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News reports recently highlighted a government communications job that pays $70,000 per year for a professional to post to Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, that's a very rare and unusual position, and it requires moving to Oregon. For the rest of us, earning over $70,000 per year requires crafting a rare skill set, usually combining knowledge from more than one discipline. Moving past the $34 per hour mark also requires leveraging experience from a previous job. Accredited online degree programs can help you prepare for one of the following exciting careers:

Environmental Engineer

With government agencies requiring builders and businesses to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, more companies are looking for assistance from environmental engineers. Department of Labor statistics show the median annual salary in 2008 for environmental engineers was over $70,000. In addition, labor analysts expect job openings for environmental engineers with advanced degrees to increase faster than for other specialized engineering professionals. Online degree programs can help engineering graduates develop careers in this crucial niche.

College Professor

During economic downturns, career counselors often suggest searching for recession-proof careers. Looking to the ivory tower for a job might seem strange, especially for professionals with little advanced academic training. However, soaring college and university enrollments have forced schools to replace retiring faculty while hunting for talented instructors. In many states, a bachelor's degree can qualify many subject matter experts for jobs as adjunct professors. Completing an advanced degree can boost your earning potential even more. Although professors' salaries can vary wildly by region and specialty, a leading industry 2006-07 survey estimates that most post-secondary instructors earn annual salaries above $73,000.

Physician Assistant

America's need for high quality health care has created numerous job opportunities over the past few years. To bridge the gap between emergency room visits and regular examinations, insurance companies, drugstores, and private businesses have expanded the number of health clinics across the country. Physician assistants handle most of the routine diagnoses in these clinics, as well as in a growing number of private medical practices where doctors have become overwhelmed with their caseloads. Online undergraduate degree programs can help nurses and other health care workers prepare for certifications necessary to earn jobs that often pay more than $74,000 per year.

Interior Designer

It's easy to absorb the wisdom of home makeover shows and call yourself an interior decorator. However, to become a licensed interior designer, you must combine formal design and engineering training with the real world experience gained from apprenticeships and entry-level jobs in established design studios. Online degree programs allow aspiring interior designers to condense the time it takes to prepare for industry certification and state licensure. Government statistics indicate that one in four interior designers are self-employed, with the top 10 percent of professionals earning over $78,000.

Software Developer

Hackers and hobbyists often point out that in the past, little formal training is necessary to become a software developer. Earning an IT bachelor's degree online helps prospective software developers learn the discipline and the industry conventions required for lucrative corporate assignments as the market becomes more competitive. Likewise, an experienced software developer who earns a business degree can better understand how to market his or her creations. According to government data, many developers working as independent publishers earn over $79,000 per year. Privately employed developers may earn slightly less, but can also benefit from company perks and stock options not tracked by salary surveys.

While you can earn some bachelor's degrees entirely online, some programs require occasional project work in a lab or seminar setting. Making time to build some real-time networking into an online degree program can help develop the kinds of connections that lead to real world job leads. The very best bachelor's degree programs provide internships, job placement assistance, and other career counseling that leverages the quality of their alumni networks. By combining your personal passion, your life experience, and the structured learning of a degree program, you can put yourself on the path to an interesting career and a strong salary within the next four years.



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