Personalize your DealNews Experience
- Create an Account or Login
- Select your Interests
- Toggle your Interests On/Off
It's really simple to set up. Create an account or log in to get started.
There's no denying it: A college degree can help you get a job that pays well. Still, to get to those good jobs, students have to shell out thousands. For the 2016-2017 school year, undergraduate costs for full-time students hit these numbers:
When you're spending that much money, you want to be sure you're getting a good return on your investment. That means taking the time to consider which jobs are in demand and the degrees that'll help you get them.
Let's look at the 15 college degrees that are most likely to pay off in the long run.
Most of the country's top-paying jobs require either additional schooling or experience that puts them out of reach for a recent graduate with a bachelor's degree. According to job site Glassdoor, the five best-paying jobs in America are physician, pharmacy manager, patent attorney, medical science liaison, and pharmacist.
Unfortunately, these roles all require more than just a bachelor's degree, which means more expenses. The $187,876 median salary for physicians sounds great, but to get there a student needs to pay for four years of medical school, and survive three or more years of residency and fellowship. Those seven extra years of schooling can easily tack an extra zero onto the end of your education expenses — which isn't what you want if you need to support yourself (and pay off student loans).
So when you're career shopping, consider these factors:
According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health care industry is growing fast. For the decade of 2014 to 2024, BLS estimates say four of the five fastest-growing jobs (occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, physical therapist aide, and home health aide) are in health care. While that means it would be easy to get one of these jobs, the best-paying jobs in health care require additional education — putting them beyond our desired four-year education budget.
However, you still have plenty of options for entry-level employment that pay well and should be in high demand. Some of these positions don't even require a traditional four-year bachelor's degree program, and instead look for a two-year associate degree, a two-year specialty training program, or both. Many health care roles will also require certification.
Here are 15 jobs that are expected to see serious growth by 2024 and offer a good median annual salary — all without requiring advanced education.
Bear in mind that job requirements can vary. While most of these occupations will only require four years of schooling (or less), some employers may want more.
As you might notice from the list above, the degrees that get you the best bang for your buck are quite varied — and you can get into some jobs with a variety of degree programs. Here are the educational paths that can lead you to the jobs above.
Electrical engineering for electrician (though four-year apprenticeship programs may also suffice). This can also qualify you for a number of positions in technical fields, such as a telecommunications equipment installer.
Hearing instrument specialist for hearing aid specialist. There are some bachelor's programs, too.
Occupational therapy assistant for occupational therapy assistant, obviously.
Physical therapy assistant for physical therapist assistant.
Ultrasound or diagnostic medical sonography for diagnostic medical sonographer.
Wind energy technology for wind turbine service technician.
Accounting for financial advisor. This can also qualify you for a number of accounting jobs, though entry-level positions do not always pay well.
Biology for forensic science technician. This can also qualify you for several positions in health care or the sciences, though the best-paying health care jobs often require specialty training.
Business for work as a financial advisor. This can also qualify you for a wide range of business positions, like management analyst (which pays a median salary of $81,330 per year).
Chemistry for forensic science technician. This can also qualify you for a number of science jobs, like chemist and lab technician.
Computer science for computer systems analyst, operations research analyst, software developer, or web developer.
Foreign language for translator. Note that not all jobs will require a degree, as long as you're fluent.
Mathematics for operations research analyst or market research analyst. This can also qualify you for a wide range of positions in everything from economics to computer science.
Physical science for cartographer. However more specialist degrees are also available.
Statistics for market research analyst. This can also qualify you for a range of positions for analysts and statisticians across a variety of industries.
Readers, what other degrees do you think provide a great return on investment? If you have one of these degrees, do you think it's given you a good bang for your buck? Let us know in the comments below!