Top Careers 2015

The Job You Want, The Degree You Need

top careers with an online degree

By Sindya Narayanaswamy & Chris Nelson

Thanks to U.S. News and World Report's coverage of employment trends, you now have the inside scoop on top careers and online degrees, and you can use these findings to discover the job you have always wanted—and what it takes to get you there.

"Do what you love…because, as I like to put it, the world is getting flat," said Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist for The New York Times, during his commencement address at Williams College.

This advice to "do what you love" speaks to what careers are hot this year. In fact, with the dynamic careers on this year's USNWR list, you are sure to find one that matches your interests and strengths.

Careers on the Move

With the world going "flat," the jobs that require personal contact will remain high in demand. These include careers in health care and technology. Have you ever thought about becoming a registered nurse or a physician? Health care is an evergreen sector. People always have health problems and always get sick, and there are numerous health care degrees that can help launch a career in the field.

Friedman continued, "What is flattening the world is our ability to automate more work with computers and software and to transmit that work anywhere in the world…the flatter the world gets, the more essential it is that you do what you love, because…all the boring, repetitive jobs are going to be automated or outsourced."

Online Degrees for the Education You Need

online degrees boost your career

It is clear that higher education and training is more important than ever. This is directly correlated to Friedman's observation of the world going flat. Jobs that don't require thinking are being outsourced and automated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "among the 20 fastest growing occupations, a bachelor's or associate's degree is the most significant source of postsecondary education or training for 12 of them." It is interesting to note that almost all of these careers are in health care or technology.

The good news about education is that it is no longer an elitist enclave reserved for those who can afford it. There are plenty of part-time and evening programs that working students can take advantage of. The last five years has seen a tremendous growth in the online education industry, as well as in the numerous sources of financial aid for tuition costs. And it is important to be sure that the school is accredited.

Find the Online School for You

Accredited online programs are currently very popular. You can study from anywhere. You can access your course materials online and work at your own pace. There are no geographic barriers with online learning. You can study while you travel, or you can pursue a degree that might not be offered by a local university near you. Many online programs are very user-friendly, offering live audio, video and text interaction with other students and instructors. Traditional "brick and mortar" institutions might suit some students, but if you need a flexible program, going the online route might be the right choice for you in planning for one of the best careers in 2015.

With so many degrees, programs and career options, picking what's best for you can be daunting.

Fortunately, this also means that there is something for everybody, and as Friedman said, you should be able to "do what you love."

U.S. News and World Report: Top 10 Careers for 2015

PositionTop 10 Jobs for 2015Median Annual Salary*
10 Physician Assistant $90,930
9 Registered Nurse $65,470
8 Information Security Analyst $88,890
7 Computer Systems Analyst $79,680
6 Physical Therapist $79,860
5 Dental Hygienist $70,210
4 Physician $187,200
3 Software Developer $93,350
2 Nurse Practitioner $89,960
1 Dentist $149,310

Sources:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Money.usnews.com.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.