In the era of the internet, when most industries and services are actively migrating to the cloud, education is evolving as well. Online degrees have become quite popular and widespread, even more so since the pandemic started. They represent a safer, more accessible, and more affordable opportunity to get an education. Besides, online education allows you to apply for full-time student jobs to fund your education, without worrying about class attendance.
Global eLearning was already witnessing impressive growth, even before the pandemic. According to Syngene Research, it is expected to see an annual growth of almost 10 percent, at least until 2026. Furthermore, eLearning seems to be more efficient than traditional learning, with a recent research by the U.S. Department of Education showing that “students who took all or part of their course online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.”
But while online education is certainly a viable scenario for high school graduates, what about individuals who are already working? Can an online degree empower your career advancement, or even act as a career changer for you in the long run? Research seems to indicate that this is true. And while some employers still favour a traditional diploma, the number of those who are willing to accept an accredited online degree is growing exponentially.
Here are a few considerations and tips to help you supercharge your career with an online degree:
- The only way to get promoted above entry-level and/or middle management, is by getting a relevant degree. Your chances of landing an executive-level job without one are slim to non-existent, regardless of the industry and job. When it comes to a successful career, you need to start planning ahead – do so now and be consistent about it. An online degree is far more accessible than a “traditional” one, in that you do not need to quit your current job to get educated, and you probably won’t have to take a bank loan to afford it.
- An online degree is always a smart investment. If you only have your high school diploma, you are missing out on extra revenue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers with a high school diploma earn 746 dollars per week on average, while those with bachelor’s degrees earn 1.248 dollars per week. This means that you can increase your salary by as much as 67 percent if you get an online degree. But make sure that the degree you are applying for is eligible for your industry and/or occupation and is accredited in your country and/or region.
- If you already have a bachelor’s degree and are currently working, you might find yourself in a position where your spare time and limited resources do not allow you to pursue an online degree. In this case, you can opt for one of the many career development courses available online. For example, Harvard University offers a free Salary Negotiation Techniques course, while Yale offers a free course on The Science of Well-Being, which will help you become more productive at your workplace. And while you will not be getting a degree at the end of these courses, they will still help with your potential career advancement. They take up less time and come at affordable prices, in some cases even for free. Plus, picking up several courses will help you better understand where you want to go with your career, and which university and degree suits your plans better.
- Consider a Career Changer, instead of Career Advancement. Maybe your industry is not in one of its’ best moments right now, or maybe you feel that there is no more room for you to grow in your current occupation. Whichever the case, you should give some consideration to the so-called Career Changers – online degrees enabling you to perform a career switch. Let’s say that you are an accountant with a bachelor’s degree, who would like to make a switch into the IT industry. You can do this by taking an online master’s program, for example Master of Science in Financial Technology or Master’s in Finance, Technology and Policy. This will allow you to jumpstart your career in another industry, while retaining your previous skills and experience and building on top of that. However, before deciding on a Career Changer, you need to do a lot of thorough research on which industries are sure to expand and grow in the next decade – getting an online degree still takes time and resources, and you need to make sure that your investment pays off in the long term.
- Online degrees can help you specialize in a narrow segment of your industry. While the (relatively) general studies that you took for your bachelors were sufficient to become employed and start your professional life, you might discover that becoming specialized in a certain part of your industry, will make you more valuable for your company and for potential future employers as well. For example, you can enhance your bachelor’s degree in statistics with an online master’s degree in Econometrics and Operational Research, which will certainly bring added value to your daily professional efforts.
To summarize, the biggest advantage of online degrees lies in their diversity and accessibility. You literally have thousands of opportunities at your fingertips. The key to success here, is that you make your decisions based on serious research, to ensure that the degree is recognized and accredited, and that you do not waste any time or money. There are many online aggregators and lists to help you do that.
As long as you make the right choices and move consistently towards your goals, the online degree you get at the end, will surely supercharge your career and take you to the next step on the ladder.