Online colleges offer benefits traditional campuses just can't top; the trick is to find online degree programs that lead to promising, stable careers--especially in today's difficult labor market. This list of the top 10 fastest growing online degrees feature booming programs that prepare you for careers featured on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Top 30 Fastest Growing Occupations.
1. Registered Nursing Programs
Registered nurses (RNs) are already in demand, and employment is expected to grow by another 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. The hands-on nature of the profession requires RNs to garner clinical experience in addition to online education, but you can typically meet these requirements through a local campus, medical center, or hospital.
2. Licensed Practical Nursing Programs
Like RNs, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can enroll in hybrid programs combining online and hands-on education, but LPNs require less education overall--an associate's degree is typically sufficient. LPN jobs are expected to grow by 21 percent between 2008 and 2018.
3. Accounting Degrees
Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that employment for accountants and auditors is expected to grow by 23 percent between 2008 and 2018. The number-crunching nature of the profession makes it perfectly suitable for online learning. An online bachelor's degree is a great start.
4. Teaching Degrees
Teachers are in demand, especially in rural or poor urban communities. The BLS notes that a bachelor's degree plus teacher certification is typically required to enter the field. Online degree programs in education provide students with the basic education they need while classroom internships provide hands-on experience.
5. Physical Therapy Degrees
The BLS notes that physical therapist positions are expected to grow by a whopping 30 percent between 2008 and 2018 while employment for their aids is expected to grow by 35 percent. Physical therapists must earn doctoral degrees, but associate's degrees usually suffice for their assistants. In both cases, online degree programs combined with local hands-on clinical and lab work fit the bill.
6. Office Administration Degrees
Employment for executive secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to grow by 12.8 percent between 2008 and 2018. Employers increasingly prefer to hire applicants with associate's degrees or higher, so online degree programs in office administration are an excellent bet.
7. Management Degrees
The BLS notes that management analyst positions are expected to increase by 24 percent between 2008 and 2018. Earning an online bachelor's or master's degree in management and leadership can provide you with the instruction you need to break into this lucrative field.
8. Medical Assisting Degrees
The BLS reports employment for medical assistants is expected to grow by an impressive 34 percent between 2008 and 2018. Online degree program in medical assisting combined with practical, hands-on training through a local medical center is a great start.
9. Information Technology (IT) Degrees
It makes sense that computer-based disciplines are well suited for online degree programs, but did you know they're also in demand? Networking systems and data communications analysis positions, for instance, are expected to grow by 23 percent between 2008 and 2018.
10. Early Childhood Education Degrees
An online degree in early childhood education is excellent preparation for tomorrow's child care industry, which is expected to grow by 11 percent between 2008 and 2018.