With the cost of college these days, it can be tough to figure out if taking out student loans so you can continue going to school makes sense. Many potential students are wondering if they'll be able to pay their loans back with the jobs they'll be able to get after college.
Although the costs of higher education have gone way up in recent years, it can be difficult to get a well-paid job without a college degree these days. The job market is extremely competitive and employers can pick and choose from a large pool of applicants. They can look for candidates with all the skills and education they prefer.
When considering how far to take your education, it makes sense to look at all your options. You have to really think about what's realistic and how much furthering your education might cost. How much school do you really need to find the perfect career for you? Here are some things to consider.
What Employers Are Looking For
Even if they don't require a bachelor's degree (and many employers do!) they want to see evidence that you can work hard and overcome challenges. If you can pass the GED or get your high school diploma online, it shows that you're willing to do whatever it takes to get an education—which might say something about how you'll approach your job.
Some employers don't require more than a diploma or GED, but they might require specialized training, especially in the trades. You might also experience stigma if you have a GED instead of a diploma. If you're struggling to find work, then getting the next level of education might be helpful, especially if your high school record was less than perfect.
Getting a Specialized Diploma for Guaranteed Higher Pay
For many jobs, you need a bachelor's degree: there's just no getting around it. If you want to work in a specific field, then getting a specialized diploma can be the way to go. In some fields, a bachelor's degree is the minimum education level needed.
Not only will you learn specific skills for your future career as you earn a specialized bachelor's degree, but you'll also increase your earning potential significantly. Americans with a high school diploma earn about $45,000 per year, on average, while those with college degrees average $78,000 annually.
If higher pay is a key goal for you, then a college degree can be well worth the price tag. Just make sure you get a degree in a field that offers good growth potential and try to limit the student debt you take on.
Less Debt & More Pay: In-Demand Careers You Can Get With an Associate Degree
A 4-year degree doesn't always make sense, especially if the salary you might make won't allow you to pay off your student loans. For some people, a two-year associate's degree is a less expensive alternative that still prepares them for a great career.
For some in-demand jobs, you don't need a bachelor's degree to succeed and earn a good salary. Project managers with an associate's degree make slightly less than those with more education, but not enough to offset the cost and time required for two more years of school.
If you want to work in one of today's in-demand fields, find out if you really need a 4-year degree or if a cheaper 2-year degree is enough. You'll save money and time while still starting on a great career path.
Gaining Skills & Knowledge With Tech Certificates & Bootcamps
For some employers, education is nice to have, but it's not the most important factor they consider in the hiring process. They want people who have initiative and up-to-date skills. That's why non-traditional educational opportunities like tech certificates and coding bootcamps can be so key in launching a person's career.
Bootcamps can seem expensive, but for those who find work soon after they complete them, they're a real bargain. There are also programs that help people who might have trouble paying for the courses by offering income-sharing options and grants.
If you want to go for a tech certificate or boot camp, make sure you're really interested in getting a job in the field. Going after a trendy job that's growing quickly might seem like a good idea, but it's a waste of money and if you're not really interested in the work itself—you're likely to burn out.
You Have Options
Sometimes, it makes sense to go for a 4-year degree. But you have options and it's important to think about what you want from life and your career before you apply to a degree or certification program. Whether you eventually land your dream job after getting a degree or crushing it in bootcamp, it's all about what kind of education will give you the life you want.