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How to pick a degree program: Get started with these 5 questions

by South University
March 23, 2017

Deciding to earn a degree is a big decision. Especially if you’re earning your first undergraduate degree or you’ve been away from school for a while, choosing the right a degree program can get complicated quickly. Even knowing where to start can be tough. To help, we’re walking you through some of the biggest factors to consider—from how to find a degree program that aligns with your strengths and interests, to researching career growth potential and industry needs.

1. What are your strengths?

If you feel lost, start with what you’re good at. Make your own list, and then ask a few of the people who know you best what you’ve missed. Consider which traits your bosses and colleagues have praised and dig up your most recent job evaluation. Or think about when you’re asked for help. Maybe your manager keeps asking you to plan office lunches or outings. If so, perhaps you have a natural talent for organizational leadership and you should search for a Bachelor of Business Administration or other similar business degrees. Maybe your friends always want your insight on family and relationship problems because you have a knack for listening and providing guidance that could translate to a psychology or counseling career. For that, you’d want to start with earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Discovering your strengths and how they translate to appropriate careers can help narrow down programs that you can excel in.

2. What fields most interest you?

Don’t be afraid to look outside your current strengths. They’re an excellent place to start, but the whole point of going to school is to learn new skills, so it’s perfectly okay to try something you’ve never done. If you enjoy helping people and caring for others, it’s fine that you’ve never worked in a healthcare setting. Healthcare degrees are built to prepare you with the skills and knowledge needed for the field. Perhaps you enjoy working with numbers or computers – a degree in Accounting or Information Technology may be right up your alley.

3. Which careers have the best job outlook?

Once you’ve picked a few possible career fields based on your strengths and interests, find out which careers have a strong job outlook. The Occupational Outlook Handbook from US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a great place to start. You can easily find data on employment growth, salary, job responsibilities, and more for hundreds of occupations. You can also work in reverse and identify careers that have the best outlook in your area and see which seem interesting to you and align with what you are already good at doing.

4. What level degree program is the right fit?

This question has two parts. First, what are the best degrees for preparing for the career you’re considering? Some jobs require bachelor’s degrees, others prefer or require master’s degrees, and, in some cases, you can get started right away with an associate’s degree. Again, the BLS is a trusted source for this information. The second thing to consider is how long you are willing to spend in school. While some schools may offer accelerated or dual bachelor’s to master’s programs, anyone who knows they don’t want to devote the time required for bachelor’s or master’s degrees can easily cross certain careers off their list.

5. What is the right format for earning your degree?

You may be able to adjust your schedule some when you go back to school, but realistically you’ll still need to balance multiple priorities. As you narrow down your list of the best degrees for you and your top colleges offering those programs, find out what type of flexibility those schools offer and what learning format might work best for you. A typically campus experience may be right for you with many schools offer evening and weekend courses to appeal to working adults. Depending on the nature of the degree program, you may be able to earn your degree fully online or in a hybrid campus and online format. Base your choice on your schedule and learning preferences, but keep an open mind. While online learning can sound intimidating, the web-based classrooms for online degrees are typically built to facilitate and encourage high-levels of faculty and student interaction, support, and discussion.

Your Next Move: Contact Your Top Colleges and Programs

Before finalizing your choice, reach out to representatives at your top colleges. You’ll learn a lot by inquiring about their program outcomes, faculty, and alumni. If you’re interested in online learning, ask what it’s like to pursue one of their online degrees. To learn about any of South University’s associates, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees, you can request information anytime on our site or call us 1.888.444.3404.

by South University
March 23, 2017
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5 Healthcare Degrees and Career Paths Outside Nursing

by South University
January 24, 2017

A career in healthcare isn’t only for nurses or doctors. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) expecting the creation of 2.3 million healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024, you have many options for pursuing a career in healthcare. If you’re drawn to helping others and bettering your community but practicing medicine isn’t for you, below are five healthcare degrees that can prepare you for other rewarding healthcare jobs.

1. Public Health Degree

With a public health degree you can prepare for a career where you work to improve health across local, national, and global communities and to make a large-scale impact on the world.

Public health career options are diverse, with opportunities to conduct disease research, influence legislative and social policy, solve health-related problems, and develop and lead programs that promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention. Job growth and salaries in the field likewise vary, according to the BLS. For example, job growth for epidemiologists (who research diseases) is projected at 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, whereas health educators and community health workers can expect higher job growth at 13%. In 2015, epidemiologists saw a median annual wage of $69,450, with health educators at $51,960 and community health workers at $36,300.

While a Bachelor of Science in Public Health can help you to get started in this field, some public health occupations require a Master of Public Health degree.

2. Healthcare Management Degree

Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services, with leadership and administrative duties that are critical to the health of institutions and individuals. To prepare you for this responsibility, healthcare management degree programs teach both industry-specific knowledge and foundational management competencies involving critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making.

According to the BLS, medical and health services management is a growing and financially rewarding field, with an above average job growth of 17% and a 2015 median annual wage of $94,500. While a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can equip you for many positions, the BLS notes that some employers prefer individuals who also have master’s degrees.

3. Psychology Degree

Fascinated by what makes people tick? Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is the first step toward a career in psychology, or the scientific study of what drives human behavior. A bachelor’s psychology degree can prepare for you for entry-level positions in psychology—like counselor aide, therapeutic assistant, career advisor, or caseworker—or for continuing on to graduate school. Other jobs, such as psychologist or clinical counselor, require advance studies beyond an undergraduate psychology degree.

While a psychology degree can lead to many careers, the BLS predicts a 19% job growth for psychologists and reported a 2015 median annual salary of $72,580 for this position.

4. Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

A physical therapist assistant career allows you to work one-on-one with patients under a physical therapist’s supervision. In this role, you would support and train patients with therapy exercises and activities, treat patients using special equipment and procedures, and report on patient progress as you help guide them back to health.

Beyond enjoying a fulfilling career, physical therapist assistants can expect to be in demand, with the BLS projecting an impressive 41% employment growth. In terms of median annual salary, physical therapists assistants brought in $55,170 in 2015. To pursue this career, you’ll need to complete an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree program and fulfill state licensing requirements.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

While physical therapy assistants typically focus on patients recovering from injuries, occupational therapy assistants specialize in helping patients build and recover skills required for daily life. Work under the guidance of an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistants may:

  • Help children with developmental disabilities become more independent
  • Assist older adults with physical and cognitive changes
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment
  • Perform patient evaluations and support ongoing patient care

The BLS also anticipates promising growth for occupational therapy assistant careers with a 43% rise in employment. In 2015, occupational therapy assistants also reported a median salary of $57,870. If you’re interested in this rapidly growing career path, earning an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree should be your first step, followed by pursuing any state licensing requirements.

Explore Your Options for Healthcare Programs at South University

With an academic tradition of excellence that’s lasted over 100 years, South University has helped to prepare thousands of students for success in the healthcare field. Here, you’ll discover over 25 campus-based and online programs that can equip you for a career in healthcare. To learn about the healthcare degrees offered in South University’s College of Health Professions, College of Nursing and Public Health, and even our College of Business (with graduate and undergraduate healthcare management degree programs), call us at 1.888.444.3404 or request information today.

by South University
January 24, 2017
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