The Top 51 Degrees Based on Job Prospects

Find high-demand, high-security jobs by choosing the right degree

With the current downturn in the economy, the number one thing you want to look for in a degree is a good chance of finding a job once you graduate. Of course, the amount of money you can make is important. However, you don’t want to fall into the trap of choosing a degree that leads to a high paying job but has too many job seekers in the marketplace. A degree with a competitive job market lowers your chance of getting a job and you could easily end up unemployed or underemployed struggling to pay off student loans.

It’s much better to enroll in a degree program that leads to a lower paying job but has a great chance of employment. Making only $20/hour is better than $0/hour (because you couldn’t find a job) or $10/hour (because you had to take a low skill job that doesn’t even require a degree).

How can you find out your chances of landing a job with a certain degree? Fortunately, there is a treasure trove of information at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US Department of Labor. The BLS published The Occupational Outlook Handbook, which has information about the most common jobs in the economy. For many jobs, the Handbook includes the competitiveness of the job market or the likelihood of finding employment.

The Handbook has three categories of competitiveness:

  1. Very good to excellent job opportunities: Job openings are expected to be more numerous than job seekers.
  2. Good or favorable opportunities: Job openings are expected to be in rough balance with job seekers.
  3. Keen competition: Job openings are expected to be fewer than job seekers.

We gathered a list of jobs meeting two criteria: first, they had to have good to excellent job opportunities; second, you could earn a college degree in a specific subject area to help you qualify for the job. Next, we ranked them based on job opportunities and annual salary. Then, we associated each job with a relevant degree that can help you get the job. We separated the degrees with competitive admissions by giving them their own section.

We found 51 degrees meeting the two criteria and we divided the degrees into three sections. The first section has 20 degrees that lead to very good or excellent job opportunities.

The second section has 25 degrees that lead to good or favorable job opportunities.

The last section has 6 degrees that lead to good or excellent job opportunities. However, school admissions for these degrees are competitive.

We ranked the degrees in each section by annual median salary (from the BLS wage data).


Click the links below to learn more about the degrees and the jobs they can lead to.
Degrees With Great Job Opportunities (Ranked by Salary)

1. MBA Degree in Technology Management
2. PhD Degree in Computer Science
3. Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering
4. Master’s Degree in Education Administration
5. Master’s Degree in Geoscience
6. Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science
7. Bachelor’s Degree in Databases
8. Master’s Degree in Operations Research
9. Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Networks
10. Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
11. Master’s Degree in Epidemiology
12. Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology
13. Associate’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy
14. Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education
15. Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant
16. Associate’s Degree in Physical Therapist Assistant
17. Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice
18. Associate’s Degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology
19. Associate’s Degree in Health Information Technology
20. Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology

Degrees With Good Job Opportunities (Ranked by Salary)

21. Doctor of Podiatric Medicine Degree
22. Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering
23. Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies
24. Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree
25. Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy
26. Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy
27. Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene
28. Doctor of Chiropractic Degree
29. Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology
30. Doctor of Audiology Degree
31. Bachelor’s Degree in Communications
32. Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture
33. Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science
34. Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting
35. Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science
36. Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction
37. Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management
38. Bachelor’s Degree in Surveying
39. Master’s Degree in Library Science
40. Master’s Degree in Counseling
41. Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science
42. Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work
43. Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems
44. Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education
45. Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training

Degrees with Good or Great Job Opportunities but School Admissions are Competitive (Ranked by Salary)

46. Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Degree
47. Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree
48. Doctor of Pharmacy Degree
49. Doctor of Optometry Degree
50. Master’s Degree in Health Administration
51. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree

1. MBA Degree in Technology Management

The MBA Degree or Master of Business Administration is a graduate degree that covers important business topics like accounting, economics, finance, leadership, marketing, operations, and organizational structure. In an MBA program, you can take business courses exclusively or select a concentration and spend some time studying that subject area as well as the business topics.

If you want to find a job and earn money, the best concentration to choose is technology management. With this emphasis in your degree, you can develop management skills to become a successful manager in the intersection of business and technology. You can learn how to communicate clearly between technical and non-technical workers and customers.

Sample courses in this concentration include Strategies for Implementing Innovation and Technology, Networking and Telecommunications, and Relational Database Management Systems.

Job: Computer and Information Systems Manager

A bachelor’s degree is usually required for this position but employers often prefer a graduate degree, especially an MBA in technology. Along with a degree, you need relevant experience to qualify for a job.

Computer and information systems managers oversee the technology aspects of companies. They are responsible for operations such as network security, software creation, and internet access. They work with other managers in the organization to create goals and then setup the technology to meet those goals.

As management professionals, they direct the work of other workers in the information technology (IT) field like software engineers, programmers, systems analysts, and computer support specialists.

Computer and information systems managers earned an median annual salary of $115,780, or $55.67 per hour, in May 2010.

Job opportunities for this position should be excellent. You will have the best prospects if you have good communication and business skills and technical knowledge. Also, an MBA in technology management will increase your chances of landing a job.

New technologies for the workplace will raise the demand for computer and information systems managers. To stay competitive and improve efficiency, companies will need to hire these workers to install complex computer systems, keep them updated, and troubleshoot them when problems occur.

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2. PhD Degree in Computer Science

The PhD degree in computer science is a high level degree featuring advanced classes in computers. For the first two years, you learn about subjects such as artificial intelligence, computer systems, software, and microprocessors. Then, you spend the rest of the time doing research on computer engineering or science.

In order to gain admission into a PhD program, you usually need a bachelor’s degree with a strong focus in computer science or engineering. A PhD program generally takes at least five years to complete.

Job: Computer Scientist

Most computer scientist positions require a PhD in computer science, or a closely related degree. Some jobs in the federal government may only require an undergraduate four-year degree in computers.

Computer scientists play an important role in the progress of society. They create and design new technology. By doing so, they provide solutions to complex problems in business and science. Some computer scientists work with engineers and other specialists on projects that require people with different skills.

Computer scientists can be found working in many different industries. You can find them conducting research on computer hardware, robots, or virtual reality. In the hardware field, scientists find new ways to process information digitally. They invent computer chips with new resources to increase computing speed and power.

With virtual reality, scientists program computer games that make the users feel like they are in a real-life situation. Scientists who work with robots may develop machines to do tasks like sweeping floors, flying small airplanes, or assembling cars in a factory.

Computer scientists earned an annual median salary of $100,660, or $48.39 an hour, in May 2010.

This position is expected to enjoy excellent job opportunities. PhD graduates in computer science are in high demand. Many firms are having difficulties finding enough computer scientists for their workforce.

Computer scientist jobs should continue to grow as businesses, other organizations, and even individuals seek improvements in technology. The computer systems design and software publishing industries are predicted to be among the fastest growing industries. They will provide many new jobs for computer scientists.

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3. Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering

A bachelor’s degree in software engineering is an undergraduate degree about software development in the field of information technology. It covers the principles, methods, and techniques used to create computer software.

In the first year of the program, you usually have similar courses as computer science majors. You take courses such as programming, software design, systems, networks, and computer architecture. These classes are designed to give you a strong foundation to tackle more advanced computing concepts.

The following years are more flexible with the courses you can take. You can choose from different courses to customize your education. During this time, the topics differ from computer science degrees. You learn about making software while computer science topics are geared more towards theory or math problems.

Job: Computer Software Engineer

Computer software engineers generally need a bachelor’s degree as well as experience with and knowledge of widely used computer technology. If you seek advancement, it helps to become an expert in an emerging technology.

Software engineers create software. Using the principles of software development, they design the applications and systems of computers. Also, they test and evaluate the software to make improvements on future versions and to learn from their experience to create new programs.

There are two types of software engineers: applications and systems. Applications software engineers find out the needs of users and then based on their findings, create software to meet those needs. Their programs are often used by individuals around the world.

Systems software engineers develop custom software for organizations. They communicate with company leaders to find out their goals and then create a computer system to help them reach those goals. They also maintain and troubleshoot the system and expand it with new features.

The median annual salaries for both types of software engineers are similar. Applications software engineers earned $87,790 ($42.21/hour) in May 2010 while systems software engineers earned $94,180 ($45.28/hour) in the same time period.

Due to the rapid predicted job growth through 2018, job prospects for software engineers should be excellent. You can improve your employment opportunities by gaining experience and earning at least a bachelor’s degree.

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4. Master’s Degree in Education Administration

A master’s degree in education administration prepares you for leadership positions in schools and other education settings. With this degree, you can gain skills to qualify for jobs such as assistant principal, principal, head of a department, assistant superintendent, and curriculum specialist.

Courses cover subjects like school law, supervision, curriculum development, school finance, and curriculum evaluation. You may learn how to manage school facilities and organize students and staff to create a strong learning environment.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) accredit degree programs for administrators at the elementary and secondary school levels.

Job: Education Administrator

The general path to become an education administrator is first becoming teacher and then completing a graduate degree. For example, principals and other education administrators in public schools typically have a master’s degree.

Education administrators usually manage the operations of schools including preschools, K-12 schools (both public and private), colleges, universities, and technical schools. Some administrators work in other settings. They may direct the education programs of businesses, museums, correctional facilities, or community service organizations.

Education administrators provide leadership by setting standards and goals and creating policies and guidelines to meet them. They supervise workers including teachers, librarians, counselors, managers, coaches, and support staff.

School administrators also interact with students, parents, and prospective students who may enroll in the future. Community involvement and alumni relations are common responsibilities as well.

In May 2010, education administrators in elementary and secondary schools earned a median annual salary of $86,970 while administrators in postsecondary schools earned $83,710.

Job prospects for this position should be excellent because of the expected large number of retirements. Also, fewer job seekers are expected to apply for some jobs.

There may be more employment opportunities in the West and South due to rising student populations while the Northeast and the Midwest are predicted to have declining or stable enrollments. You also have better opportunities in urban and rural schools, because wages there are usually lower than schools in the suburbs.

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5. Master’s Degree in Geoscience

A master’s degree in geoscience involves studying about the earth, its chemical elements, and the different forces that act upon it. You learn about plate movements and how they cause volcanoes, earthquakes, and the formation of new mountains. Other topics include climate change, economic natural resources, and how to locate and use these resources.

Geoscience courses cover geologic techniques and subjects like structural geology, stratigraphy, petrology, mineralogy, and paleontology. Along with traditional classwork, the curriculum provides practical experience. You work with rocks, fossils, soils, and minerals in the lab and in the field.

Job: Geoscientist

To become a geoscientist, you usually need a master’s degree. Both private industry companies and government organizations prefer this degree.

Geoscientists tend to work in the industries related to geoscience like geology and geophysics. Geologists research and investigate the earth. They study its composition and discover the processes by which rocks were formed. They study the development of natural structures over a time period. Also, they analyze animal and plant fossils to learn more about evolution.

Geophysicists apply the principles and theory of chemistry, physics, and math to learn more about the surface of the earth. Also, they study bodies of water, the atmosphere, and natural forces like gravity and electricity. Geophysicists can further specialize into areas like seismology and geomagnetism. Seismologists investigate earthquakes using seismographs and other geophysical equipment.

