10 Popular Online Degrees of 2014


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For most working adults, attending college full time is not an option. They must continue to work while trying simultaneously to complete an educational program. Traditional classroom learning requires students to travel to the campus and adhere to a strict schedule; both of which often become a hindrance. Many individuals are unable to conform to the requirements and instead are forced to delay their education. Online educational programs offer flexible schedules; permitting students to tailor their programs to meet their individualized time constraints. Earning a degree through online programs allows busy working individuals to continue working in their current profession or position while completing an educational program. Because of the flexibility of the programs, online education is becoming an increasingly popular alternative for working adults striving to reach their academic and professional goals.

The decision by most working individuals to pursue a degree program is for the purpose of advancing or changing their careers or even just to make themselves more valuable to their current employer. The state of the economy in recent years has resulted in job uncertainty for some and loss for many others. The most effective solution has been to look for a job opening or attain training in a field which is hiring. And many of the fields which are hiring require specialized skills and knowledge obtained through certificate, diploma or degree programs. The most popular online degree programs are in the fields and professions which are experiencing the most job growth or offer the most job security. These fields include major areas of study within business, engineering, healthcare and education. Below are the 10 most popular degrees for 2014.

1. Graphic Design

Graphic designers convey messages through various forms of visual communication. This is accomplished utilizing a variety of techniques, specialized software programs and tools, skills and layouts in print mediums or electronic media devices. Graphic design has become an increasingly relevant skill in the job market. Many entities rely on the skills and knowledge of an individual trained in graphic design to create promotional displays, packaging, distinctive logos, marketing brochures, websites and various publications including newspapers, magazines and even reports. Due to the extensive array of industries in which graphic design skills are relevant, individuals trained in the field will have the opportunity to apply their education in nearly any employment setting and will increase their value in the workplace.

Online graphic design degrees are offered at a substantial number of highly regarded educational institutions. Individuals have the opportunity to pursue a range of degree options with varying specializations. Associate and bachelor degree programs are regularly offered as well as master degree programs. Diploma and certificate programs are offered online to individuals interested in pursuing continuing education courses augmenting their skills, knowledge and abilities. Students acquire skills in internet applications, e-commerce design applications multimedia, design development, web development and visual communication design architecture.

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2. Accounting

All entities are in need of employees trained in accounting to ensure its finances are properly handled. Private businesses and governmental entities must keep accurate records, ensure employees are paid and all applicable taxes are filed and paid properly and timely, and that the business is in compliance with all fiscal laws and regulations. Accounting professionals perform a range of essential functions within a business or organization. Budget analysis, financial planning, analysis of financial documents and the preparation of financial documents and statements are just a few of the tasks performed by accounting professionals. Qualified individuals educated in the accounting field are highly sought by every organization. Regardless of the position for which an employee is hired, an education in accounting will ensure job security and likely job advancement.

Programs offered online in accounting include associate and bachelor degree programs, certificate programs, continuing education programs and master degree programs. Accounting degree programs offered through online courses provide comprehensive curriculum which equips graduates with the extensive knowledge and skills required to successfully perform the functions of any job. Students complete coursework in federal and state tax laws and regulations, investments, financial planning, bookkeeping, payroll and many fundamental business subjects. Some of the programs adhere to the regulations necessary to permit graduates to sit for the Certified Public Accountant Examination. The opportunities provided by obtaining a degree in accounting are making this program a popular choice of many students.

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3. Information Systems Management

Information Systems managers are responsible for the implementation and administration of computer technology. It is the responsibility of information systems managers to determine the technological needs of the organization and implement the most effective tools for the purposes of serving those needs. Additionally, information system managers are responsible for the maintenance and security of all computer technology and internet operations. Installations, upgrades and the creation of job relevant internet sites are also part of the functions attributable to the information systems manager. These individuals must oversee the work of other IT professionals and ensure their quality of work.

The online degree programs offered in information Systems and management have become popular due to the relevance of the education. Information systems are used in every field, every business, in governments, non profit organizations and home businesses. Technology has become essential in our current global society. Management skills are also in high demand. Employing capable and skilled managerial professionals ensures the success of any business. A management position usually requires the completion of a bachelor degree program. Most institutions offer programs in business, management and information technology.

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4. Marketing

The competition for services and products is immense. Not only must businesses and contractors compete with comparable local businesses, but due to the globalization of the business world credited to the advent of the internet, they often compete with businesses across the state, nation and sometimes even the globe. Marketing professionals are necessary to help businesses and professionals attract customers and clients. Individuals with a degree in marketing are able to create effective marketing brochures, attractive displays and to direct them at target audiences based on statistics and research. Marketing professionals utilize a range of mediums to create interest in their products and services; from traditional print to more contemporary multimedia devices.

Marketing degrees offered online are generally at the bachelor and master degree level. Some online institutions offer associate degree programs and even doctorate programs in the marketing field. The curriculum includes courses in advertising, marketing, ecommerce, research, statistics and a multitude of business areas. Students learn product management, pricing, distribution, sales techniques and promotional skills. Fundamental areas of business and social sciences are also included in the degree programs. Marketing degrees include a range of areas of specialization; permitting students to develop an area of expertise in the field or to just tailor their education to meet their specific career goals and needs.

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5. Web Design and Development

Web sites are as common as business cards. The majority of businesses have opted to create a web site advertising their products and/or services. It is a quick and easy way to attract new customers and to provide information about what the business has to offer. Businesses can offer visual examples of their completed work, references, biographical information about the business and its employees and special discounts and offers to entice customers. In order to create an effective, user friendly web design, a trained professional is required who is knowledgeable in the many facets of web design and development. Web design and development professionals are able to assess the needs of the business and determine what it wants to accomplish and what needs to be included on the website and how to accomplish it.

