Working people everywhere are finding out about the boost in job security and earning power that the best accelerated bachelor’s degree programs can bring to their lives. Bachelors’ degrees secure long-term benefits like higher job security and better pay over time, which contributes to financial security. With a better job in a rewarding career with better sustained earning power, you can set long-term goals such as money for raising a family, buying a home, putting children through college, starting your own business, and saving for a comfortable retirement.

It can be a daunting experience, searching for the right school, hunting the best accelerated bachelor’s degree programs that will fit your career plans, your busy life obligations, and your financial outlook. However, there are many excellent and accredited programs for all types of learners, whether it’s an all online program or a hybrid program with occasional visits to your local campus.

Work, Learning and Life Experiences Count!

For those continuing their education, there can be some confusion as to the term “life experience credit.” Understandably, it seems at face value something too good to be true, but a closer look and some research will show that there are legitimate schools and programs that do accept several kinds of life experience as credit in their best accelerated bachelor’s degree programs. As The New York Times has noted, while often pegged as the siren call of the degree mill, this simply isn’t so. Many reputable, accredited and respected schools offer credit in just this way.

There are multiple avenues to attain the credits you deserve:

Credit for professional training in programs like aviation, EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), law enforcement, corrections, insurance, real estate, advanced technology certifications (Cisco e.g.), logistics and others.

Credit for military training: Requires official transcripts.

American Council on Education: Requires an institution that accepts ACE-recognized certificates and training for credit.

Credit for career LPN/RN diplomates: NCLEX may be required.

Life credit: Often constructed through a portfolio of essays and developed in conjunction with an academic adviser for evaluation by faculty.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program) and DSST (Dantes Subject Standardized Tests) examinations.

Transfer credit from previous college coursework and/or associate degree or applied science degree.

Credit from International baccalaureate or Advanced Placement high school curriculum.

Every school has their own criteria and process, and it’s not a sure thing, but for people with work and life experience, it is an avenue worthy of pursuit.

Picking the Top Accelerated Degrees

Looking for the best accelerated bachelor’s degree programs online can lead you in a lot of different directions, but the most popular classes can be completed in as little as eight weeks, compared to 12 or 16 in a classroom setting. Working at an intensive pace, it is possible to complete a degree online in as little as a year and a half. Some of the most popular career paths among the best accelerated bachelor’s degree programs are offered and can be taken entirely online. These high-demand degrees mean that you can learn faster, and enter the job market quickly.

Accounting: Accountants prepare, audit and maintain financial records, ensuring accuracy and timely payment of taxes and bills, as well as assessing financial health of businesses and organizations in their day-to-day operations. Accountants need to be very organized, analytical, and detail oriented people with strong math skills and clear communications skills. Median pay is $63,550 per year, and there are many exciting opportunities within the field of accounting as a whole, including forensic accounting, budget analysts, cost estimators, financial analysts and managers, civil service tax collectors and regulatory personnel, even C-level executives can and often do have backgrounds in accounting.

Business Administration: Possibly the most sought after degree of all, the Business Administration degree is the key to understanding the intricacies of the modern business world, and is often seen as the first step to the C-level executive suites such as CEO, CFO, COO. According to the National Center of Education Statistics’ recent study, more than 20 percent of all baccalaureates are Bachelor of Science, Business Administration. Median pay is above average, leading up to the six figures depending on area of specialization, and BSBA graduates have varied opportunities for entering marketing, finance, logistics, human resources and labor relations, and civil service careers.

Criminal Justice: Criminal justice encompasses many different jobs, not just law enforcement and corrections officers, but forensic science technicians (average yearly $52,840), paralegals and legal assistants (average $46,990) per year, court reporters, rehabilitation psychologists and counselors, even judges and magistrates. Communications and critical thinking skills, as well as organization and composure are necessary qualities in a stressful but rewarding career. Criminal justice is a specialty all its own, as society struggles to find new approaches to handling criminal behavior, with focus shifting to reform and rehabilitation for more positive outcomes for the offender and society as a whole.

Information Technology and Computer Science: Cutting edge technology needs cutting edge minds and specialized skill sets. With the best accelerated bachelor’s degree programs, you’ll enter the field quickly, and have many career paths to choose from. For instance, graphic designers average $44,150 per year and have advancement opportunities such as head of design, art director, creative director and other executive positions. Web developers, who often also have knowledge of graphic design, earn an average of $62,500 per year in a field projected to grow as much as 20 percent by 2022. Software development professionals, another high growth field, earn an average $93,350 per year. The specialty with the highest growth potential, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is that of Information Security Analyst, with a staggering 37 percent growth projection in less than a decade. All information technology and computer science related fields require strong analytical thinkers, detail-oriented and creative personalities, with excellent organizational and communications skills, not just mathematical ability.

Analyze your own interests, personality, and skills as well as the potential for growth and current demand. You could end up not only with a paycheck, but a satisfying career that you’ll love.

Yes, A Degree Is Worth It

Looking over the process of finding a program, choosing a school, applying and admissions, it may make you wonder if all that, followed by hard work and study in your chosen major is really worth it. The stark answer is that it’s worth every dollar, and more valuable over the long term. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics looked at the salaries of full-time workers age 25 and up. Averaged across all educational levels, they pegged average weekly pay at $827 per week, and average total unemployment at 6.1 percent.

A worker with a high school diploma takes home $651 in average weekly earnings, for $176 less than the average per week. That leaves an earnings gap of $9,152 per year, or $91,520 over 10 years. The average unemployment rate is 7.5 percent.

A worker with some college takes home $727 in average weekly earnings, for $100 less than the average per week. That leaves an earnings gap of $5,200 per year, or $52,000 over 10 years. The average unemployment rate is 7 percent.

A worker with an associate degree takes home $777 in average weekly earnings, for $50 less than the average per week. That leaves an earnings gap of $2,600 per year, or $26,000 over 10 years. The average unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.

A worker with a bachelor’s degree takes home $1,108 in average weekly earnings, for $281 higher than the average per week. That leaves an earnings surplus of $14,612 per year, or $146,120 over 10 years. The average unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.

The numbers don’t lie. Long term earning power and better job security belong to the bachelor’s degree, even without taking the likelihood of raises and job advancement into account.

Why Online?

Distance learning no longer means a fly-by-night degree mill, as major colleges and universities public and private bring more classes online. From your state college to heavy hitters like MIT, online course offerings cover every possible major. The pace of online learning is the key to the best accelerated bachelor’s degree programs, with semesters between five and eight short weeks compared to 16. In addition, the traditional campus August /January enrollment dates are instead usually monthly or bimonthly, meaning that once a class is finished you are free to enroll immediately in your next sequential class and start right away.

Ready, Set, Graduate!

The biggest key to successfully completing your degree is you. Without your hard work, your studying, applying yourself and participating in classes, that degree isn’t going to happen. For your hard work and money, please make sure to check accreditation with CHEA (Council for Higher Education accreditation) and the Department of Education, vet student loans for predatory lending, and most of all remember that no degree is easy or guaranteed. Your education is a valuable investment and asset, one that will serve you with long term benefits, secure your financial future, and pay off handsomely in the years to come.

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