Whether you’re preparing to go to college for the first time or thinking of going back to school, you may be wondering exactly what kind of degree you should pursue. While individual interests vary, there are degree programs that may hold the key to improved job security and higher pay after graduation. It’s estimated college-educated workers who hold a bachelor’s degree earn annual median earnings of 36%, or 84% higher than individuals with a high school diploma.
As you consider what your starting salary and opportunities for growth will be within a career field, it's important to also remember to pursue a role that aligns with your passions, talents, lifestyle, and long-term goals. Let your strengths guide you in choosing the right degree program for you. Other critical aspects to keep in mind while researching your future career field include its typical work environments, daily responsibilities, work-life balance, and projected future job security. Explore the lucrative degree programs listed below to discover your best educational path to a rewarding, fulfilling career.
1. Business Administration Degree
Average Salary: $65,000
Business administration graduates can expect to be involved in overseeing the business operations, finance, management, and processes of an organization. This is a highly flexible degree that can allow graduates to work in a variety of different business roles, industries, and environments. A business administration degree prepares individuals to take on the complex challenges associated with business and leverage the knowledge and skills learned to implement best practices and solutions. A business administration background offers opportunities to work in a range of settings including finance, sales, human resources, or operations departments across industries including healthcare, government, nonprofit, and other exciting sectors. Career paths with a business administration degree vary, and according to the BLS, average salary for those with this degree may expect to earn at least $65,000.
2. Data Analytics Degree
Average Salary: $65,812
A data analytics degree is an ideal option for individuals looking to enhance their skill set for careers in fields such as data science and analytics, data mining, machine learning, data management, and database applications. Data analysts gather and survey data using specialized tools to gather information used to help others make decisions. Data analysts can expect to assume a range of responsibilities including identifying data sources, collecting data, gathering missing data, and organizing data to a usable format. As the BLS projects 36% growth from 2021 to 2031, with data analysts earning an average salary of $65,812 per year.
3. Learning Experience Design and Educational Technology Degree
Average Salary: $69,318
A learning experience design and educational technology degree gives individuals opportunities to capitalize on a range of skills and strengths. These may include learner empathy, design thinking, gaming design, cognitive psychology, experiential learning, user experience or UX, graphic design, and instructional design in order to create a valuable and holistic learning experience. Learning designers are instrumental in designing curriculum and are critical to the implementation of vital resources used to guide students through the learning process. As a learning designer, you can expect to make a significant impact in creating accessible curriculum based on research and theory. According to the BLS, a learning designer can expect to earn an average salary of $69,318 per year.
4. Accounting Degree
Average Salary: $70,000
Accounting is a well-established and important field that impacts nearly every business and individual. Organizations always need help with their finances and taxes, and as financial regulations and laws continue to change, the demand for accounting professionals will only grow. Accountants work to run audits on organizations, help with taxes, and maintain the finances of a company. A degree in accounting can lead to any number of finance positions. The average salary for accountants is $70,000 per year, but this can vary greatly based on where you work and the type of role you end up in.
5. Nursing Degree
Average Salary: $71,000
Nursing is an indispensable profession that can be challenging but rewarding. In addition to working in hospitals and clinical settings, a degree in nursing can also help you jump-start into more specialized healthcare career fields like nursing informatics or nursing education. While not the highest paying college major, nursing salaries are rising and offer room for growth. When comparing colleges, be sure you learn about accreditations, clinical experience, and job placement following graduation, so you know exactly what kinds of things you'll learn in the program. The BLS shows that nurses earn an average salary of around $71,000 per year. Due to a shortage of nurses, demand is high for professionals in this field, and a degree in nursing can be the gateway to many job offers and opportunities.
6. Business Management Degree
Average Salary: $79,828
For professionals looking to become better managers and more confident leaders, a business management degree offers a great foundation to excel in these areas. As a business manager, you’ll help oversee a company's activities in pursuit of achieving their financial goals. Helping employees maintain productivity levels is an important role assumed by a business manager, as well as overseeing the day-to-day activities of employees, new hires, trainees, and evaluating prospective employees to fill roles within the company. Providing a pivotal role in the structure and organization of a company, a business manager reports to top-level executives or to company owners in many instances. Within this consistent, desirable career, business managers can expect an average salary of $79,828 per year, according to the BLS.
