How Online College Can Help You Change Careers

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Study after study shows the value and effectiveness of online learning for all students. The fact is our society moves at nearly the speed of light! With the advent of smart technology and cell phones, our social interactions and relationships have changed. The argument is alive and well in terms of the net social gain or losses because of it. However, what is clear, is that nearly all colleges and universities are turning to online education in some form or another. 

What is research showing us about students today?

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A recent study developed six categories of students based on their motivations rather than demographics (as is conventionally done). The six categories are Aspiring Academics, Coming of Age, Academic Wanderers, Career Starters, Career Accelerators, and Industry Switchers. The interesting part of the study is that career goals, ambitions, and motivations are becoming more important and that the traditional student, identified here as Aspiring Academics, only makes up 25 percent of the total population. The study reports that even though this is the case, most universities tend to focus on this one group. “In this competition to improve rankings, colleges are looking for students who help them rather than looking for which students they can help the most.” 

All in all, it is an online education and the ability to get a specific program, specific student support, and the specific experiences you want that make a true difference in landing the job of your dreams.

Why do people want to change careers?

There are many reasons why individuals choose to change careers. Besides those reasons, it’s important to understand our economic landscape today. According to this article from the American Psychological Association, “We all experience some type of work transition whether we choose it or not…The occupational landscape is different now than in the past. Most people shift careers multiple times.” So then, the fact of career-changing is becoming a much more common thing than in the past. 

Important reasons all include some kind of dissatisfaction and belief that a change in jobs can lead to a better life. The desire to earn more money is a major factor for many people who decide to change jobs. Sometimes life experiences drive the decision. You were single and could move anywhere, but now you are married and want to have a family. A good reason to find a job that pays well and works with family life. Along with this life, change comes those who seek to change careers because they’ve changed their perspective about life. This can include the need for a new challenge or the awakening of a passion for a certain idea. It can also stem from realizing you’re good at something, and this skill can be employed in a different job that would be more satisfying.

Another reason for a job change is an opportunity for career advancement arises, either within or without your current company or business. Lastly, of course, there’s the fact that many are just not happy with where they’re at. Too much stress, not enough time off, too low of pay, annoying coworkers or work environment, and not much opportunity for upward mobility. All these and more can drive you to say, I’m done with this.

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If you fall into the boat of one who is thinking of changing careers, here’s some quick expert advice from the APA.

  1. Talk to a career counselor to guide you through self-assessment.
  2. Listen to your frustrations since they can lead you to new paths.
  3. Do a gut check. Is this really what you want in your life?
  4. Don’t wait. Most people who make a switch wish they had done it sooner.

What are online students looking for?

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In our research, we’ve discovered some common factors in what online learners desire. We’ve identified flexibility, affordability, and reputation as the three keys to choosing the right school. These certainly aren’t the only factors, though! A recent study by Learning House indicates four critical findings for what online students are looking for:

  1. Mobile-friendly content.
  2. Online students need career services.
  3. Online learning is providing a positive return on students’ investment. 
  4. Online programs are becoming more diversified.

Again, what is important is that when looking at the data available, the common factor is that students today are looking for online learning for career-related reasons. They see online programs as a way to help them achieve their goals. Goals can include earning a specific degree that is chosen that fits with a student’s schedule, budget, and ambitions. Since the campus offerings are not part of the decision, traditional appeal to prestige and campus offerings, facilities, etc., has less appeal. What does matter is the bottom line: How will this school help me with my goals? That’s where we come in at! Our research is at your service.

The Top 9 Ways Online College Can Help You Change Careers

Online Learning: a glance at where we’re at today:

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The Boston Gazette advertised in 1728 a shorthand course to be taken by weekly lessons through the mail. This was the first distance education. Online learning has come a long way since those days! The advent of the internet and smart technology is a revolution we are living in as we speak. This revolution is changing society, the economy, and the world. It is also changing education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are about 19 million total students enrolled in higher education.

There are now 6.7 million taking some form of online education and 3.5 million taking at least one, but not all, online courses. There are over 3 million exclusively online students, or 15 percent, in America today. Since the early days of the internet and schools seeking to offer classes online, the number of schools, degrees, and students has exploded. Why? This answer isn’t completely agreed on, and studies are coming out every year.

