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Some of the strongest corporations in the United States started out as small businesses, launched by their founders during recession years. While your own ambition might just be to ditch your boss and to set your own schedule, the right career choice today can become the foundation for financial success over the coming decades. Online degree programs make it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to gain the certifications and skills necessary to create meaningful work in these six growth fields. Give being your own boss a try. After all, why would you hire you?

1. Energy/Environmental Auditor

Recent changes to engineering codes and government funding programs reward businesses that support "green" building initiatives and other energy-saving measures. Engineers with strong troubleshooting and accounting skills can launch practices as freelance energy auditors, tasked with ensuring program compliance. A master's degree in environmental management can help you get started.

2. Export Manager/Consultant

Politicians and industry leaders suggest that a revitalized manufacturing infrastructure is vital to a revived American economy. Business consultants with strong negotiation skills can help the recovery effort by helping companies trade with buyers in emerging markets. Online degree programs in international trade help students learn the requirements of doing business in countries like India and China. Trade agents and export clerks who earn a master's degree online can pick up crucial accounting and business management skills.

3. Personal Financial Advisor

Shaky financial markets have left Americans craving sound financial advice from trusted partners. While not required in every state, financial certifications help assure clients of your commitment to ethics and excellence. Certifications also lead to larger fees, especially among independent advisors who charge flat rates instead of commissions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), personal financial advisors earned a median salary of $69,050 in 2008. In addition to industry certification, a bachelor's degree in finance can get you on the right path toward helping people manage their money effectively.

4. Higher Education Coach

Worldwide financial upheaval has created another unusual side effect for would-be entrepreneurs. Parents, once convinced of their ability to cover higher education costs for their children, now seek grants, loans, and scholarships to replace the value lost in their college savings portfolios. Coaches and consultants who can help students tweak applications and essays for stronger recruitment packages can earn $50,000 or more each year in fees and commissions. A master's degree in higher education with a focus in college training can qualify prospective college aid coaches to practice in most states.

5. Home Health Care Professional

Today's Americans have redefined retirement. With more of us living longer and preferring to stay in our own homes for as long as possible, our society has created a remarkable demand for home health care providers. The most successful home health care workers start businesses that include scheduling or billing for other freelancers, allowing strong managers to extend their reach. Current nursing professionals can brush up on business skills by enrolling in online degree programs, while online certification courses can help professionals from other fields break into the healthcare industry.

6. Online Art Dealer

Even during tough economic times, Americans love to indulge in art. Online art dealers have created compelling careers by connecting frugal customers to emerging artists. Whether dealing with "outsider art," "home decor," or modern crafts, online art dealers combine their love of art with their business savvy and computer skills to bridge the gaps between buyers and sellers. Online degree programs can help art lovers formalize their skills, teaching them how to distinguish items of distinction from passing fads. Experienced curators and collectors can earn online associate's degrees in e-commerce or business to round out their skill sets.

Of course, these aren't the only career choices ripe if you want to fire your boss. Online degree programs offer flexible schedules that make it possible for you to build skills gradually, while remaining with your current employer for just a little while longer. Whether you carefully lay the groundwork for a gradual career change or you dream of the day you'll just walk away from your job, the right college degrees can help succeed with your plans to eventually be your own boss.



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