Six Degrees With Great Potential

degrees_with_great_potential

See which degrees could offer solid growth potential.

By Chris Kyle

Looking for a solid financial future?

While there are no guarantees in today's world, getting a degree that's known for security and good earning potential is what many people are seeking to do.

But how do you know which degree to pick? To determine our list of degrees with great potential, we took a look at job security data from various sources.

We also looked at PayScale's 2010-2011 College Salary Report, which analyzed over 100 college majors to see the average salary that's linked to each bachelor's degree.

The results are clear: some degrees have the potential to greatly outperform others.

[Click here to find the right degree program]

Read on for six degrees that could offer security and growth potential.

Degree #1 - Business

Average Starting Salary: $41,100*
Average Mid-Career Salary: $70,600*

Long considered the old reliable of college degrees, studying business could give you a firm foundation fit to weather any economic storm. [Search for Business schools and degree programs]

Job Security Signals: While the economy still has a way to go for a full recovery, lending to businesses rose from July through September 2010, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. More money for businesses could very well signal more job openings. For example, businesses with fewer than 500 employees have added 390,000 jobs in 2010, including 91,000 in November, according to Automatic Data Processing's National Employment Report.

Related Careers and Average Salaries:*
PR Specialist: $51,280
Market Research Analyst: $61,070
Management Analyst: $73,570

[Find local and online Business schools now]

Degree #2 - Paralegal Studies

Average Starting Salary: $35,100*
Average Mid-Career Salary: $51,300*

Getting a paralegal studies degree is one potential way to enter the legal industry, one of our country's oldest and most secure professions. If you already have a bachelor's degree, a paralegal certificate program can be completed in as little as six months. [Search for Paralegal schools and degree programs]

Job Security Signals: Confidence is sky-high for paralegals right now, thanks to a 28 percent growth in employment opportunities through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Related Careers and Average Salaries:*
Legal Assistant: $46,120
Insurance Carrier Paralegal: $52,200
Federal Executive Branch Paralegal: $58,540

[Find Paralegal schools near you now]

Degree #3 - Health Care Administration

Average Starting Salary: $35,600*
Average Mid-Career Salary: $58,000*

If you want to start a career in a stable, secure industry, consider the health care industry. [Search for Health Care Administration schools and degree programs]

Job Security Signals: The health care industry boasts 10 of the 20 fastest growing jobs, according to the Department of Labor. U.S. News & World Report's list of Best Careers for 2011 is also flooded with health care jobs. Due to our aging population, health care's long-term outlook seems strong and secure.

Related Careers and Average Salaries:*
Hospital Secretary: $14.21/per hour
Insurance Underwriter: $56,790
Health Services Manager: $80,240

[Find Health Care schools now]

Degree #4 - Criminal Justice

Average Starting Salary: $35,600*
Average Mid-Career Salary: $58,000*

If there is one thing you can count on, it's that America's criminal justice system will keep humming along, no matter the economic climate. [Search for Criminal Justice schools and degree programs]

Job Security Signals: Studying criminal justice seems like it could be a safe bet, since employment opportunities for police officers will rise 10 percent through 2018, according to the Department of Labor, and those who "lose their jobs because of budget cuts usually have little difficulty finding jobs with other agencies."

Meanwhile, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are projected to see a 19 percent bump in employment opportunities through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

Related Careers and Average Salaries:*
Police Officer: $51,410
Federal Correctional Officer: $53,459
Detective Supervisor: $75,490

[Search for Criminal Justice degrees]

Degree #5 - MBA

Average Starting Salary: $78,820*
Average Mid-Career Salary: $97,091*

Getting an MBA is a common-sense strategy to get ahead in an increasingly complex business world. [Search for MBA schools and degree programs]

Job Security Signals: More education could mean more opportunities. Getting an MBA degree could help you move into management - and fatten your paycheck potential. In a December 2010 article about the value of an MBA, BusinessWeek called it a "near-certain ticket to instant riches."

Related Careers and Average Salaries:*
General Manager: $91,570
Financial Manager: $99,330
Software Manager: $126,840

[Search for MBA programs near you or online]

Degree #6 - Information Systems

Average Starting Salary: $49,300*
Average Mid-Career Salary: $87,100*

Companies are increasingly relying on information systems to gather data and communicate internally and externally. [Search for Information Systems schools and degree programs]

Job Security Signals: According to a November 2010 report in the Vancouver Sun, "outside of health sciences, the biggest employment niche is for computer and information systems professionals." The Department of Labor has a similarly sunny forecast. The federal agency forecasts a 17 percent surge in jobs for information systems managers through 2018.

Related Careers and Average Salaries:*
Computer Systems Administrator: $66,310
Network Systems Analysts: $71,100
Information Systems Manager: $112,210

[Find Technology schools now]

* All salary data for degrees comes from PayScale, except starting salary for MBA grads, which comes from a 2010 study by the Graduate Management Admission Council. Career salary information comes from 2008 data gathered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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