Types of College Degrees

When thinking about college degrees, you may only think about the classic bachelor’s degree you earn at a four-year university. However, there are all different types out there! Read on to learn more:

Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs are short-term training programs that prepare students for immediate employment. You can find these programs at community colleges, universities, and career schools. You must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Other requirements for admission will depend on the school and area of study you choose. The entire program usually takes a year to complete. Learn more about certificate programs by reading this article!

Associate’s Degrees

This 2-year degree is offered by community colleges, career colleges, and some four-year colleges. It’s required to have a high school diploma or GED. Many of the programs prepare students to enter the workforce straight away. In other cases, students transfer to a four-year institution after completing their Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS).

Bachelor’s Degrees

Generally, students take 4 or 5 years to complete this program at a college or university.  A high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite to enrollment. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) are the most common degrees that students pursue. Other types include a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS). Students are required to choose a major area of study. Upon graduation, many students choose to enter the workforce right away. For some fields such as physical therapy or speech pathology, you may be required to pursue additional education.

Master’s Degrees

To earn a master’s degree, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. It ordinarily takes 1-2 years to complete this kind of program. This type of degree is more advanced, and allows students to specialize in their area of study. Additionally, students are typically required to complete a thesis, capstone project, or comprehensive exam before graduating. Upon graduation, students qualify for job positions at an advanced or executive-level.

Doctoral Degrees

A doctoral degree is the highest level you can earn. To pursue a doctoral degree, you need a master’s degree. (Though there are some programs that accept students with only a bachelor’s). You can expect to be in school for at least 2 years. Most doctoral programs require a major research project and dissertation. For many students with ambitions to become lawyers and doctors, there are specialized doctoral programs for those topics of study. 

When mapping your academic path, we recommend figuring out your ultimate goal and working backwards. For example: If you want to be an MD (Doctor of Medicine), you should check out the medical school admissions requirements. Then, plan your bachelor’s degree with those requirements in mind. By understanding the different types of degrees out there, you can choose the academic path that will serve you best. 

5 Careers Working With Children

If you enjoy working with tiny humans and impacting the leaders of tomorrow, perhaps a career working with children is right for you! We’ve highlighted five professions that work specifically with children. Within our highlight, we will briefly describe the role, review the required education, and link you to the median salary. Just an important FYI, half of employees make more than the median salary and half make less. There can be a lot of factors that play into this, such as experience level, location, education level, and type of organization.

1. Elementary School Teacher

This is probably the first profession that comes to mind when you think about careers with kids. Elementary school teachers instruct students (grades K-6) in all of the basic subjects (math, reading, science, social studies) and ensure they are socially and emotionally prepared to succeed in all future education.

Education

To become an elementary school teacher, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. To work in a public school, you must complete the experiential requirements of your state and take an exam to earn a state-issued certification or license.

Median Salary

You can learn more about an elementary school teacher’s salary here.

2. Social Worker

Social workers assist people with the problems and obstacles within their everyday lives. They also help to protect vulnerable children and families. Clinical social workers have the ability to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional problems. Many social workers work with people of all ages, but depending on the setting you work in, you may have the opportunity to work exclusively with children.

Education

To become a social worker, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. If you would like to work in a clinical social work setting, you must have a master’s degree in social work in addition to two years post-master’s experience in the clinical setting under the leadership of a licensed clinical social worker. Clinical social workers must be licensed in the state they work.

Median Salary

You can learn more about a social worker’s salary here.

3. Child Life Specialists

Child life specialists work with infants, children, and families to help them cope with illness, injury, and treatment plans to reduce the fear and anxiety associated. They use developmentally appropriate interventions such as therapeutic play to help children understand what they are going through.

Education

To become a child life specialist you must be certified. In order to become certified, you must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in any field of study and have completed 10 college courses within specific content area in addition to having a minimum of 600 hours of a child life clinical internship hours under the direction of a Certified Child Life Specialist. You can also earn the coursework and internship hours needed to sit for the licensing exam by earning your master’s in Child Life. For more information about the requirements, check out the Association of Child Life Professionals website.