7. Curriculum and Instruction Degree
Average Salary: $82,779
Individuals with a strong interest in learning and helping students reach their potential can explore a curriculum and instruction degree . A person with this degree plays a critical role in shaping the futures of students and teachers alike. This degree is designed for certified teachers seeking to increase their pedagogical content knowledge. A curriculum and instruction degree offers individuals an exciting career path that is both in-demand and rewarding. Curriculum, or the material taught in schools, and instruction, or the delivery and learning of knowledge or an acquired skill, are the foundation of education and help improve outcomes for students. Directors of curriculum and instruction earn an annual salary of $82,779, according to the BLS.
8. Nursing Leadership and Management Degree
Average Salary: $83,180
A nursing leadership and management degree leads to a dynamic and rewarding career role designed to help organizations succeed and bring out the best in colleagues while executing processes and procedures effectively. As a nurse leader acting as a nurse mentor, you’ll be able to help others reach their goals while making a positive impact within healthcare. Both nurse managers and nurse leaders provide top-quality care in an efficient and meaningful way. The distinction between the two, however, is that nurse leaders assume a more hands-on approach to patient care, while nurse managers provide behind-the-scenes support on daily operations. Those pursuing a nursing leadership and management degree may expect to earn an average salary of $83,180 per year, according to the BLS.
9. Nursing Informatics Degree
Average Salary: $92,195
A nursing informatics degree offers the opportunity to maximize the value of data in the decision-making process. Nursing informatics promotes the health of people, families, and communities, and is an exciting and challenging career to explore. Using the science and practice of integrating nursing with its information and knowledge, along with information and communication technologies, nursing informatics is a dynamic and evolving career path. Nurse informatic specialists apply their expertise and knowledge to become health tech innovators who establish businesses, manage medical economics, create technology, and amplify the voice of end-user clinicians. The BLS reports an average salary of $92,195 per year for informatics RNs and a positive outlook for career growth. Roles in nursing informatics include nurse informaticist, nursing informatics specialist, nursing informatics clinician, clinical nurse informatics specialist, chief nursing informatics officer, and perioperative informatics nurse.
10. Cybersecurity Degree
Average Salary: $98,000
As technology and business continue to intertwine, more organizations will require sophisticated and effective security measures to keep their data and information safe. Cybersecurity experts work to protect networks, systems, and data for technology companies and businesses alike. Every industry, from the government to healthcare, needs cybersecurity to keep data secure. Cybersecurity positions are often given to candidates with experience in other areas of IT, so it's important to be prepared to work your way up in this exciting technology field, which is expected to expand by 35% from 2021 to 2031. The average salary of cybersecurity experts is more than $98,000 per year, according to the BLS.
11. Healthcare Management Degree
Average Salary: $99,000
Healthcare managersare a crucial part of health organizations as they oversee the business activities of healthcare providers and facilities. Healthcare is continually growing and expanding, and as technology evolves, the need for healthcare managers will only rise. This degree utilizes business and healthcare fundamentals to help you be prepared for a future working on the business side of healthcare. TheBLSpredicts that the need for this job will grow by 28% from 2021 to 2031. The average salary for healthcare managers is over $99,000 per year, making it a highly lucrative and sought-after position.
12. Health Information Management Degree
Average Salary: $99,000
Health information management, also called health informatics, is the practice of analyzing healthcare data and using it to improve facility operations and processes. Health information managers are also charged to protect private patient data and improve the quality of patient care. Math education is key in helping you prepare for this kind of position. IT and healthcare come together in this field as well, and a background in and understanding of both are key to success. Technicians and specialists earn an average salary of $40,000 per year, while health information managers can earn an annual salary of over $99,000 per year, according to the BLS.
13. Cloud Computing Degree
Average Salary: $106,982
Individuals pursuing acloud computing degreemay expect to enter an in-demand career field that is both fulfilling and rewarding based, in part, on the emerging and evolving tech space. As businesses of all sizes move their operations and data to cloud storage, greater opportunities exist for those looking to gain hands-on, real-world experience. Cloud computing roles vary and include cloud administrator, cloud security analyst, cloud network engineer, and cloud automation engineer. Key responsibilities within cloud computing include managing the end-to-end lifecycle of a cloud environment as well as designing applications for the cloud. Additional skills include planning the cloud architecture, adapting security measures, provisioning resources, and maintaining cloud components. Cloud computing professionals in this exciting and dynamic field may earn an average annual salary of$106,982, based on the latest BLS figures.