Geoscientists can spend much of their time outside in the field. Traveling is common because many work areas are in remote locations. For example, geologists often fly by helicopter or drive all-terrain vehicles to reach a work site.

The median annual salary in May 2010 for geoscientists other than hydrologists and geographers was $82,500, or $39.66 per hour.

If you have a master’s degree in geoscience, you should have excellent job prospects. Specifically, oil and gas companies and consulting firms will have many openings for geoscientists. A large number of geoscientists are close to retirement age. As they retire, businesses and government agencies will need new workers to fill their positions.

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6. Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

A bachelor’s degree in computer science typically takes four or more years to complete. The computer science major teaches you how to think broadly about the mathematical and theoretical foundations of computing rather than merely learning specific technologies or techniques.

Computer science is a broad field, so there is a wide range of coursework. Most programs require standard computer courses on topics such as programming principles and paradigms, data structures, computer architecture, algorithms, logic, and computation. Some programs require additional coursework in mathematics, with classes in calculus, differential equations, probability and statistics, linear algebra, and discrete mathematics.

You can customize your education by developing specialized expertise with classes like computer networking, software testing, information theory, multimedia, computer graphics, and databases.

Job: Computer Systems Analyst

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement at most companies for computer systems analyst positions. Also, any relevant work experience will help get you hired.

Computer systems analysts are problem solvers and creative thinkers who use information technology to help organizations achieve their goals. Your work as a computer systems analyst may involve designing and implementing new computer systems, achieving the optimum configuration of hardware and software, or finding inefficiencies in the organization’s existing IT systems and resources.

To increase your wages as a computer systems analyst, it helps to have an area of specialization. Many organizations want systems analysts who are experts in specific types of computer systems like accounting, finance, science, or engineering.

In May 2010, computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $77,740, or $37.38 per hour.

Job prospects are excellent for these workers. There are three main trends driving rapid job growth. First, IT is more important than ever. Companies are looking to get the most out of their information technology investments, leading to strong demand for IT problem-solving skills.

Second, information security matters as people rely more on digital data storage. Companies need to find ways to safely store and transmit sensitive data.

Third, healthcare IT is a growing field. America’s healthcare industry is seeing a growing demand for information technology in areas such as electronic health records, e-prescriptions, and healthcare-specific IT platforms.

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7. Bachelor’s Degree in Databases

A bachelor’s degree in databases teaches you the fundamental knowledge of software programming, network administration, and specialized online tools to manage complex databases for organizations of varying sizes. You take classes in hardware, computer architecture, programming, database development, and web servers. Also, you learn how to use industry-leading database management systems software like Oracle, IBM DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server.

Most undergraduate database degree programs are available online, giving you a flexible class schedule. The best programs focus on hands-on learning so that you come away with practical knowledge of important skills like database design, prototyping, and database management.

Studying database administration gives you the skills to manage a database environment, operate desktop database software, and integrate database technology at the broader enterprise level.

With a bachelor’s degree in databases, you:
* Learn to maintain a database environment and develop expertise in data center design and operations.
* Gain high-demand skills like information security, disaster recovery, data dictionary maintenance, and performance analysis and tuning.
* Obtain training in the latest techniques to ensure redundancy in database systems, which maintains the availability of systems, applications, and data.

Job: Database Administrator

A bachelor’s degree is usually required to get a job as a database administrator.

Much of the activity in any IT department is related to databases – including development, application, and administration. Database administrators use database management software to find the most efficient and ways to organize, analyze, and deliver data. They are also involved with identifying user needs and implementing new databases.

Migration is a major part of this position. Database administrators can often be found working on integrating data from an old system into the new version. They also perform meticulous testing and modification tasks as well as apply troubleshooting and problem-solving skills when difficulties arise.

Database administrators need to have a reliable presence and a steady hand to ensure system performance. They must also demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the database platform and show efficiency and expertise with adding new users to the system. Since most databases have access to the internet, database administrators plan and implement security measures to protect sensitive information.

In May 2010, database administrators earned a median annual salary of $73,490, or $35.33 per hour.

These workers are expected to continue to have excellent job opportunities. You can improve your employment chances by getting certified on popular technologies.

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8. Master’s Degree in Operations Research

A master’s degree in operations research covers modeling and problem solving skills to maximize favorable outcomes (like profit and productivity) and minimize unfavorable outcomes (like cost and waste). Operations research is a broad, dynamic field that helps organizations make better decisions through the use of mathematical analysis and concepts.

To enjoy this degree, you should have a passion for technology and have a sincere interest in analyzing problems and making recommendations based on data. This program uses computer-based mathematical modeling to analyze various choices, forecast the possible outcomes and implications, and pinpoint the best decision (while assessing valid alternatives).

The coursework gives you a broad knowledge of applied mathematics, rather than focusing on a narrow area of specialization. You take classes in math programming, statistics, decision making, resource allocation, and research models. Upon graduation, you should be prepared to put your skills to use in a diverse array of industries.

Job: Operations Research Analyst

A bachelor’s degree in a mathematics-related field is typically the minimum requirement for a job as an operations research analyst. However, most employers prefer to see a higher level of education such as a master’s degree in operations research.

Operations research analysts spend their work hours using advanced mathematical concepts and mathematical modeling tools to develop experiments and perform analysis. Their data is often used to make big decisions affecting the direction of organizations. Companies seek the advice of operations research analysts to formulate official policy and make strategic resource allocation decisions and other high-level management decisions.

Operations research analysts work in many different industries. They are called upon to solve problems related to transportation and logistics, shipping products, managing supply chains, determining airline schedules, conducting genetic research, and optimizing the performance of customer service call centers.

They earned an annual median salary of $70,960, or $34.12 an hour, in May 2010.

If you have a graduate degree in operations research, you should have excellent job prospects. The operations research industry is not widely know, so there are fewer job seekers for each open position.

Also, operations research analysts are in high demand in nearly every field of business, government, and non-profit organizations because organization leaders are trying to squeeze out costs, reduce waste, and make their organizations more efficient than before. The best job opportunities will be in companies providing management, science, or technical consulting services.

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9. Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Networks

A bachelor’s degree in computer networks gives you the skills and expertise to design, install, and maintain efficient computer networks for all kinds of businesses, government agencies, and other employers.

Upon completion of the degree, you should have significant expertise in all aspects of managing networking systems including design, programming, analysis, and security. Your coursework includes topics like hardware, signaling, microprocessors, operating systems, and database creation.

The best degree programs offer up-to-date and specialized instruction to make sure you get the education you need to confidently use the latest technologies. These programs also provide opportunities to gain real-world experience through summer internships and culminate your learning with a final senior thesis project.

Job: Network and Computer Systems Administrator

A bachelor’s degree is the typical minimum education requirement to get a job as a network and computer systems administrator. It may be possible to get a job with an associate’s degree as long as you also have related work experience or professional certification.

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for all aspects of supporting an organization’s computer networks including maintaining LANs, WANs, internet, and intranet systems. They work for a wide range of organizations including Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses, start-ups, and government agencies.

Network and computer systems administrators need to be detail-oriented and have a passion for problem solving. They gather data to evaluate a system’s performance, identify user needs, and determine the optimum computing features to meet those needs. They work with teams of people to install new hardware and software and then maintain those computer systems for ongoing use.

These workers earned a median annual salary of $69,160, or $33.25 an hour, in May 2010.

Job opportunities for this field should continue to be excellent. You can improve your chances of getting hired by earning a bachelor’s degree and one or more certifications.

Much of the job growth will come as mobile technology for the internet increases in use. Organizations will need networking professionals to reach the growing number of online smartphone users. The security sector is also predicted to have many job openings. Network administrators with information security skills will be needed as online attacks become more complex.

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10. Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

A bachelor’s degree in nursing, also known as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), is a four-year degree offered by colleges and universities. The advantage of this degree compared to nursing credentials like a diploma or an associate’s degree is that it gives you the same broad background in liberal arts and sciences as a typical bachelor degree program, along with the specialized knowledge of a nursing curriculum.

This degree includes courses about the fundamentals of nursing. Also, you may take classes in nursing science, leadership, and nursing informatics, all of which can give you broader career options beyond bedside patient care. Many programs offer or require hands-on clinical experiences working with patients at local hospitals and other health care settings.

Job: Registered Nurse

There are three main ways to become a registered nurse (RN). You can earn a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. Also, you must complete the national RN licensing exam prior to obtaining your nursing license.

One of the biggest advantages of a bachelor’s degree is it helps you improve skills in communication, critical thinking, and leadership. These “soft skills” are more important than ever, as the nursing profession demands a broader mindset and a more complex approach to problems.

The degree gives you more extensive clinical experience in non-hospital settings, making it easier for you to get jobs in rehabilitation centers, private clinics, visiting nurse programs, schools, and insurance companies. You can also work in areas not directly related to patient care such as administration, consulting, and teaching.

If you want to be an RN, you should have a passion for helping people and relentless energy. Typical RN duties include treating and monitoring patients, teaching patients and their families about medical conditions and preventive care, and providing emotional support to the family members of sick and injured people.

In May 2010, RNs earned a median annual salary of $64,690, or $31.10 per hour.

Job prospects should be excellent for these workers. Many companies are struggling to hire enough nurses, because the RN workforce has gotten older and there are not enough younger nurses to hire. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you usually have better job opportunities than nurses without one.

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11. Master’s Degree in Epidemiology

In this degree, you devote yourself to the scientific study of disease. You may take courses in disability and trauma patterns in certain people groups and development of health programs to prevent and/or control outbreaks of disease. Other topics of study could include data analysis, epidemiology methods, and biostatistics. Most programs offer courses which include the social, political and economic features of health problems and how society deals with them.

After satisfactorily completing a master’s program in epidemiology, you should be equipped to measure disease frequency, measure association between risk factors and disease, identify/describe major foundations for bias in epidemiologic research, develop ways to evaluate and reduce bias, and design a study for epidemiologic research (including relating it to findings from other similar studies).

Job: Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists are the detectives for the world’s health problems as they investigate and describe causes and spread of disease. They subsequently develop ways to prevent or control disease. They watch the way diseases affect certain people groups/areas and the geographical locations of specific diseases which arise.

The goal of an epidemiologist is to keep public health risks minimized by studying patterns of disease as well as accidental injuries. Many of them will attain a proficiency level which will enable them to predict the likelihood of disease in certain areas and develop methods of prevention.

There are two kinds of epidemiologists, applied and research. Applied epidemiologists mostly work for state health agencies and respond to outbreaks of disease, identify the outbreaks’ causes, and help contain them. This position usually requires a master’s degree from a public health school.

Research epidemiologists study diseases in laboratories and in the field in order to identify methods to prevent outbreaks of those diseases in the future. Depending on the type of work, this position may require a PhD or medical degree.

Epidemiologists earned a median annual salary of $63,010, or $30.29 per hour, in May 2010.

Epidemiologists have excellent job prospects as many states have a shortage of applicants to fill vacancies in their epidemiology departments. The competition for research positions is greater than applied positions.