Median Salary

You can learn more about the salary of a child life specialist here.

4. School Counselor

School counselors work with students in the areas of academic achievement, career readiness, and social/emotional development within elementary, middle, and high schools.

Education

To become a school counselor, you must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a closely related field. Some states will require school counselors to have previous classroom teaching experience or a teacher’s certification. You will also take a licensure exam and complete a required internship or practicum experience under the supervision of a licensed school counselor.

Median Salary

Learn more about the salary of a school counselor here.

5. Careers in the health field

People of all ages need health care so a career in the health field will provide you the opportunity to work with children if you’d like. Many students go into nursing school or medical school with the intention of working in pediatrics. Despite this interest in pediatrics, you will still be educated and complete hands-on training with patients of all ages within an array of specialties because you will be required to pass board exams that cover all ages. It’s not until after you complete your classroom education, that you will begin to specialize in pediatrics.

By no means is this a comprehensive list of all careers that work with children, but it’s a starting point. No matter what career you choose, it’s important to get hands-on experience so you can get a “day in the life” view. This will help you to decide whether that career is for you or you need to continue to explore your options!

Matching Your College Major to Career Goals

As a college student, it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after you graduate. You have plenty of time to figure it out! However, there are some steps you can take to make sure you are matching your college major to your career goals.

Work backwards

We recommend figuring out which career you want, and then shaping your education based on those dreams. You are paying a lot of money to be at school, so you want to make sure you are working towards a goal that you really want. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you know that you have to go to medical school. Knowing this, you will want to shape your undergrad major to fulfill medical school requirements. 

Consider time and money

When exploring your career options, you may find that some fields require more schooling than others. Graduate school is certainly an investment of both time and money. If you know you want to achieve a master’s or doctorate level degree, that’s great! If you’re not so sure, you may want to give your career goals more thought. Maybe choose a major that leads directly into a career without any additional education requirements. 

Visit your school’s career center

We know, it’s stressful to think about your future. You may be tempted to just focus on your classes and figure out the career stuff later. However, exploring different careers is essential to figuring out what you want. You don’t need to map out the next ten years of your life, but you should be doing a bit of research about the various occupations out there.

Focus on the fit of your major

If the first step of choosing a career doesn’t work for you, then focus on the fit of your major. Take note of how you feel during different classes. Do you see yourself doing this type of work in the future? Trust your intuition; do you have an overall sense of ease or belonging when it comes to your major? Reflect, and adjust accordingly!

Matching your major to your future career is all about setting yourself up to achieve your dreams and aspirations. No matter where you are in this process, keep these steps in the back of your mind. Though we encourage you to contemplate these big questions about your future, don’t let it stress you out. You will figure it out, we promise!

All About Certificate Programs

When planning for your future, don’t forget about certificate programs. They are a prime option for students who aren’t sure about committing to a four-year university. They also suit students interested in a highly specialized field. Read on to learn more about these programs. 

What Are They?

Undergraduate certificate programs are short-term training programs that prepare students for immediate employment. There are also programs for graduate students, allowing students to pursue mastery of a particular topic to supplement their degree. You can find these programs at community colleges, universities, and career schools.

You must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Other requirements for admission will depend on the school and area of study you choose.

Benefits of Certificate Programs

You’ll save money

If you are attending your certificate program full-time, it usually only takes about a year to complete. Paying for only one year of school will cost much less than paying for four years of college. Woo! Math. 

There are so many topics to choose from

Certificate programs are available in various trades, professional fields, and areas of study. Some of the most popular include healthcare, technology, and business. Some examples of potential careers from certificate programs:

  • Web Developer
  • Dental Assistant
  • Architectural Drafter
  • Hairdresser
  • Welder
  • Veterinary Assistant

You’ll be qualified for professional work

Some high school students might want to skip college and go straight into the work force. A certificate program can help you quickly qualify for a higher paying job. It’s a great resume booster! 

Put those credits toward a degree

Many of the classes you take may also count towards an associate or bachelor’s degree. In completing the program, you will become a working professional. If you want, you can use your new employment as a means to continue studying. Many working students pursue their degree part-time or online.