According to Allen and Seaman (2010), in the U.S., “66 percent of institutions reported increased demand for new courses and programs, and 73 percent reported increased demand for existing online courses and programs. Fifty-four percent of those same institutions experienced a higher demand for face-to-face courses as well. The same study also showed that 74 percent of reporting public institutions rated online education as ‘critical to their long-term strategy.’”

Common sense and shared experiences (often the testimony of those who have taken online courses) also provide answers. The reason is simple. Online degrees are more flexible, convenient, specific to each individual, and often, more affordable. These advantages have opened up opportunities for everyone from the traditional student out of high school to the working adult. 

Let’s take a look at the top 9 ways online college can help you change careers.

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1. Flexibility. Take classes from wherever, whenever! 

The flexibility that online learning offers is something vital to help you change careers or earn career advancement. Online learning does this in several ways. Online learning can be either asynchronous, which means there are no set times or dates for coursework, and hence is the most flexible delivery method. Or it can be synchronous, which means assignments are due at a certain time and classes meet online at a set time. Either delivery allows students to learn from their computer at home, a laptop at a coffee shop, a library, or anywhere they can bring a device and connect.

Having this flexibility means you can continue earning an income in your job and earn a degree at the time time. If you’re a family man or woman, you don’t have to leave for school for weeks at a time or give up your job. Depending on the program, you can take as many credits as you can handle. The average time spent on most degrees is about 10-20 hrs a week. Another aspect of flexibility that makes online college help you change careers is the fact you can pick the school and program that works for you. No longer is the resident of Sacramento confined to choose from the west coast—the entire nation’s incredible resources are at your fingertips!

2. Convenience. Your goals, your time, your program!

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Related to flexibility is an amazing convenience. The ability to choose the school and program that fits your life and career ambitions is more convenient than ever. Some aspects of the online convenience advantage are finding the program that credits your local experience, transfers credits, and provides an experience that specifically works to help you change careers or advance in your current company. For example, most schools work with you to credit local experiences to fulfill requirements (check each school’s compatibility with your state’s rules and regulations). Something we recommend from our experience and research is looking for practicums, field experiences, or study abroad options that can give you an edge in the job market. These experiences often come up in interviews and can lead to relevant connections and networking. Look for the number of transfer credits accepted as well. This varies considerably from school to school and program to program. Lastly, you don’t have to complete your online degree in one year. You can spread it out to minimize the impact on your life. 

3. Affordability. ‘Nuff said!

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Researchers are finding that the most daunting obstacle to attending college is financial. Though there is considerable debate about online education’s price comparison to traditional brick-and-mortar learning, common sense tells us that more options and no room and board mean more affordable. The fact that online learning is an emerging market that is highly competitive means lower prices for the consumer. There are schools that are not solely online and have flat rates. This fact alone of competition translates into affordability and is a key reason online college can help you change careers.s That being said the argument has always been a traditional on-campus education is better learning. Studies are showing that it is not that simple. PUT CITATION IN. So with the ability to shop around for the degree and price you want, online colleges help you change careers by keeping money in the bank!

4. Staying Balanced. Keep first things first with a healthy work/life balance!

Online college can help you change careers by giving you the ability to continue earning money and earning a degree at the same time. This not only equates to less student debt, which is so important for the future but you’re also enabled to continue earning valuable work experience as well. This experience can be part of your online learning as well as help you leverage it in changing careers within a company or in career advancement. If you have a family, online college gives you a path to change careers or move up the career ladder while continuing to be a mom or dad.

5. Transition slowly. Why be hasty when you can be wise?

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The old adage “haste makes waste” can be painfully true if you choose to invest in a degree you don’t use or a school that doesn’t fit your goals. Online colleges can help you change careers by employing the “try before you buy” idea. There are many schools that allow you to take a class before you enroll. Though this is not always the case, when it is, why not take advantage of it? To be able to meet professors, experience the digital platform, and test the waters when you don’t have to dive right in can be really wise. Not only do many schools and programs allow this approach, but you can also now find a good many free online courses on the internet. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are incredible opportunities for anyone to take a legit college course for free. Try searching today for a field you’re interested in possibly making a career switch.

