TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The economic recovery is gaining strength. Reports released in late July show that consumers, governments and various business sectors all purchased more in the second quarter of 2010. "That's a good sign," notes Donald Marron, Director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and contributor to the financial website Seeking Alpha. "Indeed, you have to go back more than five years, to the first quarter of 2005, for the last time that happened."
But what is the best way to take advantage of the improving economy? For most people, getting an education is the key. Professions such as healthcare, human resources and information technology are in high demand, hiring more and more workers even as traditional American jobs like manufacturing have disappeared. But to enter these fields, earning a bachelor's degree is required.
Here are three reasons to do exactly that:
1) Income. Data from Payscale.com indicates that the median annual salaries for those who hold a bachelor's degree in an in-demand field can be exceptional. A BS in Human Resources Management can bring an annual salary of over $61,000, while a BSIT in Software Engineering often means earnings of more than $93,000 per year. Other bachelor's degrees, such as a BS in Physician Assisting, BBA in Project Management and BSIT in Project Management, typically bring an annual salary in the $75,000 to $85,000 range.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that overall, a bachelor's degree holder usually earns almost $20,000 more per year than someone with only a high school diploma. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income over a working lifetime -- well worth the investment in a bachelor's degree!
2) Job Security. In the wake of the recent recession, no one needs to be told about the importance of job security. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that when the unemployment rate reached 10% in the final quarter of 2009, the jobless rate for those holding a bachelor's degree or higher was 5% -- just half the national average. This means that completing a bachelor's program can make graduates significantly less likely to experience unemployment when times are tough.
3) Benefits. Degreed professionals typically have access to medical and dental insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation time, sick leave, maternity leave and many other benefits. Jobs that require less education usually offer fewer perks -- if they offer any at all. Earning a bachelor's degree can also help graduates negotiate for better benefits when starting a new job; for example, having more education and experience may let them bargain for additional vacation time when moving from one company to another.
So what is the best way to start earning a bachelor's degree? First, students should make sure that any school they're considering is regionally accredited. Holding regional accreditation -- the highest form of accreditation a college or university can obtain -- means that the school meets the standards of the U.S. Department of Education, and that credits earned there can transfer to other regionally accredited institutions.
Next, students should decide whether they want to attend on-campus or online classes. Studying at a traditional campus-based college typically provides access to a wider variety of degree programs, and allows participation in extracurricular activities like sports and clubs. Attending college online provides greater flexibility because students can set the pace at which they watch lectures and complete assignments -- usually a critical consideration for working adults. It is important to note that even on-campus degree programs now often include one or more classes that are taught online, so students studying at campus-based schools can still expect to participate in distance learning.
Finally, students have to find the perfect school. U.S. News & World Report, America's most trusted source of college rankings, has released Best Colleges 2011. This critical resource is the best place to start looking colleges and universities. The 2011 rankings are also available at http://www.USNewsUniversityDirectory.com, where students can use a variety of powerful tools and resources to search schools online.
If the economic troubles of the past few years have taught us anything, it's that get-rich-quick schemes are no substitute for knowledge and achievement. Education is the best way to attain the kind of success that lasts a lifetime. With these tips, starting on a bachelor's degree can be an easy and straightforward process. Students who follow them can soon be on the path to the lucrative, secure and rewarding career they deserve!
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