Best Bachelor’s Degrees, Careers and Education Guide
Choosing a career is one thing, finding out which educational path will get you there is another. It doesn’t have to be difficult though, there are many resources available to help you out, including your school’s career advisor and this guide.
If you are considering getting a bachelor’s degree, this article can help you determine which type is right for you, as there are multiple types to choose from. You will find loads of information in this guide to help you learn about the types of degrees available to you, how much they cost to earn, what kind of jobs you can get with them, how long it can take to complete a program, and more.
Degrees & Career Paths
What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
A bachelor’s degree, also known as “baccalaureate”, is an undergraduate degree earned by completing a three- to seven-year course of study at a college or university, which you can either attend online, on campus, or a combination both.
In addition, a bachelor's degree is a step above an associate’s degree and a stepping stone to earning a graduate degree such as a master’s or doctoral. Some of the courses that you will study when pursuing a bachelor’s degree are liberal arts, general education, and electives that change depending on your major or the concentration you select.
Why Choose a Bachelor’s Degree?
The main reason for choosing a bachelor’s degree is that many employers require one. However, even if an employer doesn’t require it, if there is competition for a position most will choose an applicant holding a bachelor’s degree over one who holds an associates.
There are many careers that require a bachelor’s degree and many bachelor’s degree types that can open the doors to numerous career possibilities, as obtaining your bachelor’s degree will arm you with the knowledge and skills to take-on numerous occupations.
Bachelor degrees are the most popular of all degree types, by far. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) calculates that between 2015 and 2016, around 1.9 million students earned a bachelor's degree, which is a 32% increase from 2005.
There are several different types of bachelor’s degrees to choose from in various industries that can help to make you an expert in specific areas. In addition, having a bachelor’s degree shows a lot about your character, in that you put your education first and went the extra mile to earn a rewarding degree and because you have completed this program, you possess valuable skills and knowledge that will appeal to many employers. Some employers don’t care what your degree is in, they just need intelligent people willing to do the work and go the extra mile. Having a bachelor’s degree will appeal to all employers.
Types of Bachelor Degrees
There are multiple types of bachelor degrees that students can earn to qualify for a wide array of jobs. The following are some of the bachelor degree types available:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Science (BS)
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
- Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)
- Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
Why get a Bachelor’s Degree vs an Associate’s Degree?
There are many good reasons why getting a bachelor’s degree is better than obtaining an associate’s degree, here are five of them:
- An employer will almost always choose an applicant who holds a bachelor’s degree over one that holds an associate’s degree when there is competition for a position.
- During your studies, you will gain much more knowledge and skills with a bachelor’s degree course, then with an associate’s.
- With a bachelor’s you can get right into a master’s, with an associate’s, you are years away.
- Those who hold a bachelor’s degree hold more respect than those who hold an associate’s degree.
- Bachelor’s degree holders are more likely to earn higher wages than associate's degree holders.
Typical Degree Requirements
To earn a bachelor’s degree, colleges and universities may require from 120 to 180 college credits or semester hours, but the majority only require 120 credits, which you can earn by completing around 40 college classes. Therefore, it should take full-time students around 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree. However, if you already received your associate’s degree, most colleges will allow you to transfer those 60 credits towards earning your bachelor’s degree, leaving you with only 60 more hours of study to go that should take around two years.
Please note, in order to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree, most colleges require that you study with them for at least half the time or two years.
There are also accelerated bachelor’s degree programs available that compress the same traditional course into shorter sessions, meaning you would have to work much faster to complete the program but you would earn your degree quicker than in the average college program.
What are some of the most popular bachelor’s degrees?
According to the NCES, Over half of the 1.9 million bachelor's degrees awarded in 2015 to 2016, were concentrated in the following six areas:
- Business - 372,000 degrees
- Health Professions (Nursing) - 229,000 degrees
- Social Sciences & History - 161,000 degrees
- Psychology - 117,000 degrees
- Biology & Biomedical Sciences - 114,000 degrees
- Engineering - 107,000 degrees
The following bachelor's degree fields accounted for the next highest level of percentages with 5% each:
- Visual & Performing Arts - 93,000 degrees
- Journalism, Communication, and Related - 92,600 degrees
- Education - 87,200 degrees
Thus, overall, 18% of the bachelor's degrees were awarded in STEM fields that totaled 355,000.
