Education in Idaho
Although Idaho has a small population relative to its size, the state still boasts plenty of options when it comes to higher education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the state's roster of schools includes 43 colleges, universities, technical schools, career academies and other postsecondary institutions. Here's a breakdown of degree-granting universities and colleges in Idaho, by type:
- Public 4-year: 4
- Public 2-year: 2
- Private 4-year, nonprofit: 7
- Private 2-year, nonprofit: 2
- Private 4-year, for-profit: 4
In addition to these colleges, the state also offers two institutions of higher education that offer degrees or diplomas that take less than two years to complete. Programs in this category typically provide career training that leads to specific professional ambitions, typically in beauty, barbering, business, or technical skills.
Because of the many educational options available, colleges in Idaho graduate a large number of students each year. According to a 2014 report from the NCES, federal financial aid-eligible colleges and universities in Idaho granted 20,080 degrees and certificates to 19,009 graduating students during the 2011-12 school year. Among those students, 78 percent earned degrees at four-year colleges in Idaho. Further, another 21 percent earned two-year degrees. The remaining 1 percent, or 215 students, earned certificates or career diplomas from less-than-two-year institutions during the 2011-12 school year.
With so many students receiving a degree each year, it's no wonder enrollment at some of the state's largest schools remains high. Here are some total student enrollment numbers collected from the major public universities in Idaho, current as of 2013:
- Boise State University: 22,227
- College of Southern Idaho: 8,473
- College of Western Idaho: 10,217
- Eastern Idaho Technical College: 686
- Idaho State University: 13,429
- Lewis - Clark State College: 4,304
- North Idaho College: 5,786
- University of Idaho: 11,702
Online Education in Idaho
Due to its large rural population, Idaho is the perfect place to earn a degree online. Further, steady growth in the availability of online courses has contributed to the popularity of online degrees.
By pursuing an online degree program, students in Idaho can pursue their education from any place and at any time of their choosing. For many working adults, the ability to study remotely is the key to remaining in the workforce while continuing their education. Meanwhile, students who live far away from the state's biggest college campuses also benefit by earning degrees from the school of their choosing without packing up and moving closer to the big city.
Because the state's schools are at the forefront of online education, a handful of colleges and universities in Idaho have received accolades for certain programs their schools offer. Here are a few of the best online degree programs offered by highest ranked online program in Idaho, alongside their national rank, per U.S. News & World Report:
- Best Online Bachelor's Programs (2015): No.72
- Best Online MBA Programs (2015): No. 97
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs (2015): No. 47
- Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs (2015): No. 48
Although only one school in Idaho has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report for their online programming, a wide range of top notch institutions of higher education offer online degree programs in the state. Brigham Young University of Idaho, for example, offers 11 Bachelor's, six associate and nine certificate programs that can be completely entirely online. Further, both the college of Southern Idaho and the College of Western Idaho offer their share of fully online degree programs and hybrid education options.
Two of the state's most prominent schools -- Idaho State University and the University of Idaho -- also offer online education options. The University of Idaho in particular boasts almost 20 fully online degree programs for students who want to pursue advanced education in fields such as engineering, education and science.
Top Jobs and Careers in Idaho
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Idaho's workforce was made up of 628,140 individuals in 2014. Combined, those workers earned a mean annual wage of $39,770 that year.
While many occupations and industries in Idaho are ripe with opportunity, some are expected to hold more potential than others. As you ponder the idea of degree attainment in the state, consider the following list of top careers in Idaho based on employment projections and wage data.
Why It's Hot
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Boise City - Nampa
Due to a wide range of factors, becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer has become a hot proposition for many students. For starters, most workers in this field begin their careers with an associate degree in diagnostic nedical sonography and typically these programs only take two years to complete.
Manual dexterity, technical skills, listening skills, computer skills, compassion, physical stamina
As the BLS notes, most workers in this field earn an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography or a bachelor's degree in sonography.
Workers in related fields, such as radiation therapy, may also find work in this field after receiving some on-the-job training.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Boise City - Nampa
Because physical therapy assistant programs only take two years to complete, this career provides quick entry into the workforce.
Further, an overall demand for healthcare services adds to the popularity of this career. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment for physical therapy assistants in Idaho could increase by as much as 40 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Compassion, attention to detail, dexterity, interpersonal skills, physical stamina, time management skills
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapy assistants typically begin their careers by completing a two-year physical therapy assistant program at an accredited school.
These programs include both classroom instruction and hands-on learning, with a focus on English, algebra, anatomy, physiology and psychology.
Interpreters and Translators
Southcentral Idaho Nonmetropolitan Area
As languages other than English proliferate across the United States, the demand for interpreters and translators is expected to surge. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that job openings for interpreters and translators in Idaho will increase 38 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Cultural sensitivity, interpersonal skills, communication skills, computer skills, business skills, speaking skills, writing skills, absolute fluency in at least two languages
The BLS notes most interpreters and translators begin their careers by earning a bachelor's degree in English or a foreign language.