14. Network Engineering and Security Degree
Average Salary: $107,833
Anetwork engineering and security degreeintroduces individuals to in-demand careers, including as a systems security and network engineer, in highly rewarding environments. Jobs such as these play a critical role in managing an organization’s computer networks to ensure their security and reliability. Network security engineers use their skill set to protect systems from cyber threats, including identifying bugs, malware, and hacking attempts. Responsibilities for the role include assessing technical components through processes that include identifying, monitoring, and defining the requirements of a system’s integrity. Network security engineers create ways to solve existing and potential threats, address security issues, configure and implement intrusion detection systems, and reinforce firewalls. Systems security and network engineers can anticipate a strong jobs outlook along with a promising income. The BLS indicates that these professionals earn an average of$107,833 per year.
15. Software Development Degree
Average Salary: $109,020
Software developers can expect to consistently be in demand, receive high salaries, and have the opportunity to work remotely. Asoftware development degreeoffers you the chance to create and test software from conception to completion in a highly dynamic environment. As a software developer, you will also learn to familiarize yourself with discussions and analysis of user requests and requirements to research and brainstorm practical solutions to meet clients' needs. In doing so, you’ll determine the best course of action to create the application. Whether you’re interested in using your skill set for a large corporation or a small startup, or if your career goals include working as an independent freelancer, software developers enjoy flexibility in terms of possible work environments. Software developers earn an average of$109,020 per year, according to the BLS, but figures may increase based on geographic location.
16. Education Leadership Degree
Average Salary: $113,466
Individuals passionate about contributing to student success will find aneducational leadership degreeto be a valuable resource in these pursuits. If your career goals include taking on leadership roles (as a high school principal, for example), your work will lead toward changing the future of education and impacting the lives of students, teachers, and communities. Educational leadership pursuits ensure academic success through process, material, and training improvements. Your contributions as an educational leader would create learning environments where individuals thrive and are put on the path to success. According to the latest BLS data, school principals can expect to earn an average salary of$113,466.
17. Computer Science Degree
Average Salary: $118,000
Computer sciencedegrees teach students about the processes of computer systems and programs, with a focus on software. Students solve computing problems, invent new computer languages and tools, improve software systems, design experiments to test those systems, and more. Like other majors that require mathematics, computer science graduates can expect good-paying jobs after graduation. Computer and information research scientists earn an average yearly salary of $118,000, according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
18. Human Resource Management Degree
Average Salary: $121,000
Human resource managersare tasked with supporting and helping members of an organization. They are usually in charge of recruiting, hiring and firing, benefits, team building, conflict resolution, and more. Human resource pay can vary greatly based on where you're located. According to theBLS,human resource specialists earn an average annual salary of $60,000. However, compensation and benefits managers earn an average salary of around $121,000 per year. Both roles offer plenty of room to grow and increase your salary potential.
19. Information Technology Degree
Average Salary: $131,490
Information technologyis the study of using computers to store, transmit, and manipulate data and information. There is a high demand for IT professionals across nearly every industry and for numerous job titles. IT professionals analyze computer needs and recommend upgrades. They plan and direct the installation of hardware and software, work to increase security, learn about new technology, and manage other IT professionals. Earning an IT degree means you'll have a large focus on mathematics, and graduate with greater earning potential than other degrees. Many colleges offer highly specialized IT degrees, allowing you to choose the niche you prefer within the field to boost your pay opportunity. TheBLSexpects the demand for IT positions will grow by 15% from 2021 to 2031, and the average annual salary for an IT professional is over $131,490.
20. Marketing Degree
Average Salary: $132,000
Marketingis an exciting and lucrative field with a growing need for traditional and digital marketers alike. This means marketers can expect great job security and many opportunities for growth. With the right degree and time spent working your way up in the field, you can become a marketing manager, which offers higher salary options. In addition to great pay, individuals with a marketing degree have the flexibility to work from home, remote, or in an office setting. According to theBLS, marketing managers earn an average salary of around $132,000 per year.
The right education is key to helping you land your dream job and make money doing something you truly enjoy. However, regardless of the degree you choose, hiring managers always look more favorably upon individuals who hold at least a bachelor’s degree and can use their skill set and knowledge to take a company or organization to new heights. To get started on the path to one of these lucrative careers, consider earning a bachelor’s or master’sdegree from WGU. Our programs are designed by experts in the field to teach today’s most in-demand skills, so students gain the valuable knowledge they need to immediately stand out in a competitive job market. If you're considering a degree that will help you earn good money, WGU's respected online programs could be the perfect option. From its competency-based education approach to the flexibility to learn online and on your schedule, WGU is the right choice to pursue your higher education goals.
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