Important Questions to Ask
Online Vs On-Campus?
In the past, most online degree programs were often administered by degree mills which were not accredited. Therefore, for years, students were skeptical and looked past the invitations of online schools. However, today, online college programs are encouraged as they provide a great alternative to attending a traditional on-campus program. Thus, more and more students are currently taking advantage of this convenient way to learn online. Unfortunately, even if you go the online route, you may still have to visit the college from time to time, to take certain exams or attend hands-on training internships. Hence, there are students who prefer doing it the old-fashioned way and still attend the campus while some go both ways and study half online and a half on campus which is known as “blended learning” or “hybrid” programs.
How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s degree?
Earning a bachelor’s degree on campus will require 120 college credits. If you have already received your associate’s degree, you can most likely transfer those 60 credits, leaving you with a balance of 60 credit hours. Full-time study will usually mean taking 15 credit-hours per semester, meaning it should take you 4 years altogether to complete your degree. However, if you take less than 15 credits or attend part-time you may find yourself in school for a fifth year. Or you can complete an online program with the same courses but at a faster pace. How fast you earn your degree will depend on how much time you are willing to commit to your studies. This is one of the major advantages of attending college online: you can often complete the coursework as fast or as slow as you want to.
How much does a bachelor’s degree cost?
Although the cost of a bachelor’s degree can vary between online schools, they are usually cheaper than attending on campus when you factor in the cost of living on campus, travel expenses, and more. In addition, online schools give you a number of convenient payment options, making it easier to pay for your degree; such as the option to pay as you go and make monthly payments that are interest-free, or direct billing that isn’t due until after the first half of the semester. Technology fees are usually included in the price; however, you may incur traveling expenses for internships and labs, along with lab fees, assessment of the level of course placement, exam proctoring, books, and more, but you will also usually pay these fees and more for traditional programs.
No matter which way you decide to earn your degree, it will all pay off in the end. According to the Georgetown Education Center, over a lifetime a bachelor’s degree is worth $2.8 million.
Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?
The major you choose is very important to your education plan since it determines what degree you will graduate with, what you will specialize in, and the employment opportunities you will qualify for after graduation.
Unfortunately, some students don’t declare a major until their sophomore year and, therefore, miss out on the various programs most colleges provide that are only available to those with specific majors. Therefore, it is important to at least have some idea’s in mind when you are shopping around for possible colleges to attend.
This is why they offer many programs in high school to help you know what you want to major in before starting college.
How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?
One thing you don’t want to do while studying in college is take courses that you don’t need. This can cost you valuable time that you could have spent on earning the credits needed to get your degree, not to mention all the money you will waste on paying for the extra courses.
Yet, it happens often where a four-year course gets extended to 5 or even 6 years. This is a problem that many students face, and the main reason is that students take unnecessary classes. If you don’t declare a major early on or you want to try out a few to make a final decision, this is practically unavoidable. However, a good college will have advisors and counselors to help you get past this and stay on the right track so that you will only take the courses that count towards earning your degree. To find out if the college you are considering has a good career planning program, do some research on how many students actually graduate on time and if you notice that the majority of students go over the four years expected to earn their degree, you might want to keep searching.
Other things that may prevent students from graduating on time are changes in their majors, withdrawing from, switching, or skipping classes, problems with credit transfers, and more.
What kind of accreditation does the program hold? How is it regarded?
One of the most important facets of your education is the accreditor of the school or college you attend and earn your degree from. Although rare, there are colleges that can be misleading about their accreditors, which is why you should include checking accreditors for each school you are considering for enrollment. Keep in mind that the value of your degree is only as good as the accreditor of the college that awarded it to you.
How to Choose a Bachelor’s Degree Program?
Choosing a bachelor’s degree program is not only the most important decision of your career but can also be the hardest one as well. This is mainly due to the fact that this decision will likely affect the rest of your career. Those who are fortunate enough to know what they want early in life don’t have this burden. However, you’re not alone if you’re feeling the pressure. Nearly 50% of students who are undecided also feel stressed about the decision. Still, even those who choose a major early may be part of the estimated 75% who change their major before graduating. Don’t let this scare you out of a rewarding career. It is ok to change your mind later if you feel you made the wrong choice.