However, since the main requirement for this career is absolute fluency in at least two languages, students often get their start with degrees in other related fields.
Boise City - Nampa, Southcentral Idaho Nonmetropolitan Area, Idaho Falls, Coer d'Alene
With construction and manufacturing on the rise in Idaho and elsewhere, it's no wonder that careers in this field are experiencing heavy demand. According to U.S. Department of Labor predictions, employment for cost estimators in Idaho could increase by as much as 36 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.
Analytical skills, advanced math skills, attention to detail, interpersonal skills, communication skills, time management skills, writing skills, technical skills
Cost estimators typically need a bachelor's degree in an industry-related field to get started in the profession. A background in advanced math and construction is also helpful.
In some cases, workers with many years of experience can also gain employment in this field without earning a degree.
Information Security Analyst
Boise City - Nampa, East Idaho Nonmetropolitan Area,
With so many businesses turning to technology for answers, it's no wonder that careers in computer science and computer-related fields are on the rise. Because of the overall demand for computer professionals, employment for information security analysts - the workers who keep computer networks and systems safe from outside intruders - is expected to surge. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that job openings for information security analysts in Idaho could increase by as much as 35 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Mastery of computers and computer networks, analytical skills, ingenuity, problem-solving skills, attention to detail
In order to find work as an information security analyst, candidates need to earn a Bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. Common degrees these workers earn include computer programming, computer science and information security.
Candidates for advanced positions may need a Master's degree, however. As the BLS notes, many employers prefer to hire candidates with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems.
While no particular degree can guarantee employment, this list of popular careers becomes easier to attain with a targeted education. Furthermore, many other careers in Idaho are expected to see exceptional demand. To learn more about hot careers, check out the latest career data at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Financial Aid in Idaho
College tuition can vary widely depending on where you go to school, what you major in and whether you choose a private or public institution. The type of school you choose will also play a big role in your final costs. As a general rule, four-year colleges and universities in Idaho cost more, while two-year schools tend to cost less.
Further, college tuition in Idaho has risen considerably over the past decade, as illustrated by a recent report published by the College Board. Using figures from the report, we compiled this list of average tuition figures and colleges in Idaho to show just how much costs have surged over the years.
Public 2-year in-state
- 2004-05: $1,798
- 2014-15: $3,761
Public 4-year in-state
- 2004-05: $3,591
- 2014-15: $6,602
Private 4-year nonprofit
- 2004-05: $4,987
- 2014-15: $6,963
As you can see, the cost of higher education at colleges in Idaho has grown over the years. However, it's important to note that the cost of higher education in Idaho is considerably lower than the average cost in the United States. Further, many Idaho students may qualify for some type of student aid. In many cases, student aid can make the costs of college downright affordable.
The first step towards determining whether you are eligible for student aid involves filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. By filling this form out, you provide the information federal and state agencies need to determine what type of aid you may be eligible for.
The Idaho State Board of Education also offers resources on its website for Idaho students. In addition to information on state-run scholarships, they also offer resources that include special programs and advanced aid opportunities. State-based scholarships offered through the Idaho State Board of Education include:
- Opportunity Scholarship
- GEAR UP Idaho Scholarship
- Governor's Cup Scholarship
- Tschudy Family Scholarship
- Armed Forces and Public Safety Officer Scholarship
The Idaho State Board of Education also offers information on school-specific aid opportunities at local institutions such as Boise State University, Brigham Young University - Idaho, Idaho State University, North Idaho College and the University of Idaho.
While some student aid comes in the form of scholarships and grants that do not need to be paid back, other aid may come in the form of special loans or loan programs. Loan forgiveness programs may also be available for students who pursue specific degrees and agree to work in a certain field for a predetermined length of time.
- Boise State University, Online Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/boise-state-university-142115
- Cost Estimators, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131051.htm
- Cost Estimators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/cost-estimators.htm
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032.htm
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm
- Fastest Growing Occupations, CareerOneStop, http://acinet.org/select_educ_rd.asp?next=oview1&optstatus=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=16&jobfam=&ShowAll=
- Federal Student Aid, https://fafsa.ed.gov/
- Idaho, College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=ID
- Idaho Scholarships, Idaho State Board of Education, http://www.boardofed.idaho.gov/scholarship/scholarship_jump.asp
- Information Security Analysts, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151122.htm
- Information Security Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
- Interpreters and Translators, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273091.htm
- Interpreters and Translators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/interpreters-and-translators.htm
- List of Online Degrees, University of Idaho, http://www.uidaho.edu/cogs/academics/distancelearning/listofonlinedegrees
- May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Idaho, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_id.htm
- Physical Therapy Assistants, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes312021.htm
- Physical Therapy Assistants and Aides, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm
- Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12, Web Tables, U.S. Department of Education, March 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014033.pdf
- State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Idaho, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/16000.html
- Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, Trends in Higher Education, The College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-sector-and-state-over-time