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Distance learning degrees are great ways to advance education. And you might be surprised by the benefits of advancing your education. Recently, the topic has extended beyond educational publications and into the mainstream.

Benefits of Higher Education

The September 21, 2010 Huffington Post article, "A College Degree Pays Off -- And Then Some," cited a College Board's 2010 report as evidence of the extensive ways higher education can improve our lives and our societies. According to the College Board, higher education can improve:

  • salaries
  • job satisfaction
  • health
  • parenting skills

In addition, those who earned higher degrees tended to smoke less, vote more, and volunteer more time for good causes. As to salary, a 2009 U.S. Department of Labor publication provided a direct link between degree level and median weekly salary:

  • High school graduate: $626
  • Associate's degree: $761
  • Bachelor's degree: $1,025
  • Master's degree: $1,257
  • Professional degree: $1,529

Distance learning degrees are great options for those who want to keep their current jobs, or simply want to attend school around their own schedules.

5 Popular Distance Learning Degrees

If you can't decide which path to follow, consider these 5 popular options for distance learning degrees.

Many people have a general interest in improving peoples' lives. But practical incentives weigh in, too. Across the nation, healthcare is among the top-hiring professions. Take nurses, for instance. Jobs for Registered Nurses (RNs) are anticipated to grow by 22 percent, or nearly 600,000 employees, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And with a median 2009 salary of $63,750, financial incentive is there. Comparably, Licensed Practical/Vocational nurses (LPN/LVN) earned a median $39,820 in 2009. A bachelor's degree is generally required to be an RN.

From associate's to bachelor's to MBAs, business distance learning degrees are popular. Many business students keep their current jobs while earning distance learning degrees. Advancing your business education can help you potentially advance to jobs with more authority and higher pay. For example, in 2009 administrative assistants earned a median $41,650, while chief executives' median salary was $104,450, says the BLS.

No matter the state of the economy, the nation always needs teachers. To become certified, you'll need to earn an education degree and complete student-teaching. New hybrid distance learning degree programs (which combine online classes with on-site training) are perfect for education. The BLS projects that another 468,600 new teacher jobs will be added nationwide between 2008 and 2018. In 2009, median salaries for teachers were over $53,000.

The BLS predicts that over 178,000 more engineering jobs will be added in the U.S. between 2008 and 2018. Specifically, the areas of engineering that should experience the biggest growth include:

  • Biomedical engineers (anticipated 72 percent growth)
  • Environmental engineers (anticipated 31 percent growth)
  • Petroleum engineers (anticipated 18 percent growth)

Salaries are very good for engineers: approximately $90,000 median in 2009.

Computers Network Administrators/IT
Distance learning degrees make great sense when you're studying computer networks/information technology. Even if you were on campus, you'd likely spend most of your time at a computer. The BLS anticipates excellent job prospects for these professionals, with an expected 30 percent growth in jobs between 2008 and 2018. 2009 median salaries were between $67,000 and $77,000.

Whatever your professional and intellectual goals, there is probably a distance learning degree for you.

Candice Mancini


Top Executives • Dec 17, 2009 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos012.htm#oes_links • BLS

Teachers in Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle, and Secondary • Dec 17, 2009 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos318.htm • BLS

Registered Nurses • Dec 17, 2009 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos083.htm#outlook • BLS

Engineers • Dec 17, 2009 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm • BLS

Sandy Baum, et. al. • Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society • Nov 16, 2010 • http://trends.collegeboard.org • http://trends.collegeboard.org/downloads/Education_Pays_2010.pdf • The College Board

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants • Dec 17, 2009 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos151.htm#earnings • BLS

A College Degree Pays Off -- And Then Some • http://www.huffingtonpost.com • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/21/college-degrees-pay-off-r_n_732823.html • The Huffington Post

Computer Network, Systems, and Database Administrators • Dec 17, 2009 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos305.htm • BLS

Education Pays • May 27, 2010 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm • BLS

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses • Dec 17, 2009 • http://www.bls.gov • http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos102.htm#emply • BLS

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