G.I. Jobs Virtual Job Fair   |   July 25

Virtual Job Fair   |   July 25

12 Degrees that Lead to Careers


Wondering what degree you should pursue? Here are a few degrees that will lead to great careers.

Associate Degrees and Certificates

1. Nursing

While it is possible to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing, it is also possible to get licensed as a nurse with an associate degree or a certificate from a nursing school. Healthcare is a growing industry and is commonly deemed as “recession-proof” because the number of nurses needed in our society is not dependent upon the economy. Nursing is a very common career path among veterans (not just for 68Ws or other branches’ equivalents, but for all veterans). The average salary for a nurse in the U.S. is $61,000. This is an average and encompasses the many different types of licensures a nurse can receive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 19.4 percent job growth rate between 2012 and 2022.

2. Aviation

An aviation degree is a great way to lead to a career of flying. Whether you want to work for a commercial airline, for a government contractor or for a private company flying cargo or chartered flights, there are many options. Pilots tend to have great job security as well. There are also many other options besides flying. Air traffic control specialists, aviation safety inspectors and other career fields all would benefit from a degree in aviation. While job security is good for pilots, it can be difficult to break in to this field. The average salary for a pilot is $76,000, while for an air traffic control specialist it is $74,000. The FAA forecasts that 52,000 more pilots will be needed by 2030. This is, of course, in addition to replacing current pilots as they retire or leave their current careers.

3. Information Technology

Whether you want to work in IT customer service, systems maintenance or IT security, this degree can help you. An associate degree will help you streamline your education by eliminating many core courses required for a bachelor’s that may not benefit you in this field of work. IT jobs average around $51,000 per year. The BLS predicts a 36 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

 4. Criminal Justice

A criminal justice degree is not required to work in most law enforcement careers (there are exceptions for some federal positions). However, a degree can greatly help you in the hiring process as jobs are so competitive. Many states also offer a higher starting salary for employees with degrees. A degree will also help with receiving promotions. The average salary for a police officer is $46,000. The BLS predicts a 5.9 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

Bachelor’s Degrees

5. Philosophy

Philosophy is not a degree many people think of as producing great career opportunities. While this degree may seem abstract, it does in fact lead to a great understanding of larger problems, which corporations find attractive. Philosophy majors may find that they need to spend a little more time on their cover letters describing how this degree prepares them for a certain field. However, this ability to “learn how to learn” rather than learning field-specific knowledge prepares students for a lifetime of adaptability. The average salary for a philosophy major is $78,000. The BLS predicts a 19.3 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

6. Education

Education is a great degree to acquire in college. In most cases, it will lead to the requirement for higher education. However, many educational institutions will hire teachers with a bachelor’s degree and require they get a higher degree within the next few years. Remember that there are many options for education majors, from pre-K all the way to college professors. You can also specialize in special education, adult learners or other fields. The average salary for an education major is $55,000. The BLS predicts a 14.6 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

7. Engineering

Engineering majors have a wealth of opportunities from private companies, government contractors, or even the government itself. This field is so wide it allows you to pursue anything from electronics to mechanical engineering to rocket engineering. The BLS predicts a 3.8 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

 8. Biology

Biology can be a tough degree to acquire for some, but the rewards are tremendous. Biology works as a great precursor for medical students, but it also leads to many career opportunities. There are countless careers in hospitals that require biology degrees, as well as jobs in labs working for research teams. Many biology majors also go on to become technical writers, using their knowledge in biology to transfer data into user-friendly terminology for readers. The average salary for a biology major is $71,000. The BLS predicts a 10 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

Post-graduate Degrees

9. MBA

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a great degree for anyone hoping to work in management. IT teaches the techniques for leading a team. Many managers receive this degree and go on to successfully lead others in career fields that they may not even be experts in. MBAs also have great opportunities to work in human resources. The average salary for an MBA is $81,000. The BLS predicts a 5.9 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

10. Law

A law degree, or Juris Doctorate (J.D.), may be an expensive degree, but leads recipients to many career options. A JD is necessary in most states to pass the bar and become an attorney, but is also helpful for individuals hoping to work in business, or even own their own business. If you chose to take the bar, remember you can work in defense, prosecution, civil law, constitutional law, contract law, or even work for a corporation. The average salary for a JD recipient is $137,000. The BLS predicts a 9.8 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

11. Social Work

Social work is a great degree to get if you want to help people. An MSW (Master of Social Work) leads to many opportunities and the ability to become a licensed social worker. Many social workers become therapists, family counselors or case managers for many different groups of people. The average salary for a MSW is $45,000. The BLS predicts a 9.5 percent job increase from 2012-2022.

12. Psychology

A psychology degree is another great way to work in therapy. Psychology majors also find themselves working in research or as writers. The average salary for a psychology major is $54,000. The BLS predicts a 10 percent job increase from 2012-2022 for psychologists and 16 percent for psychiatrists.

Please note that all salaries given are average salaries, and not average starting salaries. Job growth statistics are reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the FAA.