What's the Best Online Degree to Get? Here are 30 with Good Earning Potential
If you're going to spend the time and money to earn your degree online, you probably want to make sure that your investment in your education is going to pay off. That's a smart impulse, especially if you need to take out student loans to finance your education.
Thankfully, with so many reputable online degree programs available these days, there are plenty of careers to choose from that will help you build a solid financial future. Here, we present 30 degrees that can be earned entirely or mostly online - and each of the following has the potential for a bright future.
All salaries listed below are the median salary reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary is what a job candidate may reasonably expect to make after achieving achieving relevant work experience and licenses, if necessary. In general, most people will not earn the median salary until after several years in the workforce.
Note that some of these jobs may require minimal on-site attendance for certain classes, such as labs and practicums.
1. Database administrator
This is a fast-growing field, with forecasts of 11% growth over the next seven years. Database administrators (often called DBAs) specialize in storing, retrieving, and organizing complex sets of information. Often DBAs will handle financial information or customer records. They ensure that the appropriate people are given access to data, as well as safeguarding the information from unauthorized usage.
2. Network and computer systems administrator
This is a particularly exciting job category, as computer networks continually expand with new on-site and mobile technology. A network and computer systems administrator oversees the daily operation of a company's digital systems.
This field is expected to grow by 8% in the next few years.
Have you ever heard of this job title before? If not, you're not alone. But logisticians do interesting work and can be found in nearly every industry, from retail to aerospace.
Logisticians ensure the sourcing, distribution and delivery of products. This can be a challenging job, as supply chains are affected by transportation issues, climate events, and supplier difficulties. However, the work is fast-paced and can be engaging for the right personality type.
4. Technical writer
While many writing jobs are creative, technical writing calls for a different skill set. Technical writers need to be precise and detail-oriented, as their main job duties consist of writing how-to manuals, technical specifications, and articles.
Most technical writers work in technology, engineering, or pharmaceuticals.
5. Purchasing manager, buyer, purchasing agent
Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents.
While this field may shrink slightly as some operations become automated, job prospects are not expected to decline in a significant way for the next few years.
6. Labor relations specialist
Labor relations specialists generally work with unions, interpreting and administering labor contracts. They have expertise in areas such as wages and salaries, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.
Applicable bachelor's degrees include labor relations, human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field.
7. Emergency management director
If you thrive on unpredictability, emergency management might the job for you. Emergency management directors generally need a bachelor's degree, as well as several years of on-the-job experience.
In this job, you'll work with a public entity, like a school or government agency, or with a private business. You'll plan for weather emergencies, natural disasters, fires, terrorist attacks, and a variety of other scenarios. Learning to expect—and plan for—the unexpected is a key component of this job, as you'll be charged with minimizing damage to people and premises.
$64,430 per year
Cartographers create and update maps. Similarly, photogrammetrists make reliable measurements through surveying, photographs, and aerial photographs. This info may be used by the government, the military, or private entities. Work may be done in an office, on-site, or a variety of the two.
These fields are expected to see a 29% increase by 2016.
9. Conservation scientist and forester
Outdoorsy people may want to consider the field of conservation scientist and forestry. People who work in this industry manage the overall land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources. They are generally employed by the government, private land owners, or activist groups.
Job growth is expected to reach a 6% increase by 2026. The continued need for wildfire prevention and suppression services, as well as consumer desire for wood pellets, will help drive demand for conservation scientists and foresters.
10. Environmental scientist/specialist
People in these positions work to protect the environment and human health. They may directly work to clean up polluted areas or they may work on initiatives to reduce waste and pollution in the future. Many also act as advisers to government officials or industry.
These scientists may work on-site, in an office, or in a laboratory. Gathering, monitoring, and interpreting data is a key function of the job.
Because of population growth and increase interest in environmental concerns, this is fast-growing field. Demand for people in this job is expected to grow by 11% by 2016.
11. Social worker
Growth in this field is expected to be a booming 16% by 2026. Social workers diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including emotional, behavioral, and mental health. They may work in private practices, clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, or hospitals.
Many jobs in this field require a bachelor's degree, but clinical social workers must have a master’s degree, relevant experience, and a state license.
Accountants are people who prepare financial records for businesses and individuals. They also examine financial records for accuracy and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time. Jobs in the accounting sector are expected to grow by 11% by 2024. The BLS ranks that as much faster than the average growth for all job fields.
When majoring in accounting, you can expect to study basic accounting concepts, auditing, math, taxation, and economics. A good understanding of basic business concepts is also necessary. Accounting students also need to learn transferable skills that can be helpful in a number of industries, including applying creative solutions to complex problems, working in teams, and being extremely detail oriented.
13. Market research analyst
Demand for this position is supposed to increase by a whopping 23% from now until 2026. Plus, market research analysts work in nearly every industry, making this an extremely promising career path. In this position, analysts evaluate market trends and make predictions and recommendations about future initiatives.
People who do well in this job have strong math skills and don't mind working under pressure.
14. Training and development specialist
If you consider yourself a "people person," this may be the job for you. People in this position help employees improve their skills, work habits, and knowledge via specialized training programs.
The training and development specialist may plan, conduct, or administer the training. However, the expected trajectory of this field is that more training will be offered online. Individuals who can develop expertise in web-based or mobile training are expected to be in particular demand.
15. Interior designer
Having an eye for style is only the beginning of what interior designers need to be successful. What many people may not realize is that interior designers also need to be aware of the functionality, accessibility, and safety of the spaces they design. Studying interior design includes learning how to read blueprints, interpret building codes, and meet building regulations.
16. Meeting, convention, and event planner
Meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate all aspects of events, conventions, and professional meetings. Prior to an event, they may need to scout locations, determine event requirements for presentations, power and tech requirements, and guest accommodations and transportation. They are often on-site during events to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
17. Multimedia artist/animator
If you hope to get into the field of multimedia art, your bachelor's program will cover two main things: artistic concepts and computer skills needed to create art for various mediums, including TV, movies, video games, and websites. After graduation, you may work for a company, or you may elect to work as a self-employed contractor.
18. Public relations specialist
Public relations, often referred to as "earned media," is the art of helping a corporation, individual, or other entity, create awareness or a favorable image. This may be achieved through press coverage, social media, or special events.
People who work in public relations need to be outgoing, strong multi-taskers, and excellent writers.
19. Film and video editor
Media-streaming services are boosting demand for people with film and video editing skills. This job category is expected to increase by 13% by 2026.
20. Bank loan officer
The job market for experienced bank loan officers is expected to expand by 11% by 2026, which is a very fast rate of growth compared to the rest of the employment landscape.
Loan officers work at banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies. They evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses.
In addition to a bachelor's degree, loan officer generally require some on-the-job training. Mortgage officers will require additional licensing.
21. Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators aren't lawyers, but still work within the legal world within state or local governments. They help facilitate negotiation and dialogue between disputing parties to help resolve conflicts outside of the court system.
Job growth is expected to increase faster than other occupations by 2026. The BLS reports that this is because mediations and arbitrations are typically faster and less costly than litigation and may be required in certain types of legal cases.
Heath, Medical, and Wellness
22. Dietitian and Nutritionist
This is one of the fastest-growing fields on our list, expected to reach an increase of 15% by 2016. This is due to an aging population and the increase of diseases such as diabetes, that depend on nutrition management as part of treatment. In addition, the general trend is toward healthier eating within the general population.
Dietitians and nutritionists may require state licensing.
23. Medical Laboratory Technologist or Technician
Medical laboratory technologists and technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances. They may work in hospitals, labs, or doctors' offices.
As with most other healthcare-related job, prospects for people in this job category are excellent, with expected growth of 13% by 2016.
24. Recreational Therapist
Here's yet another job that's expected to see growth thanks to the aging Baby Boomer generation. Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. This may include therapies based on arts and crafts, theater games, sports, and outings with the goal of stimulating social, and emotional well-being.
Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require therapists to be certified.
25. Athletic Trainer
This field is expected to grow 23% by 2026, which is extremely fast compared to other fields. Reason: As more older Americans begin to age, they'll need help bouncing back from age-related injuries so they can remain active.
Athletic trainers don't just work with high-performance athletes. Rather, they help prevent and treat muscle and bone injuries and illnesses.
26. Health Education and Community Health Worker
Community health workers generally specialize in meeting the health needs of a specific community. They offer guidance and support in maintaining the health of the population through diet and exercise, disease management, and other health initiatives. They may work at hospitals, doctors' offices, or clinics.
Need for people in this position is expected to grow 13% by 2026.
27. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
With constant news about the opioid epidemic, it's probably no surprise that this field is expected to grow by 23% by 2026.
People in this position counsel and treat individuals who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, and mental health issues.
28. Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers must be skilled in teaching students with a wide array of learning challenges, including cognitive, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.
In addition to earning a degree, teachers must be certified by the state.
29. Career and Technical Educator
People in this job provide instruction for students who plan on starting careers in a trade, such as auto repair, plumbing, or culinary arts. Technical educators may work at vo-tech schools, post-secondary career schools, or two-year colleges.
State certification may be required.
30. Preschool Director
Preschool and childcare center directors oversee all aspects of running and managing a childcare facility. That includes hiring and supervising staff, and handling budgeting and other financial issues.
If you're unsure about going to college online, check out our post on 8 Reasons Why Online Education is Better than Traditional.