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The Importance and Growth of Higher Education

In today's competitive workplace, having a formal education is becoming more important than ever. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 90 percent of the fastest growing careers in the U.S. now require individuals to have some form of post-secondary education. In many fields where an associate's degree would once suffice as the minimum educational requirement, a bachelor's degree is now preferred for employment.

From higher career earnings to a new flexible model of adult learning, higher education offers numerous benefits to those who join its ranks. New trends continue to emerge that have made it easier than ever to get the education you want--and need.

Higher Education: Better Career Earnings
In addition to improving job prospects, a post-secondary education can also lead to greater earning power as well. The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education reveal that individuals with a high school degree average $29,000 in annual earnings. A bachelor's degree increases earnings to an average of $57,181 per year.

While these may not seem like significant numbers, consider the earnings over a lifetime. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a bachelor's degree holder can earn $1 million more than a high school diploma holder during the course of a lifetime:

  • High school diploma: $1 million in lifetime earnings
  • Associate's degree: $1.6 million in lifetime earnings
  • Bachelor's degree: $2.1 million in lifetime earnings

These income projections should be a powerful motivator to complete a higher education. However, in 2008, only 29 percent of American adults possessed a bachelor's degree.

Career Education: A Growing Need
The National Center for Education Statistics projects that the greatest employment decline should take place in careers where the minimum educational requirement is on-the-job training. This decline only enhances higher education's position as a national priority. In response, today's higher education institutions are rolling out new programs in growing career fields such as business, health, and computer technology.

Post-secondary education institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, offer more work-related courses in health care than any other field. Business runs a close second, with 3,500 institutions offering business and marketing programs. This growing popularity is echoed by students taking classes in business and health care. In those fields, 32 percent of adult students took courses in health care and 35 percent participated in business courses in 2008.

A New Model of Learning
As the need for continuing education continues to increase, new career-oriented degree programs are beginning to populate the educational landscape. Instead of the traditional campus-based, four-year degree program at a college or university, a new educational model has emerged: adult education aimed at equipping a workforce with skills necessary for career changes or advancement.

In turn, this educational model has led to the explosion of online education as well as career-training institutions. Night classes, online courses, and fast-track programs have been created to satisfy the demands of the growing number of non-traditional students across the country.

Career Opportunities in Education
The growth of online education, in particular, is astonishing. Online education's 12.9 percent growth rate dwarfs the overall higher education growth rate of 1.2 percent. For the 2006-2007 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, 65 percent of all colleges offered a form of distance learning programs. Nearly 4 million students are taking online classes and over 12 million are enrolled in distance learning programs. Today, there are 11,200 college programs offering distance education and nearly 7 out of 10 of those are degree granting programs.

With their schedule flexibility and diverse course offerings, online education programs allow many non-traditional students to fit education into their busy schedules and remain competitive in the workplace.

The Next Steps: Finding the Right Career Education Program
If you are looking to join the ranks of individuals pursuing career education, Edu411.org is the place to start. Edu441.org can help you find a school that matches both your interests and career goals.

You can easily browse over 1,000 colleges and universities by location, degree, or subject. In addition, you can find more information about choosing the right school, navigating the financial aid waters, finding your dream job, how to change careers, and more by visiting our career information articles section. Or do a keyword search in the box on the right (examples: phlebotomy schools, early childhood education careers, fashion internship, online fashion design schools, jobs in the fashion industry, fashion merchandising school, become fashion designer, substitute teaching, substitute teach, substitute teacher, substitute teachers, substitute teacher plan, substitute teaching tip early childhood continuing education, early childhood educator, Early childhood education degree online, online early childhood education classes). Your goal is to request more information from any of the schools that are listed. All requests are free and your privacy is protected.

Equipped with the right tools and information, you can soon be on your way to an exciting new adventure in higher education, taking your place among the millions of Americans looking for a brand new start.