A college degree is a big deal.
A recent article from Kiplinger mentioned that an employee with a bachelor’s degree earns on average almost double the amount of money compared with a person with only a high school diploma.
Basically, that extra piece of paper makes you more competitive, more portable and more money.
Whether you had to put your education on hold or never got the chance to start, it’s important to begin the admissions (or re-admissions) process with a solid direction. Military spouses endure unique career challenges. We need to factor in PCSing, managing a household (sometimes alone) and countless other random military-related last minute craziness when choosing the right time to earn a college degree.
With that in mind, picking a major should be the first decision you make, even before researching schools. Your interest will dictate what school or program you will want to apply for. It will be a huge advantage to establish a path at the very beginning.
Start by thinking about what you see yourself doing afterward you earn your diploma. A lot of military spouses choose to study a program that would result in a portable career. It makes sense. We have a relatively mobile lifestyle, so why not pursue a curriculum that would support a portable career?
Here are 5 college majors for milspouses looking for a portable career:
- Management. After you graduate, a degree in management offers a whole lot of flexibility. It sets the foundation for a variety of jobs that a lot of employers seek, whatever your interest. Personally, I have friends that have pursued a sales managerial position, opened their own e-commerce store and another that used it to work admissions at a school. All jobs that are easily transferable. There are many military spouses with great ideas and this degree direction might be an excellent way to build your successful small business.
- Health care. From nursing to medical technicians, the heath care field offers a broad selection of degree programs. There are also options for certain professions that may not need a bachelor’s degree, only a certificate or associate’s degree, which gives this path flexibility (i.e. Registered Nurse (RN) versus a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)). Wherever you are stationed, there will most likely be a doctor’s office, hospital, dentist, rehab center, etc. Despite what people may say about the difficulties in finding jobs in heath care, it’s hard to argue against the continuous need for people in the profession. It’s a challenge to find a job in general, so if it’s your passion to help others in this way, go for it! Remember to discuss all the appropriate certifications with your career counselor that way you’re ahead of the curve when you begin the job hunt at your new duty station.
- Communications. I was once told that a communications degree was pointless. On the contrary, a B.A. in communications can open doors to a very wide range of opportunities. It’s a creative discipline and if you have a knack for working with people, brainstorming ideas, writing, communicating in general, then this major is for you. I’m extremely bias because I hold a communications degree. I was able to explore several different facets before putting together my portable career. For example, I studied journalism, marketing, and public speaking.
- Computer Science. There is no doubt that the digital age is booming. With a computer science degree, you become the go-to person. Other degrees that are similar are computer engineering or computer development. After graduation, use your expertise and land a job being a developer or researcher. There is no denying that a bachelor’s degree in computer science would translate into a very lucrative career. The National Association of College and Employers (NACE) reports that the starting salary for someone with a computer science degree is around $64K.
- Information Technology/Systems. Not to be confused with computer science, this degree takes technology systems and integrates them with businesses. For example, the skills you learn with this program can be applied to work for a number of places like IT firms, online Internet security companies or apply for other similar professions. This degree is great because it provides a well-rounded technical education.
If you are still undecided on a major, aim your studies toward a genre like liberal arts, business or science. Once you’ve applied within a certain school, work on your prerequisites before finalizing your major. U.S. News and World Report is a great resource to gather information on universities, programs, and a whole lot more, including some tips too.
Ultimately, choose a major that is right for you, no matter what. It’s best to be in a career that you love because then your job will never feel like work.
Want more information about college degrees that are most compatible with military life? Visit the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program website.