hot" list.
"A simple recipe to increase your odds of finding good employment is to pursue a career where there are fewer potential employees than there are number of jobs," Bryan adds. "All of these positions fall into that category."
So if you can find a line of work that interests you on this list, it might be a career well worth considering. Keep reading to learn about the seven hottest careers to begin preparing for today.

Career #1 - Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software (tie)*

Find Degree Programs Are you ready to combine your creativity and technical know-how to help make things easier, more fun, or more efficient for people and businesses? Consider pursuing a career as a software developer - the number one career in the UC San Diego Extension's report on the hottest careers for college grads.
The Hot Factor: According to the report, the integration of technology into our daily lives - from personal computers to cars to smartphones, "has created an ongoing critical shortage of qualified software developers to design, develop, test, document, and maintain the complex programs that run on these hardware platforms."
In other words, the demand for software developers is and will continue to be intense. Take a minute to think about all the software you interact with every day, and you'll start to understand why.
"Our society runs on devices that are programmed via software - from apps we use to check the weather and news to word processing, spreadsheets, manufacturing production, barcode scanners, and CGI video production," says Bryan. She adds while there's a very high demand for coders, there aren't a lot of people who have the necessary skills to fill these positions.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Programming and Software Program.
What Would I Do In This Job? Your job could vary from designing a specific application to developing the underlying systems that run devices or control networks, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
How Can I Prepare For This Career? Think you'd make a great software developer? You'll usually need a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, mathematics, or a related field as well as strong programming skills to pursue this career, the Department of Labor notes.

Career #2 - Market Research Analyst

Find Degree Programs What good is a great product if it never reaches its intended market? That question is at the heart of what lands this job on the list of hottest careers for college grads.
The Hot Factor: Market research analyst jobs have exploded in every sector of the economy, according to the UC San Diego Extension report. This has created a high demand for those who can access, analyze, and extract meaningful, actionable, and tactical implications from a sea of data.
Why? Almost everyone needs them. "Every company with a product or service to offer can benefit from a trained market research analyst to decipher what their consumers want and how to market products and services to them," says Brie Reynolds, director of online content for FlexJobs, a source for flexible, telecommuting jobs.
And their efforts aren't in vain. "When products are released without the help of market research analysts, there's a bigger chance that the product will flop or fail," Bryan explains.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.
What Would I Do In This Job? You might forecast marketing and sales trends, gather data about consumers, and measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies, the U.S. Department of Labor says.
How Can I Prepare For This Career? You'll typically need a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field like statistics, math, computer science, business administration, one of the social sciences, or communications to get started, says the Department of Labor.

Career #3 - Accountant and Auditor

Find Degree Programs When you hear "accountant" do you picture a simple bookkeeper just scraping by? Think again. Today, "accountant and auditor" ranks third on the list of hottest careers.
The Hot Factor: Accountants and auditors earned their spot on the hot careers list, because of the sheer demand for accounting jobs, the report says. In 2010, more than 1 million people were employed as accountants and auditors, and that number is expected to grow at a healthy rate of 16 percent by 2020. The report also states that in the last three years, the mean annual salary for accounting and audit careers has increased by nearly $10,000 to $71,040. Why the demand for more accountants and auditors?
"Firms got lean during the recession. Now everyone is rebuilding capacity," says Philip Reckers, director of the School of Accountancy at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. "Investors are demanding more information. More accountants are needed to meet this appetite, and more auditors are needed to give users assurance that the information is reliable."
Want another way to look at this? "Every industry uses money and systems," as Steve Langerud, workplace expert and principal consultant in the LiSTRA company, a boutique business transition firm, notes. "Accountants and auditors drive the systems."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
What Would I Do In This Job? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, you might compute taxes owed, prepare tax returns, and help companies improve profits.
How Can I Prepare For This Career? To get started in this field, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field for most positions, according to the Department of Labor. Some employers prefer candidates with master's degrees in accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting.

Career #4 - Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Find Degree Programs Technology plays an increasingly vital role in our society - one reason why network and computer systems administrator ranks fourth on the list of hottest careers for college grads.
The Hot Factor: What landed this career on the list? "A mean annual salary of $76,320 paired with a projected growth rate of 28 percent by 2020," the report says. It explains that our increasing reliance on technology will generate a strong demand for systems administrators well into the future. Why?
"Have you ever worked in an environment where the [computer] system didn't work? Enough said. If the system doesn't function well or goes down, it comes at the cost of service and productivity," says Langerud. "Time down is money lost. So good administrators are worth every penny they get paid."
And as far as the future goes? "It's pretty safe to assume that reliance on technology is only going to increase in all businesses and organizations in the foreseeable future, so this is a career field with a lot of opportunity for college grads," says Reynolds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
What Would I Do In This Job? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, you might install and upgrade network hardware and software, train users, and solve problems quickly when there's an issue.
How Can I Prepare For This Career? To get started in this field, you'll often need a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer or information science, according to the Department of Labor. Degrees in computer engineering or electrical engineering are also usually acceptable.