6. Choices Galore. More options equal a better fit for you!

The education market is being dramatically recast by online learning. The delivery of quality education from anywhere you have a device that can connect to the internet drives costs down and brings an entirely new student demographic into play—working professionals. More online options and schools today are beginning to catch on to this fact. A third of all students now take at least one online course. In addition to more and more schools offering 100 percent online degree programs, many now offer hybrid options as well. There are also degree choices for how online colleges can help you change careers. There are associate, bachelor’s, master’s, certificates, and doctoral degrees, all of which can be specifically what you need to tailor to your career ambitions. 

7. Certificates. Why do a full degree if you don’t have to?

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There are so many specializations in our market today, and some that pay amazingly well and only require a certificate. Our 10 Lucrative Careers You Can Get With An Online Certificate is worth a look!

8. Selectivity. Get exactly what you’re looking for!

No longer are degrees simply one-sized fits all model. Degrees in many fields are not only becoming more specific but there are also specializations within specializations. Take, for example, the MBA. The online MBA offers over a dozen concentrations. Here are a few:

Besides online MBAs, there are many other degrees and programs that have specializations within. Not only are concentrations a good way online colleges can help you change careers, but electives, immersion experiences, and study abroad or international trips can. The international immersion experience can really help you stand out as you apply for your dream job in the competitive work world that makes America great. That edge can be something very important for you—hence, it’s worth considering when you are researching the right school for your career change.

9. Networking. It’s not what you know but who

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Every online college promoting any program is looking to show off the network you’d join if you choose them. This is not merely marketing madness, it’s something that makes a real difference! Online degrees involve collaboration and networking with fellow students, often in the form of cohorts. In addition, however, there are often additional networking options built into the school and program. Some online programs require a face-to-face orientation or other seminars in order to fulfill graduation requirements. Others offer these as an option. Either way, these seminar experiences or events often bring real-world professionals into contact with you, the student! This interaction can lead to connections that boost you into the career you’re striving for. Alumni networks can also be extremely powerful ways to get into various business networks or the career field you’re looking at. This article offers their view on jobs to consider if you’re a working adult looking to get into something different.

Top 20 Degrees to Consider When Changing Careers

Now that you’ve seen some key reasons and ways online college can help you change careers, what are the hottest degrees to change careers to? What are some great schools to consider who provide the best quality for the cheapest price? Thankfully, here at Online College Plan, we have some great resources, such as the Top 100 Best Online Colleges as well as rankings, resources, and more.

Here’s a list of the top 20 degrees for making a career change. Salaries are taken from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 

General and Operations Managers

Job Description: General and Operations Managers work in private or public organizations to plan, direct, and coordinate the functions of the company. Activities include overseeing daily operations, planning efficient use of resources, capital, and human resources, and creating or honing policies that affect the overall operations of the company. General and Operations Managers do not delve into detail specialized areas such as purchasing or supply-chain management, for example. 


Accountants and Auditors

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Job Description: Accountants and Auditors process, prepare, and analyze financial records for accuracy. Activities and responsibilities include assessing the financial operations of public or private businesses or organizations and helping companies or individuals with their taxes.

Salary: $70,500

Education (especially Special Education)

Job Description: There are many jobs within the wider field of education. Educators teach, train, and support the intellectual, emotional, and social development of children and young people. Special Education is in particularly high demand and involves working with mild to severely disabled people in school settings.

Salary: $59,780

Nursing and other health-related fields, such as Physician Assistants and Dieticians.

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Job Description: Registered Nurses work in hospitals, clinics, and other health-related organizations to provide care, advice, and emotional support to patients and clients. Dieticians and Nutritionists work with individuals to improve healthy living, especially as it relates to food and lifestyle.  

Salary: RNs – $71,730 and Dieticians/Nutritionists – $60,370

Financial Managers

Job Description: Financial managers work to help individuals and companies direct investments for maximum gain, improve financial health, create long-term or short-term strategies for wealth creation, or manage existing accounts. 

