5 Degrees Worth the Investment

5 Degrees Worth the Investment

Check out five college degrees with potential.

By Tony Moton   

How much is a college education worth? Let's look at the numbers.

In 2010 the average difference in earnings between a high school and college graduate in the United States was $19,550, According to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Former college students seem to be seeing the value of a college degree, as well. A May 2011 Pew Research Center report, "Is College Worth it," found that 86 percent of college graduates believe a college education has been a good investment for them.

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"I think people see the payoff," said Paul Taylor, vice president of the Pew Research Center and co-author of the report. "They see the dollars-and-cents payoff and how it helps make you a more well-rounded person."

Keep reading to learn more about five college degrees with the potential to give you more bang for your education bucks...

#1- Finance Degree

Average Starting Pay: $47,500*
Average Mid-Career Pay: $91,500*

Are you interested in learning about financial reports and investment activities? If so, a finance degree could be a great fit for your future.

In fact, earning a finance degree could potentially prepare grads to pursue work in a competitive - and, yes, financially rewarding - employment sector. Last year, the Association for Financial professionals reported that the average annual salaries for financial professionals increased by 2.5 percent in 2009, bringing them more than 13 percent above the national average.

Potential Career Paths and Average Salaries:**
Financial Managers: $116,970
Personal Financial Advisors: $91,220
Actuaries: $98,620

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#2 - Information Technology Degree

Average Starting Pay: $49,600*
Average Mid-Career Pay: $79,300*

If you're interested in computers and the latest innovations in today's increasingly high-tech world, earning an information technology (IT) degree might be worth your time.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), an organization for computing professionals, points to strong earning potential as one of the top reasons IT degrees are worth the investment.

"Computing jobs are among the highest paid and have the highest job satisfaction," says the ACM website. The ACM also says that because computing revolves around innovation, salaries are driven up as competition heats up for new developments in the industry.

Potential Career Paths and Average Salaries:**
Computer and Information Systems Managers: $123,280
Computer Systems Analysts: $77,080***
Computer Security Specialists: $67,710***

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#3 - Accounting Degree

Average Starting Pay: $44,600*
Average Mid-Career Pay: $77,500*

Do you have knack with numbers? If so, consider an accounting degree and the possible benefits that could come with it.

The U.S. Department of Labor points out that workers in the accounting field are rewarded financially for being able to handle the increasing volume and complexity of the information they review. This is particularly true for accountants with expertise in services connected to international trade, mergers, and acquisitions.

Job growth in this field is another factor that could make this degree worth the investment. According to the Department of Labor, the increased scrutiny of company finances will likely lead to a 22 percent employment growth for accountants and auditors through 2018.

Potential Career Paths and Average Salaries:**
Budget Analysts: $70,660
Accountants and Auditors: $68,960
Loan Officers: $65,900

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#4 - Marketing Degree

Average Starting Pay: $38,600*
Average Mid-Career Pay: $77,300*

If you're good at making the most mundane things sound appealing, a marketing degree could be a fun and rewarding investment for you.

According to the Department of Labor, marketing grads are regarded as "some of the most important personnel in an organization." Their importance is generally reflected in higher potential salaries offered by companies looking for competitive edge.

Potential Career Paths and Average Salaries:**
Marketing Managers: $122,720
Market Research Analysts: $61,580***
Public Relations Specialists: $59,150

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#5 - Health Care Administration Degree

Average Starting Pay: $37,700*
Average Mid-Career Pay: $60,800*

Are you interested in a career that could offer career stability and good earning potential? Earning a health care administration degree might be worth your time.

The expected employment growth for medical and health services managers, for example, is expected to grow 16 percent through 2018, according to the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor also reports that graduates with bachelor's degrees in health care administration usually start out as administrative assistants or assistant department heads in larger hospitals.

From a degree investment standpoint, career paths in this field could reward experienced workers with advancement opportunities due to an ever-growing health care industry.

Potential Career Paths and Average Salaries:**
Medical and Health Services Managers: $93,670
Insurance Underwriters: $65,220
Social and Community Service Managers: $62,360

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*All starting and mid-career pay numbers are from PayScale's "The Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary".

**Unless otherwise noted, all potential salaries are average annual figures as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2010.

***Potential salaries are average annual figures as reported by the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

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