The growth rate of new jobs is expected to increase faster than average. This is partly due to the heightened awareness of bioterrorism and the resurgence of other diseases long believed to be a thing of the past. Rare but infectious diseases like West Nile Virus and Avian Flu will also increase the demand for epidemiologists.

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12. Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology

A bachelor’s degree program in medical technology includes courses in biological sciences, chemistry, math, microbiology, and statistics. It also requires courses about the specialized knowledge and skills you need in clinical laboratories. Many programs also offer (or require) classes in management, business, and computer applications.

In this degree program, you learn how to examine cells and bodily fluids in the lab. Cell examination includes looking for harmful bacteria as well as checking samples for various chemicals. Also, you learn about drug testing and finding matches for blood transfusions.

The authority for certifying Clinical Laboratory Sciences is the NAACLS (National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences). After completing the bachelor’s degree, you should obtain accreditation through this agency to qualify for a job.

The more popular programs are those which combine classroom instruction and on-campus labs with internships in hospitals. These programs offer the advantage of hands-on experience, which gives you an advantage in the job market.

Job: Clinical Laboratory Technologist

An entry level position as a clinical laboratory technologist usually requires a bachelor’s degree with a major in medical technology (or a life science). It is possible in some circumstances to qualify for a job with on-the-job or specialized training and some education.

Clinical laboratory technologists are also called clinical laboratory scientists or medical technologists. Their duties include examining and analyzing body fluids and cells; searching for and identifying bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyzing the chemical content of fluids; matching blood for transfusions; testing drug levels to see how a patient is responding to treatment; preparing specimens for examination; and looking for abnormal cells in blood and body fluids.

In the course of their work, they use sophisticated lab equipment like cell counters and microscopes as well as automated equipment and computerized instruments which can perform a number of tests at the same time. After they have tested and examined a specimen, they analyze the results and relay their findings to physicians.

The median annual salary for this position was $56,130, or $26.98 an hour, in May 2010.

The job opportunities in this field are plentiful and the job growth rate is expected to be in the 14% range through 2018. With this higher than average growth rate, there should be more job openings than job seekers.

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13. Associate’s Degree in Respiratory Therapy

To earn an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy, you need to complete studies in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, mathematics, and chemistry. Your courses also cover therapeutic and diagnostic methods and tests, techniques of critical patient care, respiratory ventilation and rehab, equipment, and clinical practice guideline application.

Most associate’s programs require two years of study. Some programs have medical internships available. Along with the classwork, you work in clinical laboratory settings that simulate situations in the workplace. You will be trained to recognize disorders with specialized equipment and coordinate patient care with physicians.

Job: Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists must have an associate’s degree in the field.

They are sometimes called respiratory care practitioners. They care for patients who have breathing or other pulmonary disorders. They work under the supervision of a physician and are responsible for the diagnostics, treatment, and care of respiratory patients.

By consulting with physicians and other healthcare staff personnel, they help develop and/or modify methods of patient care. Respiratory therapists are sometimes required to provide complex care for intensive-care patients on life support and must be able to exercise independent judgement when required.

Respiratory therapists treat a wide range of patients, from premature babies with under developed lungs to elderly patients with diseased lungs. In addition, they are called upon to give relief to patients with asthma or emphysema, heart attack or stroke victims, people in shock, or even drowning victims.

The median annual salary for this position was $54,280, or $26.10 per hour, in May 2010.

The outlook for employment in this field is excellent now and in the long term. The growth rate for jobs is predicted to grow by 21 percent from 2008 to 2018.

This demand will be caused by the surge in population of the middle aged to elderly, which will increase the occurrence of cardiopulmonary disease. There is also the increasing role of therapists in disease prevention, emergency care, case management, and early diagnosis of pulmonary diseases.

The largest number of available job openings will still be in hospitals, but more openings are projected to be in other settings like home healthcare companies, doctor’s offices, or retail firms providing pulmonary equipment and supplies.

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14. Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education

Degree programs in special education have some of the same courses as typical K-12 teacher programs, but with the addition of intensive preparation for dealing with special needs in a classroom setting.

Bachelor’s degree programs in special education typically include both general and specialized courses in special education. They are usually four years long but more and more institutions now require five years or the four years plus some graduate level education. While some school offer only generalized special education degrees, others allow you to choose a specialization. In the last year of your program, you will probably teach in a classroom under the supervision of a certified special education teacher.

In these programs, you learn the skills required to design individual lesson plans to suit each student. Also, you learn how to use technology in the classroom, handle disruptive student behavior, and meet the needs of disabled students.

Sample courses include Introduction to Education of Exceptional Children, Diagnostic Assessment and Progress Monitoring, Educational Psychology, and Families, Schools, and Communities: Communication and Collaboration.

Job: Special Education Teacher

To become a special education teacher in the US, you need to be licensed. To earn a license, you usually have to complete a bachelor’s degree and a training program. In some states, you need a master’s degree.

The duties of a special education teacher involve working with youth and children with disabilities that hinder their ability to learn at the same pace and in the same setting with other children. Some work with students who have severe cognitive, physical, or emotional disabilities – these children are typically taught basic literacy and life/coping skills.

Most teachers work with students with only mild/moderate disabilities. They modify the general education curriculum in order to provide each child a learning plan which meets individual needs as well as give any remedial instruction required.

Most special education teachers teach students from preschool through the secondary school level.

The median annual salary for these workers varies only slightly depending on the school level being taught. In May 2010, teachers in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary schools earned $52,250. Those in middle schools and secondary schools earned $53,440 and $54,810, respectively.

Many school districts report a shortage of qualified licensed teachers, which means job prospects should be excellent. Job opportunities vary by specialty and geographic area. Positions in inner cities and rural areas tend to be more plentiful than in suburban or wealthy urban areas.

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15. Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant

The associate degree in occupational therapy assistant generally lasts two years. The first year usually covers topics like healthcare, medical terminology, physiology, and anatomy. The second year features more advanced topics such as mental health, physical disabilities in adults, pediatrics, and gerontology. Along with the traditional classwork, you must finish at least 16 weeks of fieldwork.

To increase your chances of admission, you can take high school classes in health and biology. Also, you can volunteer in health care work settings.

You should select a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Accreditation allows you to sit for the national exam to become certified. In 2009, there were 135 programs accredited by the ACOTE.

Job: Occupational Therapy Assistant

An associate degree is usually needed to qualify for a job as an occupational therapist assistant. Many states regulate this occupation by license, registration, or certification.

Occupational therapist assistants are supervised by therapists and rehabilitate patients with physical, mental, emotional, or developmental problems. Their goal is to develop in each patient a better quality of life and help them regain their ability to perform daily activities. For example, assistants help injured workers learn how to compensate for lost motor skills in order to go back to work. Also, they help people with learning disabilities to become more independent.

Occupational therapist assistants develop a treatment plan of rehabilitative exercises in collaboration with occupational therapists. The plans might include teaching the best way to move from a bed to a wheelchair and showing how to stretch and limber the hand muscles. Assistants keep track of an individual’s activities to ensure the patient is doing them correctly, provide encouragement, and record the patient’s progress for the therapist.

Workers in this occupation earned a median annual salary of $51,010, or $24.52 an hour, in May 2010.

Job opportunities for occupational therapist assistants should be very good. Applicants with prior experience working in any healthcare setting will have excellent chances of being hired.

Job growth for this field is partly due to the increasing number of occupational therapists who are expected to hire assistants to lower the cost of their services.

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16. Associate’s Degree in Physical Therapist Assistant

An associate’s degree in physical therapist assistant is usually designed to be completed in two years. This program includes both traditional classroom work and clinical training.

Clinical training is valuable experience that proves to educators and potential employers that you understand the practical application of patient care responsibilities. The training includes working with clients in treatment centers and earning first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certifications. Academic classes cover a range of subjects, including anatomy and physiology, psychology, English, and algebra.

The accreditation of physical therapy assistant programs is the responsibility of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. In 2009, there were 223 accredited programs, most of which led to an associate’s degree upon graduation.

Job: Physical Therapist Assistant

A state license and an accredited associate’s degree from a physical therapist assistant program is required in most states to work as a physical therapist assistant.

Physical therapy assistants work under the supervision of physical therapists administering treatments intended to improve mobility and flexibility, relieve pain and discomfort, and relieve disability due to disease, accident, or injury. Responsibilities include teaching patients how to use medical assistive devices like crutches and artificial limbs; teaching home exercises for continued improvement; gait and balance training; administering therapeutic treatments like mechanical traction, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation; and massaging.

Physical therapy assistants also maintain patient activity and treatment records, inform the physical therapist of issues that arise while administering treatments, and report final outcomes.

These workers earned a median annual salary of $49,690, or $23.89 per hour, in May 2010.

Job prospects for physical therapy assistants should be very good. Job growth is expected to be strong in all health settings including hospitals, skilled nursing care facilities, and orthopedic settings.

New jobs will be available in cities and rural areas. Rural areas will have particularly favorable job opportunities. The concentration of jobs has been in more populated locations, but as access to health care services expands, the need for physical therapist assistants will also expand.

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17. Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice covers a diverse range of topics related to social order. You learn about policies, principles of justice, human behavior, and criminal justice institutions. Also, you can develop skills in sociology, politics, and psychology to equip you for various positions.

These degrees often have areas of specialization. For example, some schools offer a set of courses on homeland security while others are focused on economic crime. Whether or not you have a specialization, you learn the basic philosophies of crime control and how they can be applied to offenders. Upon graduation, you should prepared to work with different people groups, from offenders to crime victims.

Jobs: Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Specialist

Agencies have different qualifications to gain employment as a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist, but a bachelor’s degree is a common requirement. Employers look for graduates who majored in criminal justice, social work, or a related field.

Also, you usually need to pass a couple tests including a psychological examination. Once you pass the tests, you will probably work as a trainee or have a time period of evaluation before getting a permanent job.

Probation officers, also called community supervision officers in some places, supervise and monitor people on probation through the justice system. They interact with offenders on probation as well as their families. Some officers visit offenders at their homes and workplaces.

Correctional treatment specialists, also called correctional counselors or case managers, give advice and encouragement to offenders. They prepare plans for rehabilitation to guide them in their post-prison or post-parole lives. These workers are employed by jails, parole institutions, and probation agencies.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned an annual median salary of $47,200, or $22.69 an hour, in May 2010.

Job prospects for these occupations should be excellent because job growth is expected to be 19% from 2008 to 2018. This growth rate is higher than average compared to other occupations. Also, there will be new job openings because many of these workers will retire in the near future.

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18. Associate’s Degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology

Growing technological sophistication and complexity in medical equipment has created a need for trained technicians able to understand and apply engineering, electrical, and electronic principles and technical skills. An associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology prepares you with these skills to impact a growing industry.

This degree gives you the opportunity to learn about and work with medical equipment. The equipment is used in a variety of settings including hospitals, physician offices, and medical laboratories. Sample courses include Semiconductor Applications, DC/AC Circuit Analysis, Design and Manufacturing in the Medical Device Industry, and Introduction to Medical Device Regulations and Ethics.

Job: Medical Equipment Repairer

The most common way to become a medical equipment repairer is earning an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering. To advance in the field, you may need a bachelor’s degree.

