(BPT) – In early January 2014, 21 percent of American workers said they planned to change jobs within the next 12 months, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Introspection is common at the turn of the year, and people who plodded along in less-than-fulfilling jobs for the preceding 11 months begin thinking about what they can do differently in the new year. Many will turn to their education options to help improve their job prospects.
Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree can help make you more marketable to employers, improve your chances for promotion, and enhance your earning potential. A degree can also help you change careers. Many working adults turn to competency-based universities, like Western Governors University (WGU), to earn a degree. Competency-based education lets students focus on what they need to learn and move quickly through what they already know, giving working adults the scheduling flexibility and cost savings they need to balance work and family while mastering the skills required for a degree. At WGU, the average student is 37 years old, and students attend from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
If you’re thinking about switching careers in 2015, WGU points to four growth areas to consider:
Salaries for workers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields rose between 2000 and 2013, and the shortage of STEM professionals continues, US News recently reported. As demand for STEM workers has increased, so has the need for teachers who can prepare students to pursue STEM careers. Institutions like WGU’s Teachers College, which is the nation’s No. 1 producer of STEM teachers, specialize in degree programs that equip graduates to teach math and science at kindergarten through 12th grade levels.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth of 12 percent for teachers in elementary and middle schools, and 6 percent for high school teachers between now and 2022, with demand for math and science disciplines higher than average.
With more baby boomers reaching retirement age and more Americans covered by health insurance, demand for health care professionals is set to increase significantly over the next 10 years. For career-changers, health care offers many well-paying jobs that require just two- or four-year degrees, and these are growing at a faster rate than other industries.
For example, according to the BLS’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the industry will need to add more than 64,000 dental hygienists by 2022 in order to keep pace with rising demand. The job requires just a two-year degree and median pay is about $70,000 per year.
Information technology affects nearly every aspect of modern life. The BLS notes that IT professionals are instrumental in keeping systems running, maintaining networks, creating new software, and keeping information systems secure. The industry shed fewer jobs during the recession and is expected to grow far more quickly than other industries, the BLS reports.
Most IT jobs – such as computer network architect or software developer – require a bachelor’s degree in information technology. WGU offers several bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in information technology, most of which include industry certifications as part of the coursework included with tuition.
Demand continues to be strong for managers in all areas of business. Certain business occupations are poised to grow faster than the overall economy. For example, demand for medical and health services managers will increase 23 percent between now and 2022, the BLS predicts. The profession requires a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Skilled managers will also find opportunities in IT, human resources, accounting, sales and marketing, and administration.
To learn more about Western Governors University and online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that can lead to careers in these four growing areas, visit www.wgu.edu.