Career #5 - Elementary School Teacher (excluding special education)

Find Degree Programs Some careers are jobs, others are callings. Elementary school teacher could easily fall into the latter category, since many in this profession have a passion for shaping young minds. So even without a high salary, it lands on the list of the hottest careers.
The Hot Factor: According to the UCSD Extension report, elementary school teachers outnumber any other single occupation nationally, and a teaching career path tends to offer a form of stability that is relatively rare in other fields of pursuit. Yes, the mean annual salary at $56,130, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is lower than other careers listed in the report. But, the report goes on to note, "for those who have the patience, passion, and persistence... educating children in the elementary grades can prove a challenging, creative, and rewarding career."
There are other benefits which might make this an attractive choice for some. "Not only do traditional schools offer flexible schedules and the coveted ‘summers off' for teachers, but there are now virtual schools hiring certified teachers to teach students online," says Reynolds. With these new technological developments, she adds, this career offers even more flexibility for college grads who want to work from home while pursuing this fulfilling career.
Next step: Click to Find the Right K-12 Education Program.
What Would I Do In This Job? As an elementary school teacher, your day might include planning and teaching lessons, grading homework, and talking with parents about their child's progress.
How Can I Prepare For This Career? To pursue an elementary school teaching position in a public school, you must have a bachelor's degree in elementary education, the U.S. Department of Labor notes. Your state might also require you to major in a content area or to earn a master's degree after receiving your teaching certification.

Career #6 - Computer Systems Analyst

Find Degree Programs Yes - another computer career. The prevalence of technology in our society helped put computer systems analyst on the list of hottest careers for college grads.
The Hot Factor: Computer systems analysts scored strongly in every category of hot careers evaluation, from growth to salary, the report states. This career is projected to grow in demand by 22 percent by 2020. And with a mean annual salary of $83,800, it is one of the most lucrative jobs on the list.
Once you understand everything that computer systems analysts do, it makes sense that they pull in decent salaries. "Computer systems analysts help companies to sort out what computer systems will make them as efficient and productive as possible," says Reynolds.
So, in addition to being technically savvy, computer systems analysts must be good communicators. "This is a great career for someone with both technical and people skills, because computer systems analysts are the go-between for IT and management," Reynolds adds. "College grads who can excel in both these areas will have lots of opportunities to choose from."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
What Would I Do In This Job? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, your day might include installing and testing new systems, training users, and writing instruction manuals if needed.
How Can I Prepare For This Career? Computer systems analysts commonly have a bachelor's degree in a computer or information science, the Department of Labor notes. Some employers hire analysts with business or liberal arts degrees who have the skills to write computer programs.

Career #7 - Management Analyst

Find Degree Programs All sorts of companies are looking for big picture thinkers to help them run more smoothly and profitably - one of the reasons why management analyst ranks seventh on the list of hottest careers.
The Hot Factor: All industries - including government and not-for-profit organizations - need management analysts to operate efficiently, according to the UC San Diego Extension report. "Utilization of management consultants has been growing [since the global economic recession], and demand for these professionals is projected to continue to grow by 22 percent by 2020. The mean annual salary for management consultants is $88,070."
There's a reason they are in such high demand. "Management analysts help improve operational efficiency which cuts an organization's operating costs and allows them to be more productive. This is a high-demand field because most businesses want to save money and produce more," Bryan explains.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Program.
What Would I Do In This Job? Well, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, you might offer advice to make companies more profitable, recommend new procedures, and analyze financial data.
How Can I Prepare For This Career? You'll typically be required to have a bachelor's degree for an entry-level position, the Department of Labor states. Many fields of study may help you prepare to pursue this career, including business, management, accounting, marketing, economics, statistics, computer and information science, and engineering. However, the Department also notes that some employers prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in business administration (MBA).

Careers That Are Built To Last

 

Careers Built To Last

See how the right education could prepare you to pursue a stable career.

By Jennifer Berry
Your career doesn't need to be as unstable as the economy.
It's true...long-term security is not a pipe dream. At least not according to Carolyn Hughes, head of HR at SimplyHired.com, which has about five million online job postings users can search.
Hughes says there are plenty long-term careers out there...but some of them might look a little different than they did a decade ago.
"These days you might have a 30-year career in a specialized firm (like an accounting firm) rather than a big corporation that has all departments in house," she points out as an example.
Want to learn more about stable career options? Keep reading to see seven careers with staying power.