Medical equipment repairers are also called biomedical equipment technicians (BMET). They maintain and fix a variety of health care equipment including hydraulic hospital beds, ultrasound machines, CAT scanners, MRI scanners, defibrillators, x-ray machines, patient monitors, voice controlled operating tables, and electric wheelchairs. They may also work with sophisticated medical equipment used by dentists, optometrists, and ophthalmologists.

In order to do their job properly, repairers must learn how to use tools like soldering irons, multimeters, specialized computers, and industry software to perform their duties. Evaluating equipment using software requires being able to interpret diagnostic information and then determine the appropriate action to make the equipment operable.

In May 2010, medical equipment repairers earned an median annual salary of $44,490, or $21.39 per hour.

Projections indicate that employment opportunities for this field will grow by 27% from 2008 to 2018. This growth rate is much faster than most other occupations. New repairer jobs will be created because the demand for health care will increase as a large portion of the population nears old age. Also, medical equipment is becoming more sophisticated, so hospitals and other health care organizations will need skilled repairers.

As a result of the rapid job growth, repairers should enjoy excellent job opportunities. You can increase your chances of employment by earning an associate’s degree.

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19. Associate’s Degree in Health Information Technology

An associate’s degree in health information technology prepares you to manage electronic and paper health records for tasks such as insurance coding and billing. The courses give you an understanding of security strategies and methods for protecting the privacy of patient information.

Specific class topics include medical terminology, science, computer and records security, standardized coding, and insurance reimbursement methods. A typical program also includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, and terminology.

You learn about data coding requirements for clinical classifications, coding systems, data analysis, and healthcare reimbursement methods. Computers are an important part of health records, so you go over subjects like database security and database management.

Sample course titles include Medical Terminology, Basic ICD-9-CM Coding, Medical Insurance and Billing, Automation of Health Information, and Reimbursement Methodologies.

Jobs: Medical Records and Health Information Technician

You usually need an associate’s degree to work as an entry-level medical records or health information technician. Also, it helps to become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).

Medical records and health information technicians organize and keep track of patient information, from symptoms and treatments to test results and medical history. These workers make sure the information is accurate, secure, and accessible. They communicate with doctors and other health workers to keep their data updated.

Technicians must be adaptable as job responsibilities change because of the growing use of electronic health records (EHR). To work with EHRs, technicians must learn about specific software programs, security methods, and data analysis principles.

The median annual salary for these workers was $32,350, or $15.55 per hour, in May 2010.

Employment opportunities are expected to be very good especially if you are skilled in the relevant technologies and computer applications. New job openings will be created because of an aging population, an increase in people covered by health insurance, an increase in medical tests and procedures, and an expansion of EHR systems.

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20. Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology

If you are interested in working with animals, but do not want to be in school for eight years to earn a veterinary degree, consider earning an associate’s degree in veterinary technology. This degree can be earned in only two years. It trains you to operate veterinary equipment and perform basic veterinary tasks like anesthetizing, analyzing laboratory samples, and taking x-rays.

Sample course titles include Veterinary Medical Terminology, Parasitology, Surgical Assistance, Anatomy for Veterinary Technicians, and Small Animal Nursing and Health Management. Along with traditional classwork, accredited programs give you opportunities to work with live animals in clinicals and in the laboratory.

If you are a high school student interested in this degree, you should take many science, biology, and math courses to help you understand the college classes.

Jobs: Veterinary Technologist and Technician

To become a veterinary technician, you typically need an associate’s degree in veterinary technology from a community college accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The usual requirement for veterinary technologist positions is a bachelor’s degree in the same major.

The duties of veterinary technologists and technicians are often very similar. Typical tasks include completing laboratory tests like blood counts and urinalysis, preparing tissue samples, administering medications, taking animal vital signs, assisting with diagnostic testing, assisting with dental care, and maintaining animal records. Both workers provide care to a variety of animals of different sizes, from home pets to farm animals.

Technicians normally work in private clinics. Technologists work in those settings too, but they can also work in research positions because of their higher level of education.

Technicians and technologists earned a median annual salary of $29,710, or $14.28 per hour, in May 2010.

The field of veterinary technology should have excellent job prospects for both technicians and technologists. Job openings will be partly due to the low number of graduates from two-year degree programs, which is not expected to meet workforce demand during 2008-2018.

This concludes the degrees that lead to very good or excellent job opportunities. The next 25 degrees lead to good or favorable job opportunites, which means job openings are expected to be in rough balance with job seekers. The degrees are ranked by annual median salary.

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21. Doctor of Podiatric Medicine Degree

A doctor of podiatric medicine degree is a four year program with a similar curriculum in the early years to other doctorate degrees in medicine. In the first two years, you learn about fundamental sciences such as chemistry, pharmacology, and anatomy. In the last two years, you gain practical experience in clinicals at hospitals and other health care settings. You learn how to take podiatric histories, perform physical exams and therapeutic procedures, analyze findings, and make accurate diagnoses.

To gain admission into a program, you need 90 semester undergraduate hours or more, a good grade point average, and high scores in the MCAT. Some schools may accept Dental Admission Test or GRE scores. In 2008, there were eight schools that offered doctoral podiatric medicine degrees accredited by the Council on Podiatric Medical Education.

Job: Podiatrist

To become a podiatrist, you need to earn a doctor of podiatric medicine degree, pass state and national tests, and get licensed.

Podiatrists are also called doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). They treat foot and lower leg diseases and injuries. For example, they help patients deal with calluses, bunions, ankle injuries, foot infections, and ingrown toenails. To alleviate pain and accelerate the healing process, they recommend physical therapy exercises and drugs, set broken bones, and perform surgeries.

They also create custom shoes, design foot casts, and develop orthotics (shoe inserts for correcting deformities). To help them create the proper shapes for orthotics, podiatrists may use a foot scanner. Patients walk on the scanner and it gathers data on their feet. Podiatrists analyze the data to develop orthotics designs that fit their patients’ feet or prescribe a different type of treatment.

Podiatrists earned a median annual salary of $118,030, or $56.75 per hour, in May 2010.

Job prospects should be good for this field. New graduates will find better job opportunities in clinics, health systems, and group practices than in solo practices. You can improve your employment opportunities by earning the board certification because some health care organizations require this credential.

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22. Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering

A bachelor’s degree in engineering is a broad degree that covers a wide range of disciplines such as science, math, sociology, and economics. The field of engineering applies these disciplines to create and design a variety of products, from machines, equipment, building structures, and materials to systems and processes.

The fundamental courses of this degree give you a strong foundation in math and science. You may also have courses in general engineering, social science, and design. The design course may have laboratory and computer elements.

Most engineering programs allow you to choose an area of emphasis. The majority of engineering undergraduate students specialize in electrical, electronics, mechanical, or civil engineering. However, engineers with a specific specialization can work in other related industries. For example, workers who were trained in mechanical engineering often work as aerospace engineers.

This employment flexibility helps organizations fill positions when there is a lack of engineering specialists in the workforce for the jobs. Also, it allows engineers to move to industries with better job opportunities or to fields which interest them more.

Job: Engineer

To land an entry-level engineer job, you usually need a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Engineers use science and math to create solutions for technical issues and problems. They provide the link between the findings in research and development and the products that go out to the commercial marketplace.

Many engineers create products. During the production process, they monitor different factors to improve the features of the prototype. For example, when developing a robot, they test different parts to discover which build provides the most effectiveness at a reasonable cost. This process applies to a wide range of products, from chemicals and toys to computers and helicopters.

The median annual salary for engineers varies depending on industry. In May 2010, salaries ranged from $71,090 ($34.18/hour) for agricultural engineers to $114,080 ($54.85/hour) for petroleum engineers.

Job prospects for engineers are predicted to be good. Some specialties may have excellent opportunities. For example, petroleum engineers should not have a hard time finding a job because of job growth and the low number of graduates with a petroleum engineering skill set.

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23. Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies

Physician assistant training is based on the education model for medical degrees. However, while medical degrees are four years long plus a residency, physician assistant programs usually last only two to three years.

The master’s degree in physician assistant studies is one of most common programs for aspiring physician assistants. This program covers a range of medical topics in the classroom and laboratory. You go over subjects such as microbiology, pathology, diagnosis, hematology, anatomy, and pharmacology.

You also gain practical knowledge with clinicals in a variety of settings. For example, you may find yourself learning in a busy emergency room at a hospital, watching a pediatric doctor interact with children, or observing a surgeon in the middle of a surgery. Other clinical rotations may include oncology, internal medicine, geriatric medicine, and gynecology.

Job: Physician Assistant

To become a physician assistant, you must finish an accredited program and pass a test to get licensed.

Physician assistants, or PAs, provide health services while being supervised by physicians. Their tasks are often delegated by doctors and include taking medical histories, treating patients, ordering tests and x-rays, and making diagnoses.

PAs instruct patients with useful medical information, keep track of their health progress, and recommend therapy for them. They also provide prescriptions for medicine. In some organizations, PAs have administrative responsibilities. They may be in charge of purchasing medical equipment and supplies or managing medical technicians.

PAs earned a median annual salary of $86,410, or $41.54 per hour, in May 2010.

Job prospects for these workers are expected to be good. Inner city and rural clinics in particular should have many job openings because they have difficulty hiring doctors. Also, you will have better opportunities in states that allow PAs to do more medical tasks.

Physicians and organizations are predicted to hire more PAs because they are productive health care workers and they cost less than doctors. In addition, PAs can perform some of the doctor’s duties.

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24. Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

The doctor of physical therapy degree is the professional degree offered by 96% of the physical therapist graduate programs in the US. This degrees prepare you to practice physical therapy in various workplace settings.

The curriculum goes over four broad subjects: foundational science, behavioral science, clinical science, and practices specific to physical therapists. Foundational science courses include anatomy, neuroscience, pathology, and physiology. Behavioral science courses cover topics such as psychology, ethics, communication, and reasoning.

Clinical science classes cover human body systems like the musculoskeletal, metabolic, cardiovascular, and neuromuscular systems. Classes about physical therapy teach you practical topics like prevention, patient/client interaction, wellness, care delivery, and social advocacy.

Also, there is clinical component to the degree. Licensed physical therapists supervise you in clinical rotations as you treat patients with different medical conditions and problems.

Job: Physical Therapist

To enter the physical therapist profession, you must earn an accredited post-baccalaureate degree in physical therapy. Also, states regulate physical therapists, which means you usually need to pass government examinations.

Physical therapists, also known as PTs, treat patients of all ages. They work with patients who have medical conditions or injuries that prevent them from moving and doing everyday tasks at work and at home.

PTs evaluate each patient and create a custom plan with treatment methods (like exercises and assistive devices) to increase body movement, lower pain, and prevent injury. Also, PTs develop fitness programs to help people avoid the loss of mobility.

These workers earned a median annual salary of $76,310, or $36.69 per hour, in May 2010.

PTs should have good job prospects in all settings. Opportunities will be especially good in workplaces where the elderly are often cared for (like acute hospitals, skilled nursing settings, and orthopedic departments). As the elderly population increases, the demand of physical therapists will grow because the elderly are vulnerable to medical problems that require therapy services.

In addition, you should find more job openings in rural locations because PTs tend to look for jobs in cities or suburbs.

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25. Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy

A bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy typically takes four years to complete. It combines classroom studies with clinical training to prepare you to provide radiation health care services to cancer patients and patients with other diseases. You learn how to assess patient needs, determine the likelihood of success for different treatments, and carry out recommended treatments in an effective manner.

Sample courses include Radiation Therapy, Nuclear Medicine, Management and Methods of Patient Care, Radiation Safety and Protection, and Radiation Biology. Some schools work with hospitals and other health care facilities to provide internships for their students.

In 2009, there were 102 radiation therapy degrees accredited by the ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists).

Job: Radiation Therapist

To become employed as a radiation therapist, you generally need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy and certification. Some states require you to also get licensed. As you gain experience in the field, you can advance to a managerial role.

Radiation therapists operate complex radiation equipment called linear accelerators to treat patients. They usually treat cancer patients but they can also care for patients suffering with other conditions.

They collaborate with other health workers like oncologists and medical physicists to provide optimum care. For example, radiation oncologists consult with patients to develop a radiation treatment plan and then radiation therapists carry out the plan.

During treatment, radiation therapists keep track of the patient’s condition to see how he is reacting to it. Therapists must also be mindful of the patient’s emotional state. Many patients are stressed out, so it is important for therapists to be encouraging and have a positive attitude.

Radiation therapists earned a median annual salary of $74,980, or $36.05 per hour, in May 2010.

Job opportunities for these workers should be good. You can improve your chances of getting hired by earning a bachelor’s degree and getting relevant work experience.

New job openings will be created because of the growing number of senior citizens who will need radiation treatment. Also, radiation technology is becoming safer and more effective, so it will be used more often to treat patients.

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26. Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy

A master’s degree in occupational therapy is a graduate degree that educates you on the principles and processes for helping injured or disabled people regain or improve their ability to perform everyday tasks including work-related activities.

You learn how to rehabilitate patients with behavioral, biological, and physical science courses. Also, you take classes about theories and skills specific to occupational therapy. Sample courses include Kinesiology of Occupation, Occupation Across the Life Span, Exercise Physiology, and Neuroscience for Rehab.

Along with the classwork, you gain practical knowledge in accredited programs. These programs require you to complete at least 24 weeks of fieldwork.

Upon graduation, you should be able help people make goals for improvement and perform the tasks they need to do at home, school, or work. By helping them improve their ability to function, you can make their lives more meaningful and productive.

Job: Occupational Therapist

You usually need at least a master’s degree in occupational therapy to become an occupational therapist. Also, your degree must be accredited by the ACOTE (Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education) so you can take the certification test.

Occupational therapists help patients who suffer from developmental, emotional, physical, or mental disabilities. They provide rehabilitative services so that their clients can become more productive and independent at work and at home.

Using specialized treatment methods and exercises, they teach patients how to develop and maintain work skills and daily living skills. Occupational therapists also help clients compensate for permanent function loss.

These workers earned a median annual salary of $72,320, or $34.77 per hour, in May 2010.

You should enjoy good job prospects as an occupational therapist as long as you are licensed. Certain settings like acute hospitals and orthopedic departments will have many job openings. Also, you can improve your employment chances by specializing in a patient group, industry, or niche. For example, drivers and the elderly are increasingly seeking occupational therapy services and ergonomic consulting is a growing field for occupational therapists.

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27. Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene

An associate’s degree in dental hygiene equips you with skills to clean and care for teeth and gums. You receive instruction in topics such as pathology, histology, anatomy, chemistry, physiology, microbiology, gum disease, dental materials, nutrition, and pharmacology.

This degree usually requires clinicals. In these practical training sessions, you treat patients under the supervision of an experienced worker. The knowledge gained from clinicals helps you pass the licensing test.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation accredits dental hygiene programs. Most of them lead to an associate’s degree; although some schools grant a certificate and others offer a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Job: Dental Hygienist

To work as a dental hygienist, you need a accredited dental hygiene degree and a license from the state.

Dental hygienists usually work in dentist offices. They gather patient information for dentists by examining patients’ teeth and recording any findings of disease or disorders. Dentists use their information to determine treatments.

Hygienists also clean teeth by removing teeth deposits. They instruct patients on proper hygiene activities. For example, they demonstrate proper brushing and flossing technique and give advice on nutrition as it relates to oral health.

They use a variety of equipment to do their duties. They operate hand instruments and ultrasonic tools to remove tartar, teeth stains, and plaque. Hygienists also use x-ray equipment to take x-rays of teeth and gums.

These workers earned an annual median salary of $68,250, or $32.81 per hour, in May 2010.

Employment opportunities are forecasted to be favorable in most locations. Areas that have many dental hygiene programs may experience competition for hygienist positions.

Job growth will occur as new graduates replace older dentists who stop working. New dentists are more likely to hire hygienists than older dentists. Also, job openings may be created as the demand for dental work increases. Dentists will probably employ hygienists to take over their less complex tasks so they can focus on more sophisticated dental procedures.

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28. Doctor of Chiropractic Degree

The doctor of chiropractic degree, or DC degree, is given upon completion of a chiropractic program. It requires at least 4,200 hours of classroom work, laboratory experience, and clinical training.

The first two years usually focus on learning about science topics like public health, biochemistry, anatomy, and microbiology. The last two years cover more specialized topics in the chiropractic field. You also participate in clinicals in areas like neurology, geriatrics, nutrition, and orthopedics.

There were sixteen accredited chiropractic programs in the US in 2009. These programs received accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education. To qualify for admission, you need at least 90 undergraduate hours including classes in social science, English, chemistry, psychology, and biology.

Job: Chiropractor

To become a chiropractor, you need to earn a chiropractic degree and pass one or more tests to get a license from the state.

Chiropractors, or chiropractic physicians, care for people experiencing medical problems related to the musculoskeletal system. Treatments often have to do with the spine. Chiropractors adjust the spine because they believe that certain spine alignments are more conducive to disease prevention and optimum health.

Chiropractors look at health care from a holistic perspective. They offer natural treatments without drugs or surgery, relying instead on the human body’s ability to recover. They also realize that there are many different elements to health, from exercise and nutrition to environment and rest. Chiropractors suggest lifestyle changes to patients that can improve their overall health. Sometimes they send patients to or seek the advice of other health care workers.

The median annual salary of chiropractors in May 2010 was $67,200, or $32.31 per hour.

Job opportunities should be good for new chiropractors. Multi-disciplined practices with professionals from different fields like medicine, physical therapy, and chiropractic are expected to have many open positions. These practices may grow in popularity because they are cost effective and convenient for patients, providing multiple health services under one organization.

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29. Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology

A master’s degree in speech-language pathology gives you the skills to treat speech and language disorders. You learn how to help people overcome these disorders with a customized therapy plan.

The curriculum covers topics such as speech generation, language, anatomy, speech disorders, acoustics, psychology, and physiology. You may also participate in clinicals to get practical training and experience.

The Council on Academic Accreditation is the agency under the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association that accredits college degrees in speech-language pathology. You don’t have to enroll in an accredited program, but accreditation is required to get a license in some states. Also, it is needed to get professional recognition from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Around 240 schools offered accredited graduate programs in speech-language pathology in 2009.

Job: Speech-Language Pathologist

To become a speech-language pathologist, you typically need a master’s degree. A master’s degree is the most commonly held graduate degree by speech-language pathologists. Depending on the state, you may also need a license or certification to work.

Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, provide therapy services for people struggling with speech disorders. They treat a variety of disorders including stuttering, language problems, unclear speech, voice disorders, swallowing conditions, and cognitive communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists use tools and assessment techniques to diagnose disorders and choose the appropriate treatment.

There are many different things that cause speech disorders. Individuals may have difficulties speaking properly after a stroke. Learning disabilities and mental retardation can affect speech ability. Also, some people develop disorders after experiencing hearing loss, brain injury, or emotional problems.

In May 2010, speech-language pathologists earned an annual median salary of $66,920, or $32.17 per hour.

Job prospects for these workers are expected to be favorable. If you are bilingual, you should have an advantage over pathologists who only speak one language. Also, being willing to relocate should improve your employment chances because demand for speech therapy services can be regional.

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30. Doctor of Audiology Degree

The doctor of audiology, or AuD, degree, is a professional degree that educates you to become an audiologist. AuD programs are designed to equip you with skills to diagnose hearing disorders and provide rehabilitation services to treat them.

The curriculum has a strong clinical training component and most programs have a research element. Sample courses include Basic Auditory Sciences, Anatomy and Physiology of Balance, Deaf Culture, Hearing Disorders, and Psychoacoustics.

You can generally finish an AuD program in four years if you have completed training in speech-language pathology and audiology science. If you do not have this background, you may have to earn a second bachelor’s degree. Another option is enrolling in a five year program designed for students without the prior relevant training.

Job: Audiologist

While a master’s degree can qualify you for some audiologist positions, a doctorate degree gives you better job opportunities. 18 states required a doctorate degree in 2009. Along with the education requirements, you must get licensed to practice audiology.

Audiologists help people dealing with hearing, balance, and other ear related problems. They examine people of all ages and help them cope with auditory problems. They use a variety of equipment, from audiometers to computers, to measure hearing ability and the extent at which hearing deficiency affects daily life. Computers are also used to diagnose balance difficulties.

Based on their findings, audiologists develop treatment plans. Treatment includes a variety of procedures and solutions. Audiologists clean the ear canal, recommend and fit hearing devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants, and teach listening techniques. To treat balance disorders, audiologists often work with other professionals like physical therapists and physicians.

In May 2010, Audiologists earned a median annual salary of $66,660, or $32.05 per hour.

Employment opportunities for this field should be favorable as long as you hold an AuD degree. Job openings may be greater in places with many retirees.

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31. Bachelor’s Degree in Communications

A bachelor’s degree in communications helps you become an expert in something people take part in everyday: communication. This broad degree opens up a variety of careers and paths for you. You learn how to deliver strategic messages through new media, magazines, newspapers, social networks, and other avenues of communication.

Examples of classes you might take include: Theory and Models of Communication, Research Methods, Fundamentals of Journalism, Professional Writing for Successful Communication, and Communicating Through Media and Technology. Also, some programs offer concentrations like journalism, public relations, and advertising so you can specialize in an industry.

Upon graduation, you should have an understanding of the most common communication channels as well as skills to help organizations get their messages across to their target audience.

Job: Technical Writer

To become a technical writer, you typically need a bachelor’s degree. Employers often look for students who majored in communications, journalism, or English. Some positions require experience and knowledge in a specific field like medicine, chemistry, or engineering.

Technical writers, also known as technical communicators, translate technical concepts and jargon into more understandable language. They often work in IT related fields and write documentation for computer programs, how-to manuals, and instruction manuals.

Technical writers also work in health care, engineering, and science fields. They take highly technical material and through clear writing explain the concepts for a diverse audience including people who have limited exposure and expertise in the industry.

In May 2010, technical writers earned a median annual salary of $63,280, or $30.42 per hour.

Job opportunities should be good for writers with strong communication and writing skills and a background in technical topics. Web design experience and being familiar with computer graphics can also help you find a job because more companies are putting their technical documentation on the internet.

New jobs will be created as more people rely on complex technology products at home and at work. In addition, more technical writers will be needed to help families and individuals understand relevant scientific and medical information.

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32. Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture

A bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture prepares you to design public spaces and other locations for both functional use and aesthetic beauty. You learn design skills that can be applied to develop attractive parks, playgrounds, gardens, campuses, residential areas, and shopping centers.

The curriculum covers subjects like landscape design, ecology, urban planning, and surveying. Also, you may learn about geology, management, plants and soils, and the history of landscape architecture.

The design studio is an important part of this degree. In the studio, you can work on real-world projects and gain experience using computer-aided design tools, video simulation programs, and geographic information systems.

You can get more practical training by working as an intern in the summer at a landscape architecture firm. Internships allow you to apply what you learn from your studies in a workplace setting. In addition, you learn about daily business operations.

Job: Landscape Architect

You generally need at least a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture to qualify for a landscape architect position. Also, most states require licensure. Licensing requirements vary between states, but they usually include an accredited degree, experience, and a passing grade on the registration test.

Landscape architects design areas, landscapes, and grounds. They plan locations for buildings and decide where to build roads and sidewalks. They arrange the placement of plants, trees, and flowers. They also help restore natural areas like forested land, mined places, and wetlands.

To help them develop attractive and functional spaces, landscape architects work with surveyors, engineers, and building architects. When dealing with natural resources, they may contact foresters and environment scientists for input on conservation and restoration principles.

In May 2010, landscape architects earned a median annual salary of $62,090, or $29.85 per hour.

These workers are expected to have good employment prospects as the demand for their services grows. Many companies seek architects with internship experience because the experience reduces the amount of training needed. You can improve your job opportunities by developing technical skills and learning about environmental regulations and codes.

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33. Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science

A bachelor’s degree in environmental science focuses on physiography and analyzing data because they are useful for understanding environmental topics like pollution control, water use, and ecosystem restoration. The curriculum also provides a interdisciplinary foundation in the natural sciences including courses in biology, geology, and chemistry.

You can take more specialized classes to customize your degree and gain knowledge in areas within the environment industry. Depending on the school, courses may cover subjects like waste management, hydrology, geologic logging, environmental regulations, fluid mechanics, and geochemistry.

Job: Environmental Scientist and Specialist

A bachelor’s degree is the usual education requirement to land a job as an environmental scientist and specialist.

Environmental scientists and specialists protect the environment by applying their expertise in the natural sciences. They tackle environmental problems and develop solutions that do not hurt the environment or lower the negative effects on the environment. Also, their solutions are designed to protect the health of the surrounding population.

Environmental scientists and specialists measure and analyze data on natural resources like water, air, and soil. Based on their findings, they determine ways to clean and preserve the environment. They seek to understand environmental issues like recycling, conservation, and replenishment to make progess on their work.

These workers can often be found in government agencies and organizations. As government workers, they monitor individuals and companies to make sure they are following environmental codes and regulations. Also, they research the impact of environmental change on people’s health. They look for disease risk in the population and educate the public with information about health hazards.

The median annual salary for environmental scientists and specialists was $61,700, or $29.66 per hour, in May 2010.

Employment opportunities for this field are expected to be good especially in the government sector. State and local governments should have many job openings.

Much of the job growth will be caused by population growth and its impact on the environment and the increasing awareness of environmental problems and their effects on society.

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34. Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting

A bachelor’s degree in accounting prepares you to keep accurate financial records for businesses of all sizes. You learn how to record transactions in business accounts, prepare financial statements and reports, and use technology to organize and track financial data. Also, you learn about specific accounting principles and methods for different fields like manufacturing, taxation, nonprofits, and auditing.

Sample courses include Intermediate Accounting, Auditing, Corporate Taxation, Advanced Accounting, and Accounting Systems. Along with the accounting classes, you take fundamental business classes to give you a broad understanding of major business elements like marketing, management, economics, and finance.

Jobs: Accountant and Auditor

To work as an accountant or auditor, you generally need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related major. Certifications like CPA (Certified Public Accountant) can be earned to increase your qualifications and advance your career.

Accountants and auditors help organizations run smoothly and efficiently by tracking financial information and making sure taxes are paid on time. They communicate the health of a business by providing financial statements and reports to managers, administrators, shareholders, customers, and government agencies.

The accounting industry can be divided into four broad fields: public, management, government, and internal. Public accountants work for firms that provide accounting services to corporations and other organizations. One of their most common tasks is auditing the public financial information of businesses.

Management accountants are the in-house accountants of companies. Along with financial recordkeeping tasks, they may also be involved in budgeting, resource management, and performance evaluation.

Government accountants work in various public agencies. They maintain the financial records of government organizations and audit private businesses to see if they are complying with government regulations.

Internal accountants provide in-house auditing services to evaluate and improve the efficiency and accuracy of recordkeeping procedures, financial information systems, and internal controls. They also investigate business dealings for waste, fraud, and poor management.

Accountant and auditors earned a median annual salary of $61,690, or $29.66, in May 2010.

Employment prospects are forecasted to be favorable for these workers. You can improve your job opportunities by earning a professional certification. Also, it may help to become proficient in popular accounting software and specialize in a field like international business, accounting legislation, and international financial reporting.

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35. Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science

A bachelor’s degree in agricultural science is a four year undergraduate degree that gives you a broad education in agriculture. You learn about technology, management, and agriculture and research principles. Courses can be divided between business and science related subjects. Business classes cover topics like management and marketing while science classes go over subjects like farming and ecosystem preservation.

Many agricultural programs allow you to choose an area of emphasis. For example, you can focus on agricultural engineering and gain skills to design tools and develop new technology or you can specialize in microbiology and study the microorganisms that affect the agriculture industry.

Every state has a land-grant school that offers programs in agricultural science. Other institutions offer similar programs.

Jobs: Agricultural and Food Scientist

Most scientist positions in the agriculture and food processing industry require a bachelor’s degree.

Agricultural scientists research crops and animals and discover new ways to increase their quantity and improve their quality. They develop methods to contain weeds and pests and conserve water and soil. They also work on converting commodities into food products and fuels.

Food scientists and technologists are generally employed by food processing companies, universities, and federal government agencies. They create new food products and improve existing ones. They also apply concepts from physics, biotechnology, engineering, and chemistry to improve food preservation, processing, storage, and delivery.

Biotechnology has become an emerging field in agriculture because of recent advancements in genetics. Agricultural and food scientists apply biotechnology techniques to modify plant genes to increase production and make plants more resistant to disease.

Agricultural and food scientists earned similar salaries in May 2010. Agricultural scientists who worked with animals had a median annual salary of $58,250 ($28.00/hour) while those working with plants and soils earned $57,340 ($27.57/hour). Food scientists and technologists made $60,180 ($28.93/hour).

Job prospects for these workers are predicted to be good in most fields. If you hold a bachelor’s degree, you should have very good employment opportunities in the agronomy, food science, and food technology industries.

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36. Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction

A master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is a graduate degree that offers good job opportunities for educators aiming for key positions in the field of education leadership.

The coursework focuses on topics that help you develop skills to create strong curriculums for organizations such as colleges and universities. Classes go over basic doctrines relating to teaching and how the most important educational movements evolved over time. You are taught the many ways students learn and the best ways to keep track of their learning.

The needs of individuals and educational institutions differ, so this degree shows you how to apply the instructional concepts to various learning environments.

Sample courses include Curriculum Integration of Educational Technology, Educational Movements, Education Diverse Populations, The History of Curriculum, and Program Evaluation.

Job: Instructional Coordinator

The usual minimal requirement for this job is master’s degree in an education-related field. If you want to work in a public school, you often need a state teacher or administrator license as well.

Instructional coordinators are also known as curriculum specialists, instructional coaches, directors of instructional material, and personnel development specialists. They play an important role in the improvement of formal education. One of their main tasks is evaluating the level of success of curriculums and teaching materials. If they are not meeting the students’ needs, they provide advice and guidance to improve those learning tools.

Other functions range from developing course structure and material to assessing the quality of educational programs and ensuring they meet regulations. They may also select books and learning material for classes, train teachers, and even setup new technology for the classroom.

Instructional coordinators employed at the primary or secondary school level often have a specialization like math, science, or reading.

In May 2010, instructional coordinators earned a median annual salary of $58,830, or $28.28 an hour.

Job opportunities for this position are favorable particularly if you have a specialization in reading, math, or science. These subjects have been targeted by the No Child Left Behind Act as needing improvement. Instructional coordinators will also be needed to train teachers to effectively use technology in the classroom.

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37. Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management

A bachelor’s degree in construction management combines the concepts of engineering and design with important business management skills, enabling you to plan and coordinate both residential and commercial construction projects.

The focus of the degree is the design, creation, implementation, and management of construction projects. You learn about the elements that need to be organized and monitored to have a successful project. These elements range from quality, cost, hours worked, and safety issues.

Apart from general courses, this degree covers the fundamental concepts of construction methods, legal topics, and management theory. Sample courses include Construction Surveying and Construction Estimating, Drafting and Plan Reading, Legal Practices in Construction, and Safety and Industrial Construction.

Job: Cost Estimator

A bachelor’s degree in construction management (or a related degree) is increasingly becoming a preferred credential for cost estimator positions. Employers look for this degree because it usually includes classes in cost estimating.

Cost estimators are a vital part of the construction process. They come up with accurate estimates for building projects based on realistic, up-to-date cost information. Their estimates are required for successful contract bidding. Also, they are needed to assess profit potential.

Cost estimators collect data about location, labor, building materials, building time, machinery, and equipment and then analyze it to determine their estimates.

These workers are also called upon by architects and engineering firms to manage the costs of projects. They create a budget and monitor the actual costs as the project progresses. During construction, they may work on change orders and settle extra costs and claims.

Cost estimators earned a yearly median salary of $57,860, or $27.82 an hour, in May 2010.

Good job prospects are predicted for this position. To increase your chances of employment, you should earn a bachelor’s degree in construction management and get experience in the industry.

Cost estimators will be needed for construction projects to build and rebuild streets and highways, bridges, airports, subways, electric power plants, water and sewage structures, and even transmission lines.

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38. Bachelor’s Degree in Surveying

A bachelor’s degree in surveying involves both practical and theoretical studies to train you to measure, analyze, and manage the spatial data required to identify and define property boundaries. These programs often have a hands-on training component, where you learn how to use surveying equipment.

Technologies such as GPS (global positioning systems) and GIS (geographic information systems) are an important part of the curriculum as well as research analysis. Upon graduation, you should be able to accurately survey and map different types of locations and properties.

Sample courses include Boundary Law, Cartography, Photogrammetry, Survey Measurement Fundamentals, and Advanced Survey Mathematics.

Jobs: Surveyor, Cartographer, and Photogrammetrist

Companies seeking surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists generally prefer graduates with a bachelor’s degree in surveying or a related field. In addition, surveyors must be licensed by the state government.

Surveyors establish the official boundaries of locations. Depending on the specific job, they map the boundaries of areas from bodies of water and airspace to legal land borders. Some work on mineral or construction sites while others plot contours, elevations, and other land features.

Surveyors determine and identify a range of boundaries based on specific reference points. They do this by using specialized equipment that measures distances in different directions and at different angles on, below, or above the surface of the earth. In the case of land, registered records show legal boundaries and surveyors use them to make sure landowners subdivide land accurately for resale and build within their legal limits.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists map the surface of the earth. Their maps provide both physical and social features of land. They gather physical data like longitude, latitude, precipitation, distance, and elevation as well as social data like population, patterns of land use, and demographic statistics.

The median annual salary of surveyors in May 2010 was $54,880 ($26.39/hour) while cartographers and photogrammetrists earned $54,510 ($26.21/hour).

These workers should have favorable job opportunities as long as they have a bachelor’s degree and technical skills. New jobs will be created because many surveyors and cartographers are close to retirement.

The majority of new jobs are predicted to be in engineering, mapping, building inspection, surveying, and drafting services.

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39. Master’s Degree in Library Science

A master’s degree in library science teaches you various skills needed to run and manage a library. Fundamental courses include library and information science. These courses go over the history of books and printing along with topics on intellectual freedom and censorship. Other courses cover the role that libraries play in society. There are also practical courses about selecting and processing library materials, organizing information, methods and strategies for research, and services for users.

You learn about reference systems, online search methods, and circulation systems. You may also choose elective courses about abstracting, cataloging, classification, and indexing; library administration; and resources available for younger people. Computing classes have also become important for aspiring librarians.

While this degree is primarily aimed at general library work, some students specialize in children’s services, reference work, or technical services.

Job: Librarian

Most librarian jobs in public, academic, and special libraries are open only to graduates with a master’s degree in library science.

In the past, libraries were mainly places to find books and other written material. Nowadays libraries also provide us with access to digital material, a range of advanced electronic resources, and internet access to many sources of online information. As a result, librarians are now sometimes called information professionals. They are expected to combine traditional librarian tasks with technology-based tasks.

The basic role of a librarian is to help people find information for either personal or professional purposes. For this reason, librarians need to learn about common information sources – both academic and general – and keep abreast of trends in computers, publishing, and the media to select and organize library materials.

Librarians earned a median annual salary of $54,500, or $26.20 per hour, in May 2010.

Job opportunities for these workers should be favorable. Many librarians are close to retirement, which should lead to an increase in job openings.

The fastest job growth in the field will not be in traditional library settings. Instead, organizations like consulting firms, private companies, and nonprofits will seek librarians because of their organizational and research skills and thorough understanding of automated library systems and computer databases.

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40. Master’s Degree in Counseling

A master’s degree in counseling is a graduate degree that can often be found in the education, human services, or pyschology department of colleges and universities. Counseling is a broad field so there are many different subjects you can learn about.

Courses cover topics such as education, school counseling, student affairs, substance abuse, rehabilitation, and clinical mental health counseling. You can also learn about community counseling, marriage and family therapy, and career counseling.

Related classes are often grouped together to help you connect principles and concepts in your studies. For example, classes may be divided in groupings like human growth and development, career guidance, counseling methods, cultural and social studies, and relationships.

Most accredited programs require 48 to 60 semester credits to graduate, including some time doing clinicals.

Job: Counselor

To get certified or licensed as a counselor, you usually need a master’s degree.

Counselors work in many different settings, depending on their expertise and specialization. Schools counselors work with students, from elementary school to the postsecondary level. They provide guidance for students dealing with academic, personal, social, and career issues.

Vocational, or career, counselors help adults and young adults make career decisions. They usually provide their services outside of school settings.

Rehabilitation counselors help people struggling with disabilities. They provide encouragement and advice and help their clients cope with the undesirable effects of their disabilities.

Behavioral disorder and substance abuse counselors assist people with a range of addictions and disorders, from gambling problems and eating disorders to alcohol addiction and drug abuse. They counsel their clients to identify and overcome their destructive behavior.

The median annual salary for counselors varies from $32,350 ($15.55/hour) for rehabilitation counselors to $53,380 ($25.67/hour) for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors. These figures are from May 2010.

Job prospects for counselors are expected to be good, especially in rural locations. Regarding specialties, substance abuse counselors should have particularly favorable job opportunities.

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41. Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science

An associate degree in mortuary science is a two-year degree designed to give you the skills to succeed in the field of funeral services. There are 60 programs in mortuary science accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. Most of these programs are offered by community colleges and lead to associate degrees. There are also two year programs from funeral service institutions.

In this degree, you take courses in pathology, physiology, embalming techniques, anatomy, business management, client services, accounting, and the use of computers in a funeral home. Other topics include grief counseling, ethics, law and regulations, and psychology.

Job: Funeral Director

In every state, funeral directors must be licensed. To gain a license, most states require you to be 21 years old, have an associate degree, pass an examination, and go through a one year internship.

Throughout history, there have been different procedures for funeral rites. However, most cultures have common mortuary elements such as preparing the remains of the deceased, moving the deceased to a mortuary, and arranging a ceremony that honors the deceased. Funeral directors manage these tasks and other related tasks for families who experience tragedy. They also provide comfort.

Funeral directors are also known as morticians and undertakers. Working with the grieving family, they supervise the details and logistics of the funeral. They give advice about location, dates, memorial services, and burials. They make arrangements for a hearse to move the body to the mortuary.

Most funeral directors know how to embalm, which is a sanitary process of preparing the body for burial. State governments usually require the body be emblamed or refrigerated if more than 24 hours pass between death and burial.

Funeral directors earned an annual median salary of $54,370, or $26.14, in May 2009.

Job prospects are predicted to be good for this position. To improve your job opportunities, you should train to become a licensed embalmer. New jobs will be created because funeral directors are usually older than other workers. Many of them are expected to retire over the 2008-2018 time period.

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42. Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

A bachelor’s degree in social work is a four year degree that prepares you to become an effective social worker. The first two years are mainly filled with liberal arts coursework. The last two years are focused on social work classes, which cover topics like policy/law, social work practice, research, and human development. The Council of Social Work Education requires you to complete 400 hours of field education or internship.

You learn many skills in this type of program including how to assist families, organizations, children, and communities with interpersonal, medical, and financial challenges. You gain a better understanding about social environments, human behavior, social justice, economic justice, and human rights.

Also, you learn how to create research projects that give you useful data to help you make good decisions. Many programs provide opportunities to exercise leadership skills, become active in the community, volunteer for organizations, and participate in government.

Job: Social Worker

A bachelor’s degree in social work is the usual credential needed to become a social worker.

Social workers play a crucial role in people’s lives on a daily basis. If a family is having financial or personal problems, social workers can point out resources available to them in the community. Social workers also help people deal with issues like disabilities, lack of good housing, substance abuse, and unemployment.

Social workers help families dealing with child abuse and domestic abuse. They are also involved with policy development and raise awareness for services that can help the community.

The median annual salary for these workers varies depending on the area of work. Healthcare social workers earned $47,230 ($22.71/hour) in May 2010 while social workers for children, families, and schools earned $40,210 ($19.33/hour). Mental health and substance abuse social workers earned $38,600 ($18.56/hour). All other social workers earned $51,500 ($24.76/hour).

Job opportunities should be favorable. However, there may be competition in locations with training programs for social workers. Good job prospects are expected in rural areas and social workers with expertise in gerontology and substance abuse treatment may have an advantage getting a job over other social workers.

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43. Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems

A bachelor’s degree in information systems is similar to bachelor’s degrees in computer science and information technology. The difference is in the broadness of the information systems field. This degree is one of the broadest credentials in the computer industry. A diverse set of subjects are covered like business, communications, and math as well as typical IT topics like networks and software design.

Information systems covers many topics so you can have the tools to create useful systems to support all kinds of companies with their computing tasks and goals.

Some programs allow you to choose a minor or concentration to customize your education. If you seek specialized accreditation, ABET evaluates programs in computing and technology to make sure they meet educational standards.

Job: Computer Support Specialist

There are many ways to become a computer support specialist. Many employers want you to have some formal education. A bachelor’s degree in information systems is a requirement for some positions. Other jobs may only need an associate degree.

Computer support specialists help employees and customers understand and use technology. They troubleshoot technical problems and give guidance to computer users. They work for companies that rely on computer systems, hardware and software firms, and computer support organizations that provide technical assistance on a contract basis (like help-desk service companies).

There are two common types of computer support specialists: technical support specialists and help-desk technicians. Technical support specialists work within an organization and reply to technical questions from employees. They run diagnostic applications to solve problems. Also, they provide training for the use of new hardware and software.

Help-desk technicians provide technical assistance to customers on the phone or through email. They communicate with customers to identify the computer problem and then walk them through steps to solve the problem.

Computer support specialists earned a median annual salary of $46,260, or $22.24 per hour, in May 2010.

Job opportunities for this position should be good. You can increase your chances of employment by earning a bachelor’s degree, developing technical and communication skills, and getting work experience.

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44. Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education

A bachelor’s degree in health education helps you develop communication skills to teach people about health care. You learn about common issues that health educators have to deal with. You learn how to apply education principles to health problems in communities. You also explore the best tactics for planning and implementing health campaigns.

Upon graduation, you should have a good understanding of how health education can improve the health of a community while being mindful of cultural and social issues that you have to deal with.

This program gives you the tools to create effective health campaigns that make a difference in the community. Courses go over topics such as psychology, drugs, changing health behavior, nutrition, human development, promotion and planning, and stress management.

Job: Health Educator

To get a job as an entry-level health educator, you usually need a bachelor’s degree in health education.

Health educators promote health care and wellness in a community by educating people about disease prevention, injuries, and other heath issues. They seek to prevent disease and sickness by teaching relevant health care topics like nutrition, exercise, and sexually transmitted diseases.

They start this process by assessing their audience and choosing which topics would be appropriate to cover. They may promote a campaign to women about breast cancer. For college students, they may have programs on binge drinking and its dangers. Health educators must take their audience into account to have the most impact with their programs.

In May 2010, the median annual salary for health educators was $45,830, or $22.03 an hour.

Job opportunities for this field are predicted to be favorable. You can improve your job prospects by working in an internship or volunteering.

With health care costs rising, health educators should be more in demand. Insurance companies, businesses, and governments are seeking ways to lower costs. One of the cost-effective ways is to hire health educators to teach good health practices so that people can avoid expensive treatments in the future.

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45. Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training

A bachelor’s degree in athletic training prepares you for positions in allied health care. The program educates you in the treatment and rehabilitation of injuries dealing with the musculoskeletal systems of the body. Also, you learn practices for injury prevention.

Sample courses include Nutrition for Physical Performance, Concepts of Fitness and Wellness, Therapeutic Exercise, Administration of Athletic Training, and Exercise Physiology. Along with the classwork, you gain practical experience in clinicals at settings such as schools and physical therapy clinics. Some programs even allow you to observe live surgeries and cadaver dissections.