Now you can see why you shouldn’t overlook these programs as an option for your future!

Apprenticeships May Be Right For You

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships have been around since ancient times, allowing craftsmen to supervise and pass along knowledge to younger generations. The purpose of these relationships is to maintain the quality of a trade. Nowadays, apprenticeships include time in the classroom. According to the Department of Labor, apprentices are required around 144 hours of classroom time for every 2,000 hours of workplace training. 

Benefits of Apprenticeships

Learn and earn money at the same time

Unlike many students who pay to take classes, you will have the opportunity to make money as you learn.

Become an industry-recognized professional

Upon completion of the program, you will have all the credentials you need to start working right away. 

Advance your career

If you want, you can build upon your apprenticeship. With the hands-on career training you received, you will be prepared for more responsibilities. 

Network

Because you are learning from professionals, you will make connections with all the people you work with. When you are done with your program, this network will serve you well. 

Choose from so many different industries

This includes construction, automotive, hospitality, energy, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare.

How to Become an Apprentice

Earn a high school diploma or a general education diploma

For most formal apprenticeship programs, this is the minimum educational requirement. This works out since the minimum age requirement is typically 18 years old.

Update your resume

If you are applying for an apprenticeship program, you will need a resume of your experience and accomplishments. 

Find a program that interests you

As listed above, you can find a training program for all sorts of careers. The U.S. Department of Labor has resources for you to explore more about potential apprenticeships. 

If studying in college doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, consider an apprenticeship. There are all different paths to success; all you have to do is find the one that’s right for you.

Tips for Choosing a Career

There is no doubt that choosing a career is an overwhelming undertaking. With so many choices, how could anyone ever decide? Here are some simple steps to get you thinking about your future goals and endeavors.

1. Evaluate yourself

Gauge your values, interests, soft skills, aptitudes, and personality traits. By taking into account these vital qualities, you will have a better sense of which occupations will fit you perfectly! You could try taking one of the many career tests online, visiting your school counselor, or exploring your campus career center. No matter if you are in high school or college, there are plenty of resources to assist with career exploration.

2. Make a list of occupations to explore

No matter how long the list or how diverse, write down all the careers you are considering. With each occupation, be sure to research job descriptions, look up education/training/licensing requirements, and use government-produced labor market information. Often times, careers turn out to be much different than the way you imagine them in your mind. By doing a bit of research, you can realistically view each path for what it’s worth.

3. Experience the world

Explore your surroundings as much as you can. Where to start? Take different classes, travel to far off places, meet new people, and try unusual things. In doing so, you will get a sense of all the possibilities the world has to offer. The more you participate in your life, the closer you will be to pinpointing what you want to do.

4. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way

Whether it be a chance to freelance with the valuable skills you obtained through your graphic design class or an opportunity to conduct research with your favorite professor… go for it! Internships are also a prime way to look for career inspiration. Embarking on this journey could help you test out an entire industry and give you a taste of the working world you may be in after you graduate. 

5. Conduct informational interviews

When you narrow down your list, take the next step in choosing your potential career. Meet with people who work in similar fields and ask questions. Be sure to network not just through your own connections, but through LinkedIn, too. Use each meeting as a chance to ask tons of questions and get a feel for the position through the people who actually do it for a living. We know it can be scary to put yourself out there, but the only way to overcome those feelings is to just go for it. When you’re ready, you can take it one step further and shadow someone as they work. It’s one thing to hear about a career, and an entirely different perspective to experience it!

6. Make a plan

Once you decide on a position that suits you, compose a (flexible) plan that will outline the ways you can achieve the career of your dreams. When you set your goals, make sure that they are driven by your deepest wishes for the future rather than the expectations of others. Write down all your aspirations (short term and long term), and include each step that will get you closer to those achievements. Include anticipated outcomes and obstacles that may come your way. This will give you a chance to foresee potential complications and brainstorm solutions.

With these tips, you will have a starting point when it comes to choosing a career path. Keep in mind that nothing is set in stone. If there ever comes a time that you aren’t passionate about your work, you always have the liberty to change your direction.