(Photo: Getty Images)Not all educational degrees are created equal when it comes to finding a good job. While going back to school to earn a higher degree can be great for one's career, it can also cost a bundle of money. Many degrees ultimately pay off with increased opportunities and earning potential but some may not open that many doors. If you are contemplating going back to school for any degree--from a two-year associate's degree to a doctorate--it's prudent to do your research. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. BLS) provides a wealth of free and detailed information on which occupations are going to experience the most growth in the coming years and what the educational requirements for those jobs are.
We spoke with Teri Morisi, Manager of Occupational Outlook Studies at the U.S. BLS about five accessible, high-growth jobs that also provide a good salary.
From home health aides to surgeons, the entire healthcare industry is experiencing a surge in growth. Registered nurse tops the list of occupations with the most new jobs opening up over the next seven years. The job entails administering treatment, recording medical histories, and providing support to patients' families, usually in a hospital or other healthcare setting.Educational requirements: Entry level positions are available to candidates with a 2-3 year associates degree in nursing although a 4 year bachelor's degree can afford greater opportunities for advancement.
Average salary: $64,690
Accountants and auditors perform many important functions in both the public and private sectors. They analyze financial information for government bodies, companies, and individuals. Duties can be as varied as providing investment planning to the investigation of white-collar crimes to evaluating the financial performance of a given client.Educational requirements: Most entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) affords the opportunity to work for public companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and requires about 30 hours of coursework in addition to a bachelor's degree. The licensing exam is rigorous but the job outlook for CPAs is excellent.
Average salary: $61,690
Elementary School Teacher
The job prospects for elementary school teachers vary depending on location and specialty. High-demand fields such as bilingual education and math and science are experiencing the most growth, and job seekers will do best looking for work in either urban or rural settings.Educational requirements: Private schools generally require a bachelor's degree. Public school teachers need to be licensed. The requirements vary state to state. In general, prospective teachers need to do coursework in addition to a bachelor's degree and take a licensing exam. Nowadays, many states allow candidates to work in the classroom under the supervision of an experienced educator while completing necessary licensing requirements.
Average salary: $51,660
Management consulting is a competitive but lucrative and growing field. Companies hire experts to help them improve structure and efficiency. Some management analysts specialize in fields such as healthcare or technology. About 25 percent of management analysts are self-employed.Educational requirements: Entry-level positions usually require a bachelor's degree in a related field such as economics, business, or accounting. Individuals need to be self-motivated and possess excellent analytical skills. Most private companies require candidates to hold an M.B.A. degree
Average salary: $78,160
Computer Software Engineer
Computer software engineers develop software for all types of applications such as games, operating systems, business systems, etc. They use mathematical analysis and computer science to respond to the practical needs of their clients. They also construct and maintain computer systems for all types of organizations. Computer technology is still a booming sector, and according to the U.S. BLS, qualified job seekers in this field will have excellent prospects through 2018.Educational requirements: Entry-level positions may only require a 2-year associate's degree but most companies prefer a bachelor's degree in computer science or software engineering. Some jobs with the greatest opportunity for advancement may be looking for a 2-year master's degree.
Companies seek individuals who will keep up with the latest technology. There are many opportunities for computer software engineers to advance their skills and knowledge by obtaining voluntary certification in particular software systems or attending training seminars.Average salary: (systems) $94,180 and (applications) $87,790
Current information provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics covers the years 2008-2018. The studies for 2010-2020 will be published in the spring of 2012.