Do You Make the Same Amount of Money From an Online Degree
Pay Differences from Online Degree
Although many students are opting to receive online degrees, one of the biggest questions they have is regarding pay differences. Do you make the same amount of money from an online degree or can you expect to make more or less?
The good news for college students today is that pay scales overall are similar for employees who have an online degree from accredited and recognized universities when compared to a traditional graduate. In 2013, the average starting salary for someone with a bachelor's degree was about $45K. This number did not vary significantly whether the individual had received their degree online or in-person.
A study performed by Gallup looked at the perception of online degrees in people around the United States. They found that the overwhelming majority of adults thought that online degrees offer variety and value for the price that is just as good as an on-campus program. With an increasing number of people seeking online degrees, employers are beginning to embrace online education and believe that they are preparing employees adequately to join the workforce. For students who are seeking online degrees for graduate programs, they may be in a better area to get even a higher salary. Graduates from online MBA programs, for example, are experiencing pay raises and upward mobility as a result of receiving this degree.
Is an Online Degree Significantly Different?
For many people, going to school online is really the only option for them. For individuals who have jobs, families, and other commitments that make it difficult to attend a physical program, they now have the opportunity to seek out a degree. However, with this opportunity comes many questions regarding quality. In general, it's best to do some homework before signing up for just any online program. After all, you could end up earning a degree that doesn't give you the credentials you need to obtain the job or salary desired.
One of the benefits of an online degree is that students who earn their degree online are typically more flexible, creative, and interactive. After all, they have to be more focused than some other traditional students in order to stay on track. Most online classes make it a little more challenging to be involved. They may use class discussions and online forums to engage students but it's easy to opt out or participate minimally. A student who succeeds in an online environment and can be involved in those interactions is going to be stronger and show their work ethic.
Another benefit of learning online is that it's often more beneficial for students. Unlike a live lecture where you're relying on your notes, you can watch, and re-watch lectures as needed. This is a great asset when you may be struggling with a different concept and need to review again. Additionally, you can take as many or as few classes as you need. Some students find that learning slowly and taking only a few classes a semester is highly beneficial. Although they may take a little longer to graduate, they often end up with a better understanding of the course materials and ultimately are better employees.
Perceived Challenges of Online Education
Keep in mind that some employers may be slightly wary of online degrees. After all, when these programs got started, many of them were not doing very well. They may not have had good curriculum, professor involvement, and actually challenge students to learn. This led to students graduating with degrees that weren't earned. However, online education has come a significant way since its early origins and now is a viable option for many students.
In general, some degrees may not be able to be completed online or completely entirely online. Many colleges are embracing a hybrid program where some classes such as lab-based ones are completed in person while others may be virtual. This is often the best of both worlds for students who may not be able to take classes in person every day.
It's also important to look for online programs that are accredited and respected. If you graduate from a program that doesn't have a good reputation, then you may struggle to find a job or one that pays what you desire. When you're researching programs, don't be afraid to talk to the program coordinators. Ask about the success of their students who have graduated online and you'll find out where their grads work and also how much they start to make. You should also ask about employment success in general. If the majority of their graduates find work in their field fairly quickly after graduation, you can be more confident in the program and its qualifications.
Finding an Online Program
If you're not sure which online program is best for you, consider working backwards. For example, if you want to be an accountant, talk to employers in your area and ask them which programs they believe are strong. They'll be able to give you an idea of what they consider to be a good program and also give you information about which program you should pursue or which one to avoid.
Keep in mind that while most hiring managers will be willing to offer the same salary to anyone who graduates from an accredited university, whether in-person or online, you should be prepared to recognize that there may still be some perceptions of inequality. Nurse practitioners, for example, tend to have a lower starting salary when getting a degree online. However, degrees in business and social work tend to be on the higher end of the salary range for online degrees.
Whether you're able to receive an online degree or not, pay may not be as much of a consideration as thought. Historically, an online degree may have meant accepting a lower salary after graduation but that's rarely the case today. Instead, knowing how to market your skill set may be the most important factor. In general, employees who are hard-working and diligent can expect to make a competitive salary regardless of an online or in-person degree.