(Methodology: Annual pay for Bachelors graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have 2 years of experience; mid-career have 15 years. See full methodology for more information. Source: http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp)
Training and education are the best ways to increase your value as a worker; everyone should consider adding education to his career plan. But before you lock yourself into a 4-year degree, think about your return on investment.
Payscale.com has listed the best-paying college degrees, and it’s no surprise that engineering degrees top the list. Economics, physics and computer science complete the roster of degrees that really pay off.
A 2006 report estimated the cost of a mechanical engineering degree in Florida to range between $29,000 and $48,000. According to American School Search (http://www.american-school-search.com/engineering-schools.html) an engineering degree program costs an average of $11,700 per year in tuition, and engineers can expect to earn an average compensation of $58,870 per year, even shortly after graduation. But what if you’re not exactly a rocket scientist? (Aerospace engineering is number 1.)
Certificate programs offer an affordable alternative to people who can’t afford or commit to a four-year program. Certificate programs offer training in almost every industry, and usually take less than 2 years to complete. They’re offered at both universities and community colleges, giving you plenty of options for location and class times. Four-year colleges focus on the general education of a student for the first two years, and move into the degree’s focus during the second two years. This kind of “well rounded” education is part of a Bachelor’s Degree’s foundation. For someone studying for an Associate’s Degree, or two-year degree, the education will be more focused, tailored to a specific type of education. Certificate programs cut to the chase; they typically spend almost all the instruction time in classes that directly relate to your on-the-job skills.
According to community colleges that offer certificate programs, certificate courses:
- Put you on the fast-track to reaching your career goals
- Are designed to equip you with a specialized skill set for immediate employment or to upgrade your skills for job advancement
- Can be completed in one year or less (anywhere from 12 to 35 credits)
- Do not contain general education courses, but rather courses related directly to your job
If you’re planning to transfer to a four-year university eventually, you’ll want to pursue the Associates Degree track. But if just in time learning for success is what you need, a certificate program might just give your career a jump start.
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