The key is choosing an occupation that you will enjoy, despite any apparent lack in salary at the outset. Rather than basing your selection just on potential earnings, filling someone’s shoes, or taking on a challenge just to prove that you can do it, you should decide based on your own future happiness and satisfaction with the work you will spend so much time on. Making the right choice can mean the difference between staring at the clock anxiously waiting to go home every day or maintaining a healthy life/work balance that will help you enjoy both more.
What is a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree?
A Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is an undergraduate program that can be completed in a number of sciences, liberal arts, or both.
- Average Cost to Get - $10,000 to $35,000
- Time to Completion - 4 years (Timeframes are trending toward a 5-6 year completion.)
- Public Relations Executive
- Customer Care Executive
- HR Executive
What is a Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree?
A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree focuses on science, mathematics, or technology degrees such as engineering, computer science, health sciences, and more.
- Average Cost to Get - $10,000 to $35,000
- Time to Completion - 3 to 5 years
- Computer Science
- Data Science
- Software Developer
- Software Engineer
What is a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree?
A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is a professional education in performing or visual arts. These degrees tend to avoid the hard sciences all together except for general education courses and instead focus on music, art, and literature.
- Average Cost to Get - $40,000
- Time to Completion - 4 years
- Art and Design Studio
- Studio Critique
- History of Art
- Critical Theory in Art
- Global Art
- Community Arts Worker
- Higher Education Lecturer
- Exhibition Designer
- Fine Artist
- Graphic Designer
What is a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) Degree?
The Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree contains advanced technical training such as military training, in sciences and liberal arts. It was specifically designed for those who have accumulated college credits but never used them.
- Average Cost to Get - $52,000
- Time to Completion - 4 years
- Introduction to Applied Sciences
- Communication in Applied Sciences
- Business Foundations
- Creating a Safety Culture
- Foundations of Leadership
- Applied Sciences Capstone
- Creating Value with People
- Radiation Therapist
- Nuclear Technician
- Dental Hygienist
- Web Developer
- Air Traffic Controller
What is a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree?
Originating in England, the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree is the degree you will have to earn in order to become an attorney.
- Average Cost to Get - $65,400
- Time to Completion - 3 or 4 years
- European Legal History
- Constitutional Law
- Civil and private laws
- Writing Skills
- Criminal Law
- Legal Secretary
- Licensed Conveyancer
Highest Paying Bachelor Graduate Jobs
Remember, it’s always good to choose a career based on a number of important criteria, with the main focus on something you enjoy doing rather than just for what it pays. However, it’s really nice to have a job you really enjoy doing that also pays well. Here are some of the better-paying jobs and their median annual salaries, for those who hold a bachelor’s degree:
- Chief Executives - $181,200
- Petroleum Engineers - $128,200
- Airline Pilots - $127,800
- Computer Systems Managers - $135,800
- Architectural and Engineering Managers - $134,700
- Marketing Managers - $131,200
- Financial Managers - $121,800
Most Popular Jobs and Careers for BA, BS, LLB
HR Executive $121,363
The executive director of human resources leads the human resource department for the company they work for. They have many responsibilities such as hiring, firing, and training staff; benefits plans, negotiating labor contracts; state and local law compliance; and more.
Customer Care Executive $85,803
Customer care executives handle customer inquiries, complaints, feedback, requests, and take care of any other issues they may have in a courteous, professional manner. They are there to keep the customers happy and satisfied with the products, services, and treatment obtained from their company.
Public Relations Executive $46,263
Public relations executives increase the value of brands while creating and maintaining relationships with their company’s clients. Their job involves: creating public relations programs, generating new accounts, protecting and maintaining existing accounts, proofreading materials to ensure company values are consistent, and engaging in social media platforms.
Risk managers $84,362
A risk manager is usually employed by a business to help provide them or other companies with risk consulting services that focus on material or financial risks. Some of their job duties may include: random employee checks to ensure they are following the safety rules, carrying out audits, recommending safety policy changes, and more.
Software engineer $83,483
Software engineers work with designers, coders, and programmers to design, develop, alter, and enhance software and programs. They will create designs using flowcharts and documents to illustrate the process to the designers, then hand the job over to the developers, which includes coders and programmers, to complete the project.
Service consultant $68,957
Service consultants assist their employers with various business duties. Although they don’t make decisions pertaining to the company, they do analyze and advise management on what needs to be done in order to increase profits or be more successful.
