Ideally, your job should be fulfilling. You may get a feeling of satisfaction when you overcome challenges and produce good work. Your drive may also come from the desire to advance your career through promotions. If your work no longer challenges and interests you, or you don’t feel as though you have a chance to climb much higher on the career ladder, some formal education may help.
Online degree programs and trade schools are increasingly common—and there may be a web-based solution out there that can get you where you want to go. In fact, enrolling in an online education program may be the best career move you can make.
It can increase your earning potential.
Education doesn’t guarantee a higher salary, but your chances are better when you are more educated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median weekly earnings for a high school graduate in 2013 were $651 (or $33,852 annually). The median weekly figure shoots up to $1,108 for individuals with a four-year degree, and to $1,714 for holders of a professional degree. That’s an annual income of $57,616 and $89,128, respectively. Earning a degree from an online program can increase your chances of hitting those wages.
It lowers your chances of being unemployed.
Having a job is the top goal in an uncertain economy, and unemployment rates drop as educational attainment increases. Take a look at the following levels of education and the corresponding rates of unemployment from 2013, as reported by the BLS:
- High school diploma: 7.5%
- Associate’s degree: 5.4%
- Bachelor’s degree: 4.0%
- Master’s degree: 3.4%
- Professional degree: 2.3%
Jobs may not only pay better, but may also be more pleasant and varied when you are better educated.
It can be more practical than face-to-face learning.
Even if a traditional program on a brick and mortar campus has the same graduation requirements as an online program, the online program may be less expensive and may require less time to complete. This lets you apply your new skill set sooner, without being in so much debt. Here are some of the reasons why online learning can be more practical:
- You don’t need to pay for overhead costs, such as building maintenance and groundskeeping.
- You don’t need to pay for transportation, food, and other miscellaneous costs.
- You don’t need to delay coursework and graduation because of scheduling conflicts.
You can keep working.
Money can be an enormous barrier to your back-to-school goals. Most people just can’t afford to stop working. If you’ll enroll in an online program, you won’t need to quit working. In many programs, you can attend class whenever and wherever you want—so you can keep earning your regular salary. Plus, going back to school won’t make you lose the ground you’ve worked so hard to gain in your career. You’ll still be part of the company.
It helps your networking efforts.
Networking can be tough when you work each day with the same people and on similar tasks. You might not get many opportunities to meet the people who can propel your career forward. Online education lets you virtually meet all kinds of people who are just as invested in the field as you are.
Your classmates may be people like you, who are dedicated to the field and who already have careers. You can also count your instructors as members of your professional network, and they may have ideas for career directions and other contacts. Finally, you can get exposed to guest speakers and professional organizations that you might not otherwise have known about.
Enrolling in an educational program is a big commitment, but the payoff can be bigger. An online program lets you keep working while you gain knowledge and skills—and it just may be the right career move for you!