Salary: $127,990


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Job Description: Statisticians are truly mathematicians who work to gather, organize, and analyze mathematical data for the sake of using it. For example, statisticians work in health-related fields, agriculture, and economics. There is a great range of jobs available in the government, corporations, education, and research organizations. 

Salary: $92,600

Occupational Therapists

Job Description: Occupational Therapists work with patients to heal from an injury or disability, develop skills for normal day-to-day activities, create plans and goals to improve quality of life, and evaluate potential problems in the workplace or home in order to improve quality of life. 

Salary: $84,270

Market Research Analysts

Job Description: Market Research Analysts evaluate markets in order to understand what goods or services people want, what people would pay for those, and if conditions are favorable for businesses in that particular market. Market Research Analysts also work with statistical software and programs in order to evaluate or understand different markets or niches. 

Salary: $63,120

Healthcare Administration

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Job Description: Healthcare Administrators are also called medical and health services managers or healthcare executives. They can have a variety of roles, but all function in leadership and management roles. Healthcare administrators direct, coordinate, and improve the health services of the organization they work for. This can include facilities, specific departments, overall operations, compliance with laws and regulations, or other managers. 

Salary: $99,730 

Management Analysts

Job Descriptions: Management analysts are also called management consultants. The key role of the management analyst is to help understand a company’s operations in order to improve efficiency. Specific activities include advising and consulting on how to reduce costs and increase profit through various strategic initiatives or changes. 

Salary: $83,610

Computer System Analyst

Job Description: Computer System Analysts are also called systems architects. They seek to understand the company’s computer system(s) and help the organization problem-solve or improve efficiency by proposing solutions, changes, and plans. 

Salary: $88,740

Human Resource Management

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Job Description: Human resource managers work to improve the administration of a company, specifically how they find talent, conduct the hiring process, and oversee employees’ job performance. Essentially, human resource managers serve as the link to executives in management for the sake of strategic planning and organizational improvement. 


Master of Business Administration

Job Description: Those with an MBA are empowered and trained to work in a variety of management occupations in many different settings and companies. General duties include administrative roles within a company, from finances and accounting to operations and human resource management.

Salary: $60,000 to $90,000, depending on location and job

Software Developers

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Job Description: Software developers design and create applications for computers and other electronic devices. Developers can work on specific applications or even the sub-structure of computer systems that run various devices. 


Counselors, specifically Genetic Counselors

Job Description: Genetic Counselors work with individual people and families, along with healthcare providers, to understand, assess, evaluate, and target genetic conditions, disorders, and any genetic condition that can affect a person. 

Salary: $80,370 (Genetic Counselor)

Operations Research Analysts

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Job Description: Operations Research Analysts use various mathematical and statistical techniques to help organizations improve. Analysts often work in healthcare, business, and logistics to identify problems, evaluate potential solutions, and assist in developing a plan.  



Job Description: Hospitality is a wide-ranging field that involves hotel, food, and leisure activities, organizations, and management. Some examples of careers in hospitality include Director of Housekeeping, Lodging Manager, Executive Casino Host, Event Manager, and Flight Attendant. 

Salary: $55,000

Speech-Language Pathologists

Job Description: Speech-Language Pathologists are also called Speech Therapists. Speech Therapists evaluate, diagnose, and treat children, youth, and adults with both communication and structural issues that can lead to swallowing and breathing issues. to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults. 

Salary: $77,510

Health Education and Community Health

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Job Description: Health Education and Community Health workers help individuals and communities improve their quality of life. They are actually two different jobs within the same field. Health educators, or health education specialists, are geared to help connect individuals and health providers in a  variety of settings. Community Health workers collect data, evaluate communities, and report findings to Health Educators or relevant healthcare providers. 

Salary: $46,080

Criminal Justice

Job Description: Criminal Justice is a field of work that involves many different jobs. Police officers, detectives, information systems analysts, CIA agents, and Probation officers are just some careers. Overall, each of these jobs works towards the same goal: finding, catching, and deterring bad guys.

Salary: $63,380 (Police Officer/Detective), Information System Analyst, $95,510

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We hope this article has helped you on your journey to a new and better career. While it can be overwhelming to think about a career change, the world of online college has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. 

Don’t look back, don’t be afraid, and look forward to a new life!
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