Legal secretary $52,132
Legal secretaries perform secretarial duties and provide legal support and services for attorneys at courts and law firms. Some of their main responsibilities are to file briefs, motions, pleadings, and memorandums while also typing and editing documents and communicating with clients and other legal parties.
Attorneys advise clients of their legal rights according to the law. They can also represent them in court by arguing their case during the trial. If they are arguing in defense of their client, they attempt to convince the judge and jury (if one is present) in a court of law that their client is not responsible, either criminally or civilly, of the charges against them.
Detectives typically work with the police. They can either focus on homicides or other specific types of crime. These positions are more common in large cities than small ones, as the budget and need for specialized detectives differs with population size. They may also be hired by insurance companies to determine settlements.
Annual Median Salary by Occupation
|Customer Care Specialist||$40,600||$40,400||$48,400|
|Public Relations Manager||$52,600||$68,000||$76,000|
Bachelor’s Degree Scholarships
Amount: $50,000 (To 20 recipients)
Deadline: December 31
This scholarship program consists of a team of educators with more than 30 years’ experience assisting minority students to earn their high school diploma and start college.
- Must be a high school senior soon to graduate
- Have at least a 2.5 GPA and SAT: 980/ACT: 19 (math & verbal)
- Must commit to attending all Prep sessions of 5 Strong College (bi-monthly)
- Must live in the Atlanta area that includes DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, and Clayton Counties
Amount: Varies (10 Awards)
Deadline: December 15
The McConnell scholarship program awards 10 students residing in Kentucky, with outstanding leaders who are committed to leadership, scholarship, and service principles
- Minor at least in political science
- Must have graduated from a Kentucky high school
- Must reside in Kentucky
- Have at least a 3.5 GPA
Colorado Garden Show Scholarships
Amount: Full tuition and fees/books
Deadline: March 15
This scholarship program is made possible by the collected proceeds from the Colorado Fall Home Show and the Colorado Garden & Home Show to help provide financial aid to those enrolled in a horticulture or related program at Colorado College or University.
- Each award has its own requirements
Starbucks College Achievement Plan
Amount: Full Tuition
In connection with Arizona State University, Starbucks is offering a full tuition reimbursement program for students to pursue a degree of their choice in any area.
Must be a Starbucks employee enrolled in an online program offered by Arizona State University looking to obtain your first bachelor’s degree.
SOCAP International is a member-driven association that was founded in 1973. This group of managers, directors, specialists, and presidents represents a collaborative, dynamic community of top experts in customer-care who are committed to the engagement and advancement of customer care at all business levels.
Software Engineering, IEEE Computer Society Technical Council
The IEEE Computer Society Technical Council on Software Engineering (TCSE), works to improve software quality by increasing expert knowledge of tools, techniques, and empirical data while encouraging that principles and engineering methods be applied to the designing of computer software. TCSE cosponsors conferences and a variety of informal workshops each year, as well as designs and creates proposals to set standards for software engineering.
American Bar Association (ABA)
With over 400,000 members, the ABA is the biggest professional, voluntary association in the world. They provide continuing legal education, programs to help judges and lawyers with their work, law school accreditation, initiatives that will improve the legal system to benefit everyone, public information about the law, and more.
Choosing an Accredited College
Choosing a college that is accredited by a reputable organization is vital to the success of your career. When a college is accredited by a highly reputable association, it adds value to your degree that some employers recognize and may offer you higher wages. Therefore, you should check the accreditors of every college you are considering attending before applying.
There are many ways to find out if a college is accredited:
- Ask the college who their accreditor is
- A college that is not accredited cannot offer financial aid to students
- Look up the college in The U.S. Department of Education’s database
- Search the Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP)
- Check the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Database
Bachelor’s Degree Jobs: Finding Your Career
Most colleges and universities offer job placement assistance programs to help you find a job even before earning your degree. However, if your school’s job placement program doesn’t seem too promising there are other options to look into.
The Pathways program,provided by the United States Government, offers employment opportunities and federal internships for current college students, recent graduates, and for those who hold advanced degrees.
The U.S. State Department ‘Careers Representing America’ provides a “one-year career development program” for students who recently graduated a vocational or trade school, community college, university, or other.
You can also apply at an online job site specifically for recent college graduates
- Campus Career Center
- After College