Get A Degree During the Downturn


Getting a degree could shelter students from the economic downturn.

By Tony Moton    

Looking for ways to shelter your career and professional future during today's uncertain, stormy economic times? One of the best means of protection might be in a college degree.

Analysts with The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, a consortium of college professors and economists, say going to school could give students financial and professional protection.

"On average, the benefits of a four-year college degree are equivalent to an investment that returns 15.2 percent per year," says a June 2011 Hamilton Project report. "From any investment perspective, college is a great deal."

The report, titled "Where is the Best Place to Invest $102,000 - In Stocks, Bonds, or a College Degree?," concluded that a college degree can provide shelter from today's tough labor market much better than other traditional forms of investment.

Keep reading to learn more about five degrees that can potentially offer shelter from the economic storm.

Degree #1 - Bachelor's in Business

Getting a business degree during an economic downturn could help you stand out in the eyes of employers, according to findings from a "2010 Student Survey" by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

In fact, according to the NACE study, 45 percent of new business grads were likely to have received job offers before graduation in 2010.

Among the common areas of study in business programs are management, accounting, marketing, economics, and statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

Potential Career Options and Average Salaries:*
Accountant: $68,960
Financial analyst: $86,040
Actuary: $98,620

Find the Right Business Program Now

Degree #2 - Master's in Business Administration (MBA)

How can an MBA offer you shelter during a tough job market?

To start, the hiring of MBA grads has picked up after two down years, according to a report, with 57 percent of degree holders having a job offer several months before graduation, compared with 40 percent in 2010.

If you're still not convinced, Forbes points to job growth, including the replacement needs for workers leaving and retiring from their jobs, as one of the main reasons an MBA has the potential to protect your career investment.

Students in MBA programs become familiar with business practices by taking courses such as economics, corporate finance, and statistics.

Potential Career Options and Average Salaries:*
Budget analyst: $70,660
Management consultant: $87,260
Marketing manager: $122,720

Find the Right MBA Program Now

Degree #3 - Master's in Information Technology (IT)

No matter where you go, no matter what you do, chances are your life is somehow influenced or enhanced by ever-changing technology. Computers, cell phones, and social networks are just some of the things that rely on highly trained experts to make sure they operate effectively.

Earning a master's degree in IT can help you pursue a career as one of these highly trained experts and potentially shelter you during a tough job market. ranks IT as one of its "Best Master's Degrees For Jobs" in 2010 because the field has a projected employment increase of 29 percent over the next decade.

Master's programs prepare you with courses in marketing, electronic business, systems management, and design, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Potential Career Options and Average Salaries:*
Software developer: $90,410
Database administrator: $75,730
Computer systems analyst: $81,250

Find the Right IT Program Now

Degree #4 - Bachelor's in Accounting

During a tough job market, getting a degree that could lead to work in a high-demand field is a smart move. That's why you should consider earning a bachelor's degree in accounting.

Accountants and auditors are expected to enjoy 22 percent job growth between 2008 and 2018, according to the Department of Labor, making this sector favorable in terms of job protection.

Just ask former accounting majors, 47 percent of whom reported receiving job offers in advance of finishing school, according to NACE.

Accounting majors take courses that can prepare them for one or more of the field's major disciplines: public accounting, management accounting, government accounting, and internal auditing.

Potential Career Options and Average Salaries: *
Accountant: $68,960
Tax examiner: $54,830
Cost estimator: $62,060

Find the Right Accounting Program Now

Degree #5 - Bachelor's in Engineering

How does someone who enjoys working on math or science problems find shelter during tough times? The answer could be maximizing your problem-solving skills with a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Engineers, according to the Department of Labor, have an expected job growth of 11 percent from 2008 to 2018 - making this field a viable option if you're looking for job protection.

The three most common engineering concentrations are electrical/electronic, mechanical, and civil engineering.

Whichever area you choose, it's good to know that a bachelor's degree in engineering might give you an edge with potential employers. Some 41 percent of bachelor's degree graduates in this field said they received job offers before finishing school in 2010, the NACE survey reported.

Potential Career Options and Average Salaries:*
Civil engineer: $82,280
Industrial engineer: $78,450
Mechanical engineer: $82,480

Find the Right Engineering Program Now

*All average salary info is from the U.S. Department of Labor, May 2010 statistics.

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