NerdWallet’s Jobs in Demand study shows with just 2 years of school, you can earn 40% more and pay back your tuition in 2 years.
A new year brings new opportunity, and there is no better time to take those first steps towards a better future by returning to school and pursuing a new career.
NerdWallet Education analyzed occupational data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to identify high growth occupations and provide guidance for anyone looking to change careers.
Our findings indicate that:
- Of the 163.5 million jobs forecasted by the BLS for 2020, occupations with high growth over 25% account for 10% of the total job pool (15.9 million).
- Occupations requiring associate’s degrees have the greatest growth amongst the high growth jobs, driven by healthcare-related fields.
- Jobs requiring an associate’s degree have the shortest payback period of just 2 years, due to high median salary and significantly lower tuition rates.
- Every 2 additional years of post-secondary education up to a bachelor’s degree will earn the student an extra $13,759 on his/her annual salary .
With unemployment reaching record high rates in the past few years—as high as 10% in 2009—many Americans have gone back to school to gain new skills or look towards new careers. But with tuition continuing to increase, prospective students should take the time to identify the best college pathway to ensure success after graduation. Continue reading below for highlights, or click the following links to download the full study:
Jobs Requiring Associate’s Degrees In Greatest Demand
Identifying those jobs with the greatest demand provide the clearest pathway to increased salary and shortest payback period. When analyzing those occupations with growth rates greater than 25%, jobs requiring an associate’s degree will be far and away the greatest in demand over the next decade.
- Among high growth occupations, jobs requiring an associates degrees lead all other degrees in terms of growth percentage, volume, and total 2020 projection.
- Healthcare jobs are the driving force behind the rapid expansion of jobs requiring an Associate’s Degree
The trend related to the healthcare category was also observed at other education levels, however the highest growth was found at the associate’s degree level. Even more impressive is the increase in salary within the healthcare field. Being hired at a high growth healthcare job at the associate’s degree level as opposed to the high school degree level provides an average salary increase of $22,185. That’s a 174% increase of the average compensation for an occupation requiring a high school degree in the same category.
Associate’s and Bachelor’s Graduates Have Greatest Earning Potential
For many prospective students, the greatest challenge in going back to school is how to afford the tuition bills. The cost of college may seem intimidating, but in most cases students will earn a return on their educational investment in just a few short years after graduation.
- Every 2 additional years of post-secondary education up to the bachelor’s degree will earn the student an extra $13,759 on his/her annual salary.
- A higher degree does not always mean a higher salary. We identified some jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree that earn more than high growth jobs requiring a master’s degree.
- Jobs requiring an associate’s degree have the shortest payback period on only 2 years, due to high median salary and significantly lower tuition rates.
In the past few years, student debt has come to the nation’s forefront as a serious issue weighing down our young generation. News articles have cited student debt as a major hurdle for our youth as they progress through life—delaying major life milestones such as home ownership. To determine the relative burden of schooling at different levels, we calculated the payback period. The payback period is defined as the amount of time needed to pay back education costs given the increase in salary from higher education. The baseline was the salary for jobs requiring a high school degree.
Steps to Getting Started
We created this study to provide detailed analysis on high growth jobs to help those seeking a career change. However, our analysis is just one piece of the puzzle. Education can open the right doors to great career opportunities, but not without a well researched plan. Here are some basic steps to mapping out a successful future!