The tectonic shifts in the global economy have set off some substantial changes in national work force dynamics around the world. China has moved to the fore in the manufacturing sector while U.S. plants have been abandoned. American universities aren’t turning out sufficient numbers of engineers and technology professionals; as a result there has been an influx of Asian, Indian, and Pakistani workers along with immigrants from other nations that are highly trained and highly motivated.
Workers in the U.S. from all sectors are finding a job market that looks very different from that of fifteen or twenty years ago. Large numbers of college students are concluding that a graduate degree may be what’s required to break into the careers they covet. Certainly there has been a lot of chatter in academia about today’s master’s degree being yesterday’s bachelor’s – and there’s some merit to that notion in certain economic niches.
New Academic Options
But there are also millions of trained professionals now out of work who were successful at the jobs they lost to the economic realities of recession and outsourcing. Many people are opting to refocus their career goals, out of necessity or in some cases because new job profiles have developed in those industrial sectors that are growing. The academic world has responded to these trends by creating several classes of new degrees and by expanding continuing education options. Many of these programs are offered online in order to make them more accessible to adults who have family and/or employment obligations.
Five Examples of Educational Adaptation
In the field of teaching the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) was created to provide an opportunity for working teachers to upgrade their academic credentials, since in almost all states teachers that hold a master’s degree earn more than those with a bachelor’s. The MAT is also an option for people who hold
a degree in some other field but would like to become teachers in their field
of expertise. Someone with a bachelor’s in economics or statistics or math who enrolls in a MAT program can be working in the classroom within a year, teaching math under supervision by an experienced educator. The University of
Southern California has developed an impressive online MAT program available
- In the field of teaching the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) was created to provide an opportunity for working teachers to upgrade their academic credentials, since in almost all states teachers that hold a master’s degree earn more than those with a bachelor’s. The MAT is also an option for people who hold a degree in some other field but would like to become teachers in their field of expertise. Someone with a bachelor’s
in economics or statistics or math who enrolls in a MAT program can be working in the classroom within a year, teaching math under supervision by an experienced educator. The University of Southern California has developed an impressive online MAT program available nationwide.
- The rapid changes in technology, in materials science and in industrial opportunities have brought engineering professionals back to the classroom. Someone with years of experience may well not need an additional degree, but many schools have introduced certificate programs for a rapid educational boost. The University of Florida offers online
engineering certificates in sustainable engineering, systems engineering, solar energy, and wind turbines, for example.
- There are dozens of nursing schools offering the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as an option for working nurses who have an
RN license but no bachelor’s degree. There are programs designed to trained licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to become RNs. And there are MSN “direct entry” programs for students who have a bachelor’s degree but no background in nursing. Marquette University offers
this program, which begins with an intensive 15 months that leads to the RN examination.
- Until recently many of the traditional sciences had no master’s degree; chemistry, physics, and biology graduates could enter the PhD program and become academics. Today a class of degree called the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) has emerged to provide options for science oriented students interested in a career in industry rather than academia.
George Washington University offers a PSM in molecular biotechnology. Case Western Reserve University has a master’s degree in “Chemistry for Entrepreneurship.” Rice University offers a program in Nