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Today’s Highest Paying Online Degrees

Earning a college degree can add skills, bring job security, and lead to a higher salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report “Education Matters”, bachelor’s degree holders earn an estimated $23,868 more than workers with just a high school diploma. Professionals with a master’s degree earn $34,476 more. But with so many degree programs available, which ones offer the most flexibility and the best chance to maximize earning power? Let’s take a look at some of the highest paying online degrees, from today’s 10 most lucrative online bachelor’s to five top online master’s.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees that Pay Off

Of course, an online bachelor’s degree doesn’t actually pay, but it can pay off. Combined with the right skills and experience, a 4-year degree can position you to earn a great salary in a wide range of industry sectors. Here are 10 of the most secure and highest paying career paths out there, and the online bachelor’s to get you there.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

  • Similar titles

    President, Vice President, Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer (COO)

    Chief executives formulate policies for businesses and organizations; they might work anywhere from small companies to large corporations and in the public or private sector. They often work closely with a board of directors and other management professionals to determine the best path of growth for the company. They might have more specialized day-to-day work, depending upon their place in the management hierarchy.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    management, business administration, international business, public administration, finance

  • Example courses

    Business Ethics, Principles of Finance, Strategic Management, Fundamentals of Operations, Issues in the Global Economy, Business Statistics

  • Knowledge you need

    Management skills are a must, as are great interpersonal and communication skills, a knack for providing customer and personal service, in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations that affect the business, a firm understanding of administration, human resources and leadership, and the ability to delegate.

  • Job Outlook

    Positions for top executives and managers are expected to grow at about the same rate as other occupations; those with hefty managerial experience might find the best job opportunities.

  • Wages

    $68,110 (10th percentile), $208,000+ (90th percentile) $183,270 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Information Systems Manager, Technical Services Manager, Computing Services Director, Information Technology Manager, Data Processing Manager

    These managers specialize in all things systems, and thus can work in many different capacities within the field. They plan and direct various activities in electronic data processing, cybersecurity, computer programming, systems analysis and information systems, among others. As managers, they are often responsible for managing teams to assist clients with a variety of technology needs.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    information technology project management, management information systems, computer and information systems security, operations management

  • Example courses

    Operating Systems Concepts, Introduction to Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms, Advanced Applications Development, Networking Foundations, Human-Computer Interaction, Project Management

  • Knowledge you need

    In-depth knowledge of computer hardware and software is definitely a must, but it’s also important to be well-versed in engineering and technology, cybersecurity and current information technology concerns, as well as management and administration principles. Excellent customer service, personal attention to clients and great communication are also important.

  • Job Outlook

    The outlook for this job is very bright, with expected growth well above that of other occupations.

  • Wages

    $83,860 (10th percentile), $208,000+ (90th percentile), $139,220 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Project Engineering Manager, Principal Engineer, Head Engineer, Chief Engineer, Director of Engineering, Project Manager, Program Manager

    Managers in architecture and engineering are responsible for a multitude of tasks, all of which fall under the umbrella of planning, directing and coordinating projects in their field. They might also work in research and development, where they can create new processes and hone old ones to help those who are out in the field.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    civil engineering, architecture, systems engineering, biochemical engineering, architectural technology, construction management

  • Example courses

    Introduction to Engineering Systems, Probability and Statistics, Physics, Calculus, Computational Methods, Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulics, Dynamics and Modeling, Differential Equations

  • Knowledge you need

    A strong knowledge of engineering or architecture is a must, but in-depth management and administrative prowess is also a requirement. Excellence in mathematics and design, great communication and strong human resources knowledge is also important.

  • Job Outlook

    Graduates can expect average job growth of about 6%, right on par with other occupations; those with some years of experience might find better job prospects.

  • Wages

    $88,050 (10th percentile), $208,000+ (90th percentile), $137,720 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Drilling Manager, Drilling Engineer, Production Engineer, Operations Engineer, Petroleum Production Engineer, Reservoir Engineer

    These highly-trained engineers work to improve oil and gas extraction and production, including creating new methods and tools to streamline the process. They might provide technical advice to public or private industry, as well as oversee operations anywhere from small local oil companies to large offshore operations.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    petroleum engineering, geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering

  • Example courses

    Introduction to Petroleum Drilling, Reservoir Engineering, Momentum Transfer, Well Logging, Economic Appraisal of Chemical and Petroleum Projects, Petroleum Engineering Design, Drilling and Well Completion

  • Knowledge you need

    A firm grasp of engineering and technology is an obvious requirement for this job, and that often requires in-depth mathematical skills, as well. Knowledge of computers and electronics can help as oil and gas work becomes increasingly computerized. An understanding of physics can help with design and production questions. Finally, administration and management skills can help engineers move into supervisory positions.

  • Job Outlook

    With an impressive job growth of 15% expected, the outlook for this job is very bright.

  • Wages

    $74,400 (10th percentile), $208,000+ (90th percentile), $132,280 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Banking Officer, Financial Center Manager, Branch Manager, Vice President, Regional Manager, Banking Center Manager

    These managers are well-versed in finance and work in places like branch banks, brokerage firms, credit departments or risk and insurance departments. Their work varies depending upon the institution, but often includes directing and coordinating financial activities, such as analyzing financial records and supervising employees.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    accounting and finance, international finance, public finance, credit management, accounting and business/management

  • Example courses

    Financial Management Theory and Practice, Financial Regulations and Ethics, Fundamentals of Investments, International Finance, Principles of Taxation, Financial Statement Analysis, Risk Analysis and Insurance

  • Knowledge you need

    There’s no doubt economics and accounting prowess are at the top of the list, followed by management and administrative skills. Mathematics knowledge is also integral to the job, as is great customer service and communication skills.

  • Job Outlook

    This job has a much higher than average outlook, with 19% growth expected.

  • Wages

    $66,480 (10th percentile), $208,000+ (90th percentile), $125,080 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Human Resources Director, Corporate Controller, Director of Compensation, Benefits Coordinator, Office Manager, Business Manager

    These managers work with anything from small businesses to large corporations, both in the private and public sectors. They are the experts on benefits and compensation for everyone in the company; they plan, direct and coordinate human resources.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    human resources management, personnel administration

  • Example courses

    Organizational Psychology and Behavior, Compensation Studies, Ethics and Legal Issues in Human Resources, Employment Law, Conflict Management, Introduction to Accounting, Organizational Leadership

  • Knowledge you need

    In addition to strong communication, management and administrative skills, a firm grasp of personnel issues and human resource concerns is a must. Personal service comes into play as these managers are constantly working with those from every corner of the business and beyond.

  • Job Outlook

    At job growth of 5%, this position should grow about the same as other occupations. Those with more experience may have better job opportunities.

  • Wages

    $68,510 (10th percentile), $202,590 (90th percentile), $119,120 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Research and Development Director, Environmental Program Manager, Laboratory Manager, Water Team Leader, Senior Scientist, Senior Investigator, Fisheries Director, Health Science Manager

    The day-to-day work of natural science managers depends upon the workplace; some might work in a laboratory, while others might be out in the field, and still others might spend some time in both areas. Their work includes planning, directing and coordinating activities, plans, procedures or strategies, whether in the boardroom with company directors or with a volunteer group in a hands-on field setting.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    natural sciences, operations research, geochemistry and petrology, toxicology, biometry/biometrics, geosciences, botany/plant biology, microbiology, environmental science

  • Example courses

    Foundations in Biology, Ecology, Organic Chemistry, Introduction to Physics, Analytical Geometry and Calculus, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Introduction to Laboratory Physics, General Chemistry Lab

  • Knowledge you need

    In addition to a firm grasp of mathematics and great communication skills, people in this career need advanced knowledge of the natural world, including biology, chemistry and geology. Given their supervisory positions, they will also need to know a great deal about administration, management and personal service for customers, co-workers, stakeholders and the like.

  • Job Outlook

    Many new job openings are expected in the future; this career has a 10% growth rate and 5,200 projected annual openings.

  • Wages

    $62,080 (10th percentile), $208,000+ (90th percentile), $118,970 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Program Manager, Medical Records Manager, Nurse Manager, Director of Nursing, Mental Health Program Manager, Health and Social Service Manager, Clinical Director, Nutrition Services Manager

    These managers are responsible for medical and health services in a particular facility or organization; they plan, coordinate and direct services in health care organizations, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, and public health agencies. Day-to-day work might include recruitment and hiring to maintaining records and developing information systems to streamline the patient experience.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    long-term care administration, community health and preventative medicine, health information/medical records administrator, health services administration, public health

  • Example courses

    Healthcare Financial Management, Health Care Policies, Introduction to the U.S. Health Care Sector, Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care, Health Care Economics, Management in Health Care Organizations

  • Knowledge you need

    Those in this career are well-versed in management and administration concerns, as well as human resources. They have excellent communication skills that allow them to lead teams and supervise workers while providing excellent customer service to their patients or clients. Finally, they must have a knack for clerical work, as so much of their job relies on paperwork and computer systems.

  • Job Outlook

    With job growth at an impressive 21%, this is definitely a career with a bright employment outlook.

  • Wages

    $58,350 (10th percentile), $176,130 (90th percentile), $98,350 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Design Director, Director of Creative Services, Senior Art Director, Art Supervisor, Creative Director, Group Art Supervisor, Production Manager

    Art Directors work for a variety of places that rely on media and the translation of various art forms, from broadcast news to documentary film to print advertising. They formulate creative design concepts and figure out how to approach the presentation using visual communication. They might also work with layout design, create artwork, and supervise others who do the same.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    graphic design, digital arts, intermedia/multimedia

  • Example courses

    Media Storytelling, Graphic Design and Artistry, Modern and Contemporary Art, Public Art in the United States, Global Themes in Art

  • Knowledge you need

    Art Directors must have in-depth knowledge of all things creative, including fine arts and design, but must also be well-versed in sales and marketing. They should know a great deal about computers and electronics, as much of their work will be completed with ever-advancing technology. Good customer service, excellent communication and a firm grasp of different types of media are also requirements.

  • Job Outlook

    Expect this job to grow about the same as other occupations, adding 7,700 jobs per year for 5% growth.

  • Wages

    $51,130 (10th percentile), $170,230 (90th percentile), $92,500 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Project Superintendent, Construction Area Manager, Foreman, Job Superintendent, General Contractor, Project Manager, Construction Superintendent

    Construction Managers might be involved in every aspect of a building project, from conceptual development to organization, scheduling, budgeting and implementation. They work with anything from small facilities and systems to large infrastructure projects and commercial buildings. Some who are highly specialized in certain fields, such as plumbing or carpentry, often focus on managing crews that handle only those areas of a project. They are masters of planning, organizing, directing and delegating, with the goal of keeping the project safe, on time and under budget.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    construction management, construction engineering technology, business administration and management, operations management and supervision

  • Example courses

    Codes and Standards, Statics and Strengths of Materials, Construction Law, Mechanical and Electrical Systems, Construction Cost Estimating

  • Knowledge you need

    In-depth knowledge of construction materials is a must, as is a working knowledge of mathematics and design. Construction managers are not only experts in building, but in management and administration duties, as well. Engineering and technology prowess is expected, as is excellent communication skills that allow them to work with peers and customers alike.

  • Job Outlook

    At 11% job growth, construction manager positions are growing much faster than the average.

  • Wages

    $54,810 (10th percentile), $159,560 (90th percentile), $91,370 (median)

Online Master’s Degrees that Pay Well

Some professions require a master’s degree to get a foot in the door; but once that master’s degree is obtained, the possibilities for high pay and other perks can be quite nice. Here are five potential career paths and the programs that might lead to each.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

  • Similar titles

    Control System Computer Scientist, Computer Scientist, Scientific Programmer Analyst

    These tech-savvy individuals conduct research into the fundamental science of computers; they might be designers, theorists or inventors. They seek solutions to problems with computer software and hardware, including the search for improvements to existing options as well as creation of new technologies.

  • Online master’s to get there

    medical informatics, computer and information sciences, information studies, modeling, virtual environments and simulation

  • Example courses

    Analysis of Algorithms, Foundations of Artificial Intelligence, Operating Systems, Directed Research

  • Knowledge you need

    A deep understanding of computers and technology is a requirement, as well as the ability to educate and train others. A firm grasp of telecommunications and mathematics is vitally important, as is mastery of the English language for better communication.

  • Job Outlook

    This is a “bright outlook” job with 19% job growth expected.

  • Wages

    $65,540 (10th percentile), $176,780 (90th percentile), $114,520 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Certified Physician Assistant, Physician Extender, Mid-level Provider, Physician’s Assistant

    Physician Assistants do many of the same things physicians do, but they do it all under the supervision of those physicians. They conduct physicals, counsel patients, provide basic treatment, and might have the power to prescribe medications (depending upon state rules). In some rural or underserved areas, a physician assistant might be the only “doctor” working in a clinic.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    physician assistant

  • Example courses

    Pharmacology, Genetics and Disease, Psychosocial Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Patient History and Physical Examination

  • Knowledge you need

    Physician Assistants must have a strong working knowledge of medicine, dentistry, counseling and therapy. This also includes in-depth study of biology and psychology, both of which may be used on a daily basis. As with anyone who serves patients, good communication skills, including mastery of English, is a must.

  • Job Outlook

    With a 37% growth rate, this is one of the fastest-growing jobs in today’s economy

  • Wages

    $66,590 (10th percentile), $146,260 (90th percentile), $104,860 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Economic Analyst, Health Researcher, Research Analyst, Project Economist, Forensic Economist

    Economists conduct research by collecting and preparing economic and statistical data; they also prepare reports and formulate plans concerning economic problems. They seek to solve or assist with issues related to the production and delivery of goods and services, or seek to affect monetary and fiscal policy. They might work in the public or private sectors.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    political science, master of business administration (concentrations in economics, finance, etc.), applied economics

  • Example courses

    Microeconomic Theory, Statistics, Financial Econometrics, International Economics and Development, Quantitative Methods

  • Knowledge you need

    In-depth knowledge of mathematics, accounting and economics will be necessary for day-to-day work in this job, as well as excellent communication skills, including a firm grasp of the English language.

  • Job Outlook

    1,600 new job openings are projected each year for a 6% growth rate, making this a job that is growing about as fast as average.

  • Wages

    $56,400 (10th percentile), $172,580 (90th percentile), $102,490 (median)

  • Similar titles

    Clinical Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Therapist, Licensed Psychologist Manager

    Psychologists work closely with clients to diagnose and evaluate mental and emotional disorders. They conduct interviews, observe, administer psychological tests, and formulate treatments. They might work in a variety of settings, such as private practice, hospitals, prisons, schools and more.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    applied behavioral analysis, clinical child psychology, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy

  • Example courses

    Psychopathology, Behavior Therapy, Clinical Measurement and Evaluation, Group Psychotherapy Techniques

  • Knowledge you need

    Obviously a firm grasp of psychological techniques, therapy and counseling methods is a must for this position, but customer service also plays a role. Communication is vitally important, including a strong mastery of the English language.

  • Job Outlook

    With 14% job growth expected, this job has a bright outlook for employment.

  • Wages

    $42,460 (10th percentile), $123,920 (90th percentile), $75,090 (median)

  • Similar titles

    School Administrator, Principal, School Superintendent, Assistant Principal

    An Education Administrator oversees the academic, administrative or auxiliary activities of a school; those who work for elementary and secondary schools might work at one of these institutions or serve both through a central office. Their work includes supervision of employees, recruitment and hiring, developing goals for the schools and advising both employees and students.

  • Online bachelor’s to get there

    educational leadership and administration, secondary school administration, elementary and middle school administration

  • Example courses

    Data-Driven Leadership, Education Law, School Resource Management, Instructional Strategies and Models

  • Knowledge you need

    Education, training, management and administrative skills are expected with this job, but public safety and security, as well as customer service, are also requirements. Of course, communication skills should be top-notch.

  • Job Outlook

    With 21,200 projected job openings each year, this profession has an 8% expected growth rate, making ample open positions likely.

  • Wages

    $60,760 (10th percentile), $140,780 (90th percentile), $94,390 (median)

Defining the “Highest Paying” Online Degrees

How did we come up with this list of the highest paying degrees? The numbers come from the U.S. Department of Labor; specifically, information on earnings and wages came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics 2016 Survey. Education data came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Education and Training Data. To determine the highest paying occupations, the Department of Labor used the highest median wages for the latest wage data available (for this list, it was data from 2016). To compile our own list, we looked not only at the professions and their incomes, but also at bachelor’s and master’s degrees that could be completed either fully or partially online.

Resources

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook.

    This handbook provides in-depth information on careers, growth, incomes and more.

  • Career One Stop

    Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, this website is great for exploring careers, training and the education required.

  • GlassDoor

    This is not only a job listing site; it also provides information on various careers and companies.

  • LinkedIn

    A powerful networking tool designed to connect individuals as well as provide job opportunities.

  • Payscale

    This site focuses on income and wages for the most popular careers, including further information on how to obtain the education and training needed.

  • Research Career Fields

    This service of the U.S. government provides ample information on various professions.