Web design degrees are offered at a substantial number of accredited institutions through online learning programs. Students can pursue an associate, bachelor or master degree in the program. Certificate programs and continuing education programs are also offered at many institutions. The curriculum for the degree programs includes coursework and studies in social sciences, life sciences, the humanities and communications. Students learn the creative aspect of web design also; completing course in design, marketing, visual communications and a variety of major specific courses. Students are also trained in utilizing popular software programs and tools to create interactive and unique web sites for their clients and employers.

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6. Medical Assistant

The medical assistant field is an entry level position in the health care industry. Professionals employed as medical assistants provide both administrative and clinical assistance to their employers. Medical assistants are essential to the success of every health care agency. They take patient histories, prepare patients for examinations and routine laboratory procedures, perform simple procedures and manage and maintain patient records. The fundamental functions assigned to medical assistants allow physicians to concentrate their efforts on the more advanced skills and tasks without being delayed or set back by having to perform all of these essential tasks themselves.

Online medical assisting programs are offered at a number of online career schools and traditional online institutions. Students have the option of pursuing diploma and certificate programs in medical assisting which can be completed in a very short time frame; permitting graduates to begin working relatively quickly. The accredited online programs enable students to sit for the certification exams, lending increased status to their educational accomplishment. The curriculum provides training in all relevant clinical and administrative areas including venipuncture, administering injections, adhering to privacy laws and regulations as well as sanitary and infection control guidelines. The majority of the programs include the externship requirement to ensure students receive the hands on training necessary prior to beginning their career in the field.

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7. Health Care Administration

The health care field is consistently in need of qualified and skilled professionals. Billing and coding, office assistants and managers are all required in order to ensure the success of each health care agency. The intensified scrutiny by insurance companies has resulted in an increased need for knowledgeable individuals who know the proper billing codes as required by the companies and appropriate methods of submitting the bills. An understanding of the preferred procedures are beneficial to patients and the medical offices treating them, with shorter delays in claims processing. Managing patient files and records, setting appointments and maintaining order in the office and examination rooms are vital to the success of any health care facility.

Degree programs in the health care administration field are offered in the majority of institutions offering online degree programs. The curriculum provides training in all the essential areas of the field. Diplomas and certificate programs permit students to complete short term programs which get them started in the industry. Associate degrees and bachelor degrees in the field provide advanced training and academic coursework to ensure students are equipped with the skills necessary to become leaders in their positions. Some schools offer online master degree programs for students interested in pursuing management positions in larger facilities. The career opportunities are limitless and the job opportunities are expected to continue to increase substantially over the next decade and will likely continue far into the future.

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8. Engineering

The engineering fields are becoming increasingly more popular. Individuals attaining degrees in engineering have the opportunity to select from a substantial number of specialty areas including civil, electrical, industrial, chemical and a general construction field. Engineers solve technical problems, create effective and functional designs and devices and adhere to safe environmental and economic practices which benefit the employers for whom they work and the communities where their work is utilized. Engineers are generally high paid professionals with substantial opportunities for advancement with experience and additional education.

Online engineering degrees are offered at many highly regarded institutions. Students interested in pursuing engineering degrees can enroll in associate, bachelor or master level programs. Some institutions offer online continuing education programs and course, such as executive graduate certificates, to augment and update the individuals existing knowledge. Degree programs can be completed in as little as 12 months depending on the schedule developed by the student and the pace at which they complete their coursework. Many renowned traditional institutions offer online degree programs in the engineering field to respond to the increasing need and popularity in and of the field

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9. Paralegal

Paralegals provide an invaluable service to the public, companies and to the lawyers and law firms employing them. Paralegals compose legal documents, research laws and legal statutes, interview witnesses and clients and provide an extensive array of other essential services. Individuals seeking a career in a field with substantial employment opportunities and advancement will find the paralegal field offers both. Paralegals are employed by government entities, independent consulting firms, private law firms and are even often independently employed. There are practically no geographical limitations for individuals employed in the profession, permitting paralegals to find employment in nearly any area they may prefer.

The online paralegal degree programs offer the opportunity to begin a career in this challenging and lucrative field or to advance an existing career as a paralegal. Online programs offered in the field include certificate programs, associate and bachelor degree programs, master degree programs and even post graduate certificate and continuing education programs. Paralegals often earn salaries based on the level of higher education completed and earn promotions and salary increases in correlation to the advancement of their experience and education levels.

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10. Electronic and Computer Technology (Engineering)

The prevalence of computer technology, electronics and multimedia devices in the workplace has created a substantial demand for qualified and trained individuals in the field. Individuals are needed who are capable of troubleshooting and problem solving issues related to electronics and computer technology are essential in any organization which relies on both within their business. Most businesses utilize these devices for every type of communication, from marketing and advertising to offering services through the internet, record keeping and to perform the tasks essential to the functioning of their business. Without electronic and computer technology specialist on hand to resolve issues, a business could be forced to delay work or may even lose valuable information.

Degrees in electronic and computer technology range from the associate to master levels. Diploma and certificate programs are offered. Post graduate programs are available and some institutions even offer doctorate programs in the major. The online programs provide a comprehensive and challenging curriculum which prepares graduates for the complex responsibilities associated with this profession. Students are able to choose programs with areas of specialization tailored to meet their particular needs and interests. Areas of interest may include software engineering, software engineer management, systems engineering, property management, organizational management engineering studies. The range of academic and career related possibilities are extensive and the online programs offered encompass most of them.

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