Are you thinking about going back to school, but wondering if a college degree is really worth the time and investment?
With student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion in late 2011, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency, we don't blame you.
However, statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor's March 2011 "Education Pays" report suggest that earning a college degree could significantly increase your earnings.
Bachelor's degree holders, for example, had weekly average earnings of $1053 in 2011, a good chunk of change when compared to the $638 average weekly earnings of people with only a high school diploma. That's a difference of $21,580 in one year.
If this potential for higher earnings intrigues you, then we have some degrees for you to consider. We took a look at potential careers, job growth opportunity, and earning potential to come up with this list of best degrees to invest in.
Keep reading to learn more...
Do you think of yourself as a people person? Are you someone who embraces the notion of working closely with others in a business environment?
On the education level, one such people-oriented degree with potential return-on-investment opportunities is a bachelor's degree in human resources.
"Human resources majors learn how to handle employment issues such as staffing, training, pay, and health and safety in the workplace," according to the College Board, an organization that administers academic aptitude tests like the SAT.
Potential Career: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bachelor's degree in human resources can prepare you to pursue work as a human resources manager. HR managers supervise employees of various ages, cultural backgrounds, and personalities, while working to enhance morale and productivity, limit job turnover, and help organizations increase performance and improve results.
- Job growth: Human resources managers and specialists are projected to grow 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.*
- Average annual salary: $108,600*
What do texting your best friend, shopping online, and watching your favorite TV drama on a mobile device have in common? None of them would be possible - or as convenient - without the advances made in the field of information technology (IT).
If you want to be a part of this increasingly tech-heavy world, earning a bachelor's degree in IT could be a step in the right direction.
"IT majors focus on how information and computing systems support business, research, and communications needs. Instruction ranges from the basics of computer hardware to the complex relationship between humans and computers," notes the College Board.
Potential Career: Armed with a bachelor's in IT, you could look into a variety of careers, including computer systems analysts - who develop, deliver, and maintain computer systems, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Analysts in this field often specialize in particular types of computer systems - such as business or scientific - and test them for issues.
- Job growth: Computer systems analysts are projected to have a job growth of 20 percent.*
- Average annual salary: $81,250*
Interested in a degree that could teach you how to help others, as well as prepare you for a career with ROI (return on investment) potential? An associate's degree in nursing could fit the bill in plenty of ways.
By earning an associate's degree in nursing, "you'll learn about everything from examining patients and treating their immediate needs to keeping up the health of people with long-term conditions," notes the College Board.
Potential Career: By earning this degree and completing a national licensing examination, you could be prepared to pursue a career as aregistered nurse (RN), where you'll play a vital role in helping patients deal with injury or illness, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Job growth: RN jobs are projected to increase by 22 percent between 2008 and 2018.*
- Average annual salary: $67,720*
For people who enjoy mentoring others or envision themselves teaching in a classroom setting, a bachelor's in education program could be the right way to go in terms of getting a potential return on your investment.
"Education majors study how people learn and how to best teach them. Classes cover such topics as educational psychology, school health and safety issues, and the planning of classroom activities," according to the College Board.
Potential Career: A bachelor's degree from a teacher education program, plus a license, could help you prepare to pursue a career as a teacher, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. Teachers play a crucial role in the academic and personal development of students. They offer valuable guidance, knowledge, and coaching that can help shape the lives of others.
- Job growth: Kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teacher positions are projected to grow by 13 percent between 2008 and 2018.*
- Average annual salary: Elementary school teacher: $54,330, secondary school teacher: $55,990*
Variety is the spice of earning a master's degree in business administration (MBA), a program that could potentially help pay off your investment by giving you a wide range of career choices.
During an MBA program, some of the more common courses taken include business law, management, accounting, and finance. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a master's degree could help prepare you to pursue a career in the corporate sector, as well as positions involving the management and supervision of business operations.
Potential Career: An MBA can help arm you with the skills and tools you need to prepare to pursue a career as a marketing manager, according to the Department of Labor. Marketing managers deal heavily with promoting a firm or organization's products and services. They also develop pricing strategies, monitor trends, and oversee product development.
- Job growth: Marketing managers are projected to see a 12 percent job growth from 2008 to 2018.*
- Average annual salary: $122,720*
*Unless otherwise noted, all job growth and salary data come from the U.S. Department of Labor, May 2010 data. Average annual salaries are based upon median earnings.
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