It’s no secret that earning a higher education degree leads to jobs with lucrative salary ranges. Whether you earn an associate’s degree or continue to your master’s or doctoral level, your education can open doors to financial security and a satisfying position in a field of your choice.
It is becoming increasingly popular for students to pursue online degrees. At schools across the country, these programs offer flexibility and a wide range of subject choices with the same accreditation as in-person programs. The courses may be taken at your convenience at home or in the local cafe and at a time that suits you.
What are the highest-paying online degrees? What subjects should you choose to give you the best return for your education dollars? Below, we take a look at some you should consider.
Top 5 Highest Paying Online Degrees
There are many subjects you can study that will enable you to earn a substantial income upon graduation. Each program has multiple career paths that students can choose to take after graduation, which leads to a range in the salary for the degree. Let’s take a look at the top five.
Studying finance is a reliable way to ensure you’ll earn a good living after you have your online diploma. There are several occupations that a degree in finance prepares you for. Your career options include becoming an accountant, financial analyst, or banker. Insurance underwriters and claims adjusters, as do fundraisers and purchasing managers, often have finance backgrounds. Some of these occupations can be undertaken with an associate’s degree in finance, while others are more appropriate to those with a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. What you can earn varies with the job you choose and the level of education you have achieved, but financial managers with a bachelor’s degree earn a median pay of $131,710. This position alone is anticipated to grow by 17 percent over the next decade. Other finance-related careers may see you making as much, if not more.
2. Business administration
As is true of finance, those with a degree in business administration have a broad range of positions for which they may qualify. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some particularly high-paying jobs include claims adjusters, management analysts, market research analysts, and purchasing agents. Online business administration programs are available at the bachelor’s degree level, with more advanced programs including a master’s of business administration and a doctorate in business administration Management-related positions are particularly lucrative, with CEOs earning a median salary of $175,110. Medical and health services managers bring in an annual salary of $165,380 or more. The annual salary for management positions as a whole is $102,450, making online programs, such as MBAs, an excellent choice for many students.
Marketing professionals are vital to the business world, and their skills are in high demand. For example, according to the BLS, the growth rate for market research analysts is 19 percent over the next decade—much higher growth than most professions. Marketing managers, meanwhile, earn a mean annual wage of $153,440 and work in industries including oil and gas extraction, cable programming, and scientific research and development services. Those interested in marketing can earn an online associate’s degree to learn marketing fundamentals. This degree opens the door to sales, advertising, and public relations positions. Those who wish to build on their education can earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree online, leading to jobs in a broad range of business, non-profit, and government organizations.
4. Political science
Political scientists play a key role in researching and analyzing political systems, and their work may influence public policy and law for years to come. Although they may start their professional life after earning a bachelor’s degree, many continue their education to the master’s or doctoral level. Many colleges and universities offer robust online programs in political science. According to the BLS, a political scientist with a master’s degree earns a median salary of $122,510 per year. Most political scientists work for the government, but there are also openings in professional, scientific, and civic organizations as well as in higher education, where they are employed as professors of history or political science.
5. Software engineering
Software engineering is another good choice if you are looking for stimulating work in a vibrant professional environment. The BLS says the need for software engineers is growing by 25 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than average. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers all work to design computer applications and programs. They can expect to earn a median salary of $109,020 per year with a bachelor’s degree. Those who continue to earn a master’s degree may earn a higher salary and are eligible for leadership positions in their organization.
Other Factors to Consider
Although salary range is important when planning your educational pathway, it’s not the only one. There are other factors to take into account to ensure that you end up in a professional position that is right for you.
When researching possible fields, it’s a good idea to look at the potential job growth for the field. The best way to determine this is with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is available online for free and features a wealth of well-researched data on job growth, projected salary range, and much more for a broad range of positions. You may also glean information on the health of your chosen field through subject-specific journals and professional organization websites.
When choosing a career, it’s not essential to pick an area you’re passionate about, but it can be useful to enter a field in which you have some personal interest. For example, if you’re a political junkie who follows government matters religiously, a career as a political scientist may be a good fit for you. Think about your hobbies and what you enjoy doing in your spare time when you’re zeroing in on a career.
When choosing a program, it is important to ensure that students are often completing it; the higher the graduation rate for a college and program, the higher the likelihood that you will be able to complete the program too.
Pick an Accredited School
Hiring managers are becoming increasingly more likely to look favorably at online degrees, so you should not have difficulty gaining a job just because your degree was earned online. However, they do care if your degree was acquired at an accredited institution. Accreditation is done by a regional accrediting organization vetted by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA. You can also use the U.S. Department of Education’s search tool, DAPIP, to look for accredited programs nationwide. Accreditation ensures that your school is not a “diploma mill” but instead offers programs that adhere to the highest academic standards. Always choose an accredited school for your educational needs.