Career #1 - Paralegals
Average Earning Potential: $50,080*

As a paralegal, you may help prepare for trials, draft contracts, establish trust funds, or even investigate the facts of cases and take affidavits.
Why it's built to last: The U.S. Department of Labor projects excellent job growth for paralegals - 28 percent between 2008 and 2018. According to Hughes, the paralegal profession is a "solid occupation that isn't going anywhere. There's enough complexity in legal cases that this position isn't easily outsourced."
Education option: If you're interested in this field, consider earning an associate's degree in paralegal studies. If you already have a bachelor's degree, a certificate in paralegal studies can provide you with intensive paralegal too. Check to see if your program offers internship opportunities, which could provide valuable hands-on experience.
[Find Paralegal Schools Near You - Go Now]

Career #2 - Accountants
Average Earning Potential: $67,430*

As an accountant, your duties might include bookkeeping, preparing taxes, and financial and investment planning. Some accountants even work with law enforcement to help investigate financial crimes.
Why it's built to last: Corporations, the government, non-profit organizations, and individuals - they all need accountants to help with financial matters, Hughes says...and that need isn't waning anytime soon. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduates with an accounting degree are leading all others in job offers prior to graduation in 2011.
Education option: Look into a bachelor's degree program in accounting or a related field.
[Find the Right Accounting Degree Program for You]

Career #3 - Nurses
Average Earning Potential: $66,530*

As a registered nurse, you could work closely with doctors and patients on a daily basis. Your responsibilities might also involve administering medications, performing diagnostic tests, helping with rehabilitation, and providing advice and emotional support to patients and their families.
Why it's built to last: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment opportunities for nurses will grow 22 percent from 2008 to 2018. "This is the kind of career that will exist whether we like it or not in tremendous demand for the next 30 years," notes Hughes.
Education option: You can earn an associate's degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN).
[Click to Find Nursing Schools Near You]

Career #4 - Police Officers
Average Earning Potential: $55,180*

Law and order remains a priority for many communities. As a police officer, you might issue citations, respond to calls, or even pursue and apprehend individuals who break the law. The position will also require you to write reports and maintain good records, things that could be especially important if you have to testify in court.
Why it's built to last: Police officers are crucial to keeping our communities safe - and that isn't going to change. While state and local budgets are seeing cuts these days, population growth is the main driver of demand for police officers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education option: Police officers need a high school degree and - in some cases - one or two years of college or a degree. Consider earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice. You may also want to focus on your physical conditioning - many law enforcement positions require physical agility and stamina.
[Find Criminal Justice Schools]

Career #5 - Teachers
Average Earning Potential: $53,150 to $55,150*

Teachers play a vital role in shaping the futures of our children. As a teacher, you'll plan lessons, grade tests and papers, and meet with parents and school staff to discuss your students' academic progress. You may even incorporate new media into your lesson plans.
Why it's built to last: We'll need new teachers to replace retirees and to handle the growing number of students. State and local budget problems aside, the U.S. Department of Labor expects a large number of teachers to retire over the next decade. They also expect high enrollment in rapidly growing southern and western states.
Education option: You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to get started. If you're interested in teaching in high school, consider majoring in the subject you plan to teach while you take your teacher preparation classes. Many teacher education programs include a student-teaching internship where you can get valuable classroom time with an experienced teacher.
[Search for Teaching Programs Near You]

Career #6 - Tax Collectors
Average Earning Potential: $53,800*

Though the truth may trouble you, the tax man is here to stay! As a tax collector, you could handle delinquent accounts, investigate returns, and work with taxpayers to help them settle their debts.
Why it's built to last: You know the saying...the only things certain in life are death and taxes. And as long as there are taxes, we'll need tax collectors. The U.S. Department of Labor seems to agree, projecting employment of tax collectors to grow 13 percent from 2008 to 2018. "When you think about the position we're in as a country, there's a huge incentive to go and find out who's cheating the government - and to get that money back," comments Hughes.
Education option: Consider earning your associate's or bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting, or criminal justice.
[Find Business and Accounting Schools - Start Now]

Career #7 - Budget Analysts
Average Earning Potential: $69,240*

As a budget analyst, you would help your organization allocate their financial resources efficiently and effectively. You might also develop and execute budgets, research economic developments that could affect your organization, and create budget reports and summaries.
Why it's built to last: The recent recession has led to a greater scrutiny of budgets so that businesses can ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible. And as businesses become more complex and specialized, demand for budget analysts will grow 15 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Education option: A bachelor's degree is usually required for budget analyst positions, but some companies may require a master's degree. Consider earning a degree in accounting, finance, business, or economics.

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