Best Online Degrees According to Salary and Employability
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What Should You Get an Online Degree In?

There are a lot of online college options. But what online degrees will get you the job that you want? Will employers trust an online degree?

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Sure they will! Lots of people are very busy or already right in the middle of a professional career, making it impossible to commit to making it to a physical classroom. If you are one of those returning students looking to finish a degree or add a new one, these degrees offer the most earning potential.

The degree areas are listed in descending order with the highest salary potential first.

Jobs for $100,000+ a Year

While these job areas have potential earnings of over $100,000 a year, there is a bit of a spread, and the money is not necessarily instantaneous unless you have already been working in that or an adjacent field.

  • Fields: Engineering, information technology, business and finance, advertising and marketing
  • Jobs: Engineering management, computer and information systems manager, petroleum engineer, financial manager, human resources manager

Jobs for $50,000+ a Year

The following positions require a certification, bachelor degree, or graduate degree.

Education, Media Relations, Design, and Health

  • Fields: Engineering, computer science, healthcare, education, human resources, mental health/counseling, health and human services, business and finance, accounting
  • Jobs: Special education teacher, PR specialist, training & development specialist, editor, arbitrator/mediator, dietician or nutritionist, film and video editing, camera operation, medical laboratory technician, interior designer

Nuclear Technician (Associate Degree)

No, you’re not going to be splitting atoms. Nuclear technicians generally work in power plants monitoring radiation levels and working alongside engineers. They may also work in the research sector.

  • 2010 median pay: $68,090 per year; $32.73 per hour
  • Job outlook, 2010-20: 14% growth
  • Projected increase in jobs, 2010-20: 1,000

Electrical or Electronic Engineering Technician (Associate Degree)

With the sheer amount a gadgetry in the world today it won’t be hard to find work as an electronics technician. Electrical engineering technicians work alongside designers and engineers in the manufacturing sector as well as research and government positions.

  • 2010 median pay: $56,040 per year; $26.94 per hour
  • Job outlook, 2010-20: 2% growth
  • Projected increase in jobs, 2010-20: 2,900

The following schools offer online electrical or electronic engineering technician AA degrees:

  • DeVry University
  • ECPI University
  • Kaplan University

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (Associate Degree)

Diagnostic medical sonographers use medical imaging machines to direct sound waves into a patient’s body. These procedures are typically known as sonograms, ultrasounds, or echocardiograms.

  • 2010 median pay: $64,380 per year; $30.95 per hour
  • Job outlook, 2010-20: 44% growth

The following schools offer distance learning or online diagnostic medical sonographer AA degrees:

  • Jackson Community College
  • Mountain State University

Jobs for $40,000+ a Year

Most of the following programs require a bachelor program, unless otherwise indicated.

Paralegal or Legal Assistant

Sometimes these two terms are interchangeable, though paralegals almost always have a specific paralegal certification. A paralegal or legal assistant assists attorneys in representing their clients.They prepare discovery materials, briefs, wills, and other documents. They will interview clients and witnesses, and handle a lot of the grunt work of the legal profession.

A job as a paralegal can be attained through an associate degree or certification-only program.

Social Worker

This job nearly always requires a master's degree plus a license to practice that varies state to state. Social work often looks a lot like the work of counselors or psychologists, with the added requirement of finding additional support for their clients.

They often come in at particular times in a person’s life, to aid through a transition such as placement in foster care, hospitalization, or movement to a nursing home. They often work in a hospital, government agency, or school setting. Think of them as therapists who are equipped to handle more practical issues such as helping their clients find shelter. Sometimes they are just counselors and do not have to do that extra legwork, though.

Their median income is generally $43,000 for those working in a medical setting. Child and family social workers or those employed by schools often make less than $40,000 a year.

Health Educator or Community Health Worker

Unsung heroes of the medical profession, these professionals go out into the community to teach people about things like proper hygiene, tuberculosis care, infant caretaking, local disease outbreaks, sexual health, and basically any public health issue that can be solved through education.

It is people like this who are in large part responsible for lowering the incidence of HIV infection in population pockets around the world, and who help stop the spread of preventable infections in poor families. If you are a strong communicator, have the desire to help others, and are interested in medicine, this could be for you.

  • Median Income: $43,000

Substance Abuse Counselor

These counselors take additional training in order to understand the nature of addiction. Substance abuse counselors more often than not find themselves dealing with underlying mental trauma or disorders in their patients on top of their issues with substance abuse.

Although a good counselor is clearly priceless, median earnings are right around $46,000 a year.

Preschool or Childcare Center Director

Love children and management? This might be for you. With all of the corporate childcare options out there and the absolute necessity for their services, this can be a great opportunity that does not actually take too much schooling altogether.

Childcare workers and directors should have at least a certificate or associate degree in early childhood education. Directors often have a bachelor degree that might include coursework in business administration or just an associate degree with additional certification.

Final Thoughts

While these online degrees will open up opportunities for you, doing your schooling online can be very isolating. Research the school you’re interested in to make sure you will get the support you need.

Being an online student is a bit like becoming an entrepreneur or freelancer. Although it’s more convenient and potentially the only way you can fit schooling into your schedule, it requires a lot of self-discipline and hard work. Take advantage of whatever support you can so you keep up momentum and earn that degree!

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