Flexible Degrees To Prepare You For Your Dream Job

Flexible Degrees to Prep Pursuing Your Dream Job

Flexible degree options let you prepare to pursue a new career while still working at your old one.

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Are you still dreaming of that great job that your busy schedule hasn't allowed you to pursue? Maybe it involves teaching kids how to read, helping a couple deliver their baby, or taking down the bad guys in town. Sounds exciting doesn't it?

You might still be able to make that dream a reality. If that packed schedule is the main obstacle, you might want to consider enrolling in an online program. While online learning is not necessarily faster than traditional learning in terms of hours, it does have some other advantages, including saving on commuting time, says Liz Musil, founder of Liz Musil Consultants, an organization that offers educational consulting services to individuals and organizations.

Another big advantage to online learning can be the flexibility to study anytime, anywhere you can get an internet connection, 24/7, from a laptop, PC, tablet or mobile device, Musil adds.

This option might not work for everyone. But if you think it could be a right fit for you, here are six flexible degrees to consider.

Online Degree #1: Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

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If you've always wanted to safeguard the streets, consider earning an online criminal justice degree. It could give you the flexibility you need to prep to pursue a job in the field of protection.

What You'll Learn: As a criminal justice major you'll study the law backward and forward and learn the ins and outs of law enforcement agencies, says the College Board, an organization that promotes excellence in education.

You'll also spend your time reading about countless court cases and be confronted with controversial questions, such as which punishments are cruel or if drug abusers should be rehabilitated in prison.

Why Online? The flexibility of being able to learn on your own schedule aside, an online criminal justice program can give you a broader range of experience, according to Musil.

As Musil explains, in an online criminal justice program you might interact with peers from several states and use case studies from global and national sources.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Criminal Justice Program.

"Gaining a richer and broader perspective can assist in critical thinking, problem solving, and the development of cognitive abilities." And all these factors could strengthen the skills of someone looking to pursue a career as a police officer, adds Musil.

Potential Dream Job* Median Annual Salary** Top 10% of Annual Salaries** Bottom 10% of Annual Salaries**
Police Officer $56,130 >$90,700 <$32,670

Online Degree #2: Bachelor's in Nursing

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When a friend or relative is feeling under the weather, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do what you love: to take care of the sick. In fact, you've dreamt of being a nurse but you just don't have the time to go to nursing school. Sound familiar? Then an online nursing degree might be the right fit.

What You'll Learn: In a nursing program you'll learn how to care for patients who are sick or disabled, says the College Board. Besides listening to lectures, you might also role play in lab sessions, learn how to conduct a physical exam, and practice the art of taking a health history.

Why Online? If you're worried about not being able to get away from your current job to participate in those lab sessions or practice caring for patients, don't fear. You could learn how to talk to and work with patients via video and interactive simulations, says Musil. You would also have access to various professionals at many levels through online group work with peers.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Nursing Program.

And it could give you the opportunity to access online libraries which have a broad range of access to research studies, diseases, career paths, and treatments, adds Musil.

Potential Dream Job* Median Annual Salary** Top 10% of Annual Salaries** Bottom 10% of Annual Salaries**
Registered Nurse $66,220  >$96,320 <$45,630

Online Degree #3: Bachelor's in Computer Science

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Do you wish you could get paid to be on the computer all day? Then consider earning an online bachelor's degree in computer science.

What You'll Learn: As a computer science major you'll be exposed to the precise thinking behind computer programming, says the College Board. You'll also learn programming languages, such as Java and C++ and spend some time debugging computer programs.

Why Online? This program lends itself to online learning because it uses the technology you'll be learning about. In fact, Dani Babb, Founder of The Babb Group, an Educational Consulting Company, says you'll work on programs that encourage (even require) that you work as you would on real life projects.

Another perk of getting your computer science degree online is that you could work in the field while going to school, says Babb.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Computer Science Program.

Additionally, Musil points out that you might have "access to cloud based development and networking tools that simulate real projects and networks."

Potential Dream Job* Median Annual Salary** Top 10% of Annual Salaries** Bottom 10% of Annual Salaries**
Information Security Analyst $88,590 >$138,780 <$50,430

Online Degree #4: Bachelor's in Elementary Education

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If you dream of being a teacher but haven't found the time to go back to school to get the education you need, fret not. An online bachelor's degree in elementary education might give you the flexibility you need to get the education required for this position.

What You'll Learn: An elementary education program could teach you how to design lessons and classroom activities that help students of all ages succeed, says the College Board. Your courses might cover topics such as school safety issues and educational psychology.

Why Online? You might fear that without the free time to get in front of a live classroom, you'll never get the education you need for this field. Not so, says Musil.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Elementary Education Program.

You would still get hands-on experience with online classroom simulations and develop your communication skills with synchronous and asynchronous tools, Musil explains. These tools might include Skype, WebEx, discussion threads, and shared software programs.

Potential Dream Job* Median Annual Salary** Top 10% of Annual Salaries** Bottom 10% of Annual Salaries**
Elementary School Teacher $53,590 >$83,600 <$35,760

Online Degree #5: Bachelor's in Culinary Arts

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Does your dream job involve a cooking pan, an oven, and a chef's coat? If so, an online bachelor's degree in culinary arts might be a great way to take a step forward in that direction, without having to cross out something from your packed schedule.

What You'll Learn: According to the College Board, students in this program learn anything from how to sizzle a steak to how to prepare special sauces. But that's not all. They also learn the business of the kitchen and how to keep it sanitary, adds the College Board.

Why Online? Instead of going to class to watch a live demonstration, you could watch tutorials and videos online, says Musil. And to get feedback on your work, she says, you might film your own demonstrations for critique.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Culinary Arts Program.

Not only is this a convenient way to learn, says Musil, but it is also more useful since you can play these videos whenever you need to, as opposed to a live demonstration which you can only watch once.

Potential Dream Job* Median Annual Salary** Top 10% of Annual Salaries** Bottom 10% of Annual Salaries**
Chef $42,490 >$74,240 <$24,160

Online Degree #6: Master's in Business Administration

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If you've been in a business position for quite some time now, but dream of getting an opportunity to lead the team, then you might want to consider earning an online master's degree in business administration. This degree could help you prepare to advance towards your dream job, without having to take a break from work to go back to school.

What You'll Learn: First year MBA students learn about different areas of business, such as accounting, finance, and organizational behavior, says the Princeton Review, an organization that helps provide college-readiness, test preparation services, and career planning services. In the second year students take electives to gain proficiency in one area of specialization.

Why Online? "You can still freelance or have a corporate job while working on your MBA," says Babb. "And your coursework would be done on the technology that you'll use in your career," she adds.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Online Master's in Business Administration Program.

That coursework might include virtual simulations and case studies where you can practice solving real life business problems, according to Musil.

Potential Dream Job* Median Annual Salary** Top 10% of Annual Salaries** Bottom 10% of Annual Salaries**
Financial Manager $112,170 ≥$187,199  <$61,320

* All potential careers listed from the 2014-2015 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Department of Labor cites the associated degrees as common, required, preferred, or one of a number of degrees acceptable as preparation for the potential career. In some instances, candidates might require further schooling, professional certifications, or experience, before being qualified to pursue the career.

** All salary information from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.

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