Going back to school as an adult can help you earn more money and lead you to a more fulfilling career. When you go back to school as an adult, you should consider careers that offer high growth opportunities that can lead you to a variety of jobs down the road.
Some of the fastest growing careers are in healthcare, criminal justice, business, and information technology, and many only require a certificate or associate's degree. Here are some great college programs for adults to consider.
Certificates + Associate Degrees
Criminal Justice -- If you are interested in the legal system, an associate degree in criminal justice is a great avenue for adults wanting to further their education. There are many criminal justice jobs that only require an associate degree. Police officers, corrections officers, private investigators, and evidence technicians only need an associate degree in many places to land a rewarding and exciting career. This degree is very flexible and allows you to pursue many different paths.
Paralegal Studies -- Paralegals are highly specialized law professionals. They learn about laws, how to draft legal documents, and can even help make legal arguments. Paralegals are responsible for many duties, and are vital for modern law offices. You can earn an associate degree in paralegal studies in about 2 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the predicted job growth rate for paralegals is 12%, which is much faster than the average job growth rate of 3%.
Occupational Therapy Assistant -- Occupational therapy assistants help patients who are injured or disabled develop skills for daily living and independence. They work closely with occupational therapists, psychologists, and physical therapists to develop and implement treatment plans. OTAs are often very active, working on their feet with their clients daily. Occupational therapy assistants are predicted to be in high demand through 2030.
Dental Assistant -- Dental Assistants work alongside dentists and dental hygienists. They keep dental rooms and dental instruments clean and organized. Dental assistants also often do administrative work in dental offices which may include record keeping and appointment scheduling. Dental assistants also help dentists with procedures such as fillings, crowns, and extractions. You can earn your dental assistant certificate in as few as 10 months.
Medical Billing/Coding -- Medical billers and coders work between doctors and insurance companies. They take medical records and apply codes to each treatment that was provided to the patient. Codifying this information makes it easier for insurance companies to break down the information and pay the appropriate parties. You can earn a certificate in medical billing or coding in as few as 10 months.
Nursing -- Nursing is an in-demand profession. Nurses take care of patients in hospitals, doctors offices, and other out-patient clinics who are sick or injured. Nursing is a hands-on career, and there are many opportunities for career growth and specialization. Nursing is a growing profession that offers many different specialized career paths.
Healthcare Administration -- Healthcare administration is similar to business administration, yet very different. Healthcare administrators keep hospitals, healthcare systems, and clinics running behind the scenes. They make sure hospitals do not spend more than they earn, work with insurance, and ensure that care is provided to patients.
IT/Computer Science -- The tech sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Coders, computer scientists, and developers are all in high demand. BLS also reported, “The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $91,250 in May 2020, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $41,950.”
Accounting -- Accountants prepare financial information for businesses. They examine all the financial going-ons within a business, identifying risks and opportunities for growth in the company’s finances. Accountants work heavily with numbers, and they must have an eye for detail. You can earn your bachelors in accounting in as few as 4 years. There are many ways to continue your education in accounting with industry certifications and masters programs.
Business Administration -- Business administration is a general business degree that covers many aspects of business. This degree will give you leadership skills so you can manage a team. It will also give you technical skills, covering many different aspects of what it takes to run a business. This degree offers a lot of flexibility. With a degree in business administration, you can work in sales, marketing, operations management, finance, and more. This degree will take you 4 years to complete if you take classes full-time.
Whether you choose a certificate program or a 4-year degree, continuing your education is a great way to advance your career. However, it’s not the only way to change your career. Trade schools offer a great alternative to traditional college and are also great for adults. If one of these careers sounds like a good fit to you, search for a trade school or college near you.
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