In 2009, there were around 350 accredited undergraduate degrees in athletic training nationwide.

Job: Athletic Trainer

An accredited bachelor’s degree is required for most athletic trainer positions. In 2009, 47 states also required licensing or registration.

Athletic trainers are allied health care workers recognized by the AMA (American Medical Association). They specialize in the treating, rehabilitating, and preventing muscle and bone injuries. They are different from fitness or personal trainers, who train people to become fit but are not considered health care workers.

Athletic trainers are often the first health professionals on the scene to provide care to injured people. They are able to quickly assess the status of injuries and provide immediate care if needed. They care for a wide range of people, from athletes to company employees.

They promote injury prevention by educating their clients on ways to lower their risk for injuries including giving advice on safe ways to use equipment and perform exercises. They also know how to apply tape, braces, and bandages to protect different body parts from injury.

The median annual salary for the athletic trainer position was $41,600 in May 2010.

Job opportunities for athletic trainers are expected to be good in high schools and health care settings. If you want to work for a professional or college team, you may face competition.

There is low turnover for these workers, so the best employment prospects will be in areas with the most job growth such as health care, fitness, and recreational centers. Elementary and secondary schools may also see an uptick in new jobs. Some of these jobs require you to teach along with doing typical athletic trainer tasks.

This concludes the degrees that lead to good or favorable job opportunities. The next 6 degrees have good to excellent job opportunities and pay very well. However, their school admissions are competitive. The degrees are ranked by annual median salary.

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46. Doctor of Medicine (MD) Degree

The prestigious doctor of medicine (MD) degree is a professional doctoral degree granted by medical schools. Most MD students have at least a bachelor’s degree. MD programs are usually designed to be finished in four years.

The first two years are spent mostly in classrooms and laboratories. You study courses on topics such as physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, psychology, medicine law, microbiology, pharmacology, ethics, and pathology.

In the last two years, you work with patients in health care workplaces while being supervised by experienced doctors. Through this practical training, you gain insight into patient treatment and learn about chronic, preventive, acute, and rehabilitative patient care. The training covers a wide of range of fields. You work in different areas like family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery.

Medical school admissions are very competitive. The schools are very selective. They evaluate you based on grades, character, leadership abilities, personality, and extracurricular activities. Also, most schools will interview you if you pass the preliminary stage of the admissions process.

Job: Physician

Becoming a physician generally requires four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school to earn an MD degree, and then three to eight years (depending on your specialization) of internship and residency. These education and training requirements are much more strenuous than most occupations.

Physicians diagnose illnesses and diseases, prescribe and administer treatment, examine patients, obtain and evaluate their medical history, order or perform tests, and interpret test results. They also counsel patients on health topics like disease prevention, hygiene, and diet.

Physicians are sometimes divided into primary care, or generalist, physicians and specialist physicians. Specialists work in fields such as anesthesiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and surgery.

In May 2008, primary care physicians earned an annual median salary of $186,044 while specialist physicians earned $339,738.

Job opportunities for these workers are predicted to be very good. Many physicians are expected to retire, creating job openings for new graduates.

There should be more opportunities in rural and low income locations because these areas usually have a hard time attracting physicians. Also, physicians who specialize in health care for the elderly should not have problems finding a job.

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47. Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree

The doctor of dental surgery degree, or DDS degree, has a similar academic schedule as the doctor of medicine (MD) degree. It is typically four years long. The first two years cover medical and dental science topics. You spend time in the classroom and laboratory learning about anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, and clinical sciences (including laboratory techniques).

The last two years focus on clinical training along with continuing didactic courses. You gain practice knowledge by treating patients in dental clinics while being supervised by licensed dentists.

All dental schools require aspiring students to sit for the DAT (Dental Admissions Test). For admissions, dental schools consider your DAT test scores, GPA, interview, and recommendations. Admissions are competitive.

Job: Dentist

In the US, every state and the District of Columbia requires dentists to be licensed in order to practice. The qualifications for a license are a doctoral degree from an accredited dental school and a passing grade on the written and practical tests.

Dentists treat, care for, and clean teeth. They diagnose teeth problems and give advice on brushing, flossing, and fluorides use. They get rid of tooth decay, fill cavities, put sealants on teeth, whiten teeth, and perform surgery on gums and surrounding bones. Dentists also pull teeth and develop dentures to replace the removed teeth.

Dentists are adept at operating dental equipment like drills, probes, scalpels, lasers, scanners, and mouth mirrors. They wear rubber gloves, safety glasses, and masks to protect their patients and themselves from diseases.

The median annual salary in May 2010 of general dentists was $141,040, or $67.81 per hour.

Job opportunities for dentists are expected to be good because many dentists are getting older. They may retire within a few years or work less hours and serve fewer patients. As older dentists retire or work part time schedules, new dentists will be needed to meet the demand for dental services.

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48. Doctor of Pharmacy Degree

The doctor of pharmacy degree, or PharmD degree, is a doctorate degree designed to give you expert knowledge in drug therapy. Along with the coursework on drugs, you learn how to interact with patients and other health care workers as you dispense drugs and give advice and instructions about the drugs. You also take classes covering ethics, public health principles, and management.

The degree typically takes four years to finish and you divide your time between classroom instruction and practical training working with licensed pharmacists.

Admissions to pharmacy programs are competitive because there are many applicants but limited space in pharmacy schools. To qualify for admissions, you need to finish at least two years of specific studies. Usually you need to take classes on math, chemistry, physics, biology, social science, and humanities. Although it is not a requirement, most applicants finish three or more years of college before applying to a PharmD program.

Job: Pharmacist

To become a pharmacist, you must get licensed. All states require you to earn a PharmD degree from an accredited school and pass several tests to receive a license.

The main responsibility of pharmacists is to distribute prescription drugs to individuals. They also give advice to patients, doctors, and other health care professionals concerning the choice, dosage, and side effects of drugs. They monitor the health of patients to ensure they are taking their drugs properly.

Compounding, or mixing ingredients to create medication, is not a big part of pharmacists’ duties. Most drugs are produced in standard dosages and are ready to be dispensed without compounding. Pharmacists generally work in a community settings (like retail drug stores) or in healthcare settings (like hospitals).

These workers earned a median annual salary of $111,570, or $53.64 per hour, in May 2010.

Job opportunities are projected to be excellent. Some employers are having difficulty hiring pharmacists because of the low number of graduates from pharmacy schools. Also, many pharmacists may work part time, which will lead to more job openings to meet the demand for drug prescriptions.

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49. Doctor of Optometry Degree

The doctor of optometry degree is a four year doctorate program designed to give you an advanced education in optometry and related subjects. You take classes and experience clinicals in optics, ocular disease, the neuroanatomy of the eye, vision perception, and vision performance. Also, you gain an understanding in health care topics such as human anatomy, pathology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and epidemiology.

Admissions to these programs are competitive. In 2007, approximately 66% of applicants were rejected. To qualify for admission, you must take the OAT (Optometry Admissions Test). This is a standardized test that measures your academic skills and knowledge of science. There are four sections in the test: natural science, reading, physics, and reasoning.

Job: Optometrist

A doctor of optometry degree from an accredited optometry school is needed to become an optometrist. Also, you must get licensed in all states.

Optometrists are the primary health care providers who deal with vision problems and conditions. They closely examine patients’ eyes to diagnose problems like nearsightedness and farsightedness. They test people’s ability to see color and perceive depth to coordinate their eyes. Also, they recommend glasses and contact lenses and provide treatments like vision therapy and rehabilitation for patients experiencing low vision.

Optometrists check patients for eye diseases like glaucoma. They diagnose medical conditions caused by diseases that affect more than vision (like diabetes) and refer patients to other health workers if needed. Like other health care professionals, they promote prevention steps like nutrition and cleanliness to lower the risk of vision problems.

In 2010, optometrists earned a median annual salary of $94,990, or $45.67 an hour.

They should have excellent employment prospects over the 2008-2018 time period. Many job openings are expected because there are only 19 US optometry schools and they will probably not produce enough graduates to keep up with demand.

Also, close to one-fourth of optometrists are nearing retirement age. As they retire, new positions will arise especially in individual and group practices.

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50. Master’s Degree in Health Administration

A master’s degree in health administration prepares you to become a health care manager. It usually takes two to three years to complete.

Health administration covers a wide range of disciplines. You can take courses in subjects from hospital management, accounting, marketing, and human resources to law, biostatistics, economics, and information systems. Some schools allow you to specialize in a specific area like hospitals, nursing care, mental health, and medical groups while other schools have a more generalist approach to their curriculum.

The education model often differs depending on the type of school. Colleges of medicine and allied health usually use the practitioner/teacher model while business or public health schools are classroom based.

Competition for admissions is keen. You will need high grades to get accepted into a program.

Job: Medical and Health Services Manager

To qualify for a generalist position as a medical and health services manager, you usually need a master’s degree in health administration or a related field. A bachelor’s degree may be enough for entry level jobs in smaller hospitals and other health care facilities.

Health care businesses, like any other type of business, need skilled administrators to manage operations and plan for the future. Medical and health services managers are the key administrators in the health care industry. Also called health care executives or administrators, they supervise and direct the delivery of health care services. They may be specialists in charge of a department or generalists who oversee a facility or even multiple facilities.

These workers earned an annual median salary of $84,270, or $40.52 per hour, in May 2010.

Job prospects for medical and health services managers should be good, particularly if you have health care experience and strong management abilities. Managers with experience in large hospitals will have an advantage because hospitals are getting bigger and more sophisticated.

There will be competition for the most prestigious management positions because of the status and high salaries.

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51. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree

The doctor of veterinary medicine degree is a doctoral degree designed to train you in the medical skills to care for and treat animals.

The curriculum for the first two years looks similar to the medical degree curriculum when you look at course names. You take courses covering topics like physiology, anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry, and epidemiology. In fact, some veterinary schools use textbooks from medical school. However, the classes also include a lot of content about animal diseases and the characteristics of different animal species.

Veterinary programs greatly differ from medical programs in the last two years of study. You participate in clinicals like medical students but of course, you work with animals instead of human patients. You gain practical experience with medicine and surgery for animals. You are prepared to treat at least five animal species.

Admissions are competitive for veterinary degrees. The number of applicants has increased significantly but the number of accredited schools has mostly stayed the same since 1983.

Job: Veterinarian

To become a veterinarian, you must earn a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from an accredited veterinary school.

Veterinarians treat various animal diseases and conditions. They care for pets, livestock, and zoo animals. They also work with animals in laboratories and racetracks. Some veterinarians apply their medical skills to protect people from diseases carried by animals. Others research animals to increase our knowledge of medical science and develop ways to use that knowledge.

Duties of veterinarians include diagnosing animal problems, vaccinating animals to prevent and fight off diseases, giving medicine to animals, and performing animal surgeries.

These workers earned a median annual salary of $82,040, or $39.44 per hour, in May 2010.

Excellent employment opportunities should be available for veterinarians because there are only a few accredited veterinary schools in the US. The number of graduates from the schools is not expected to meet the demand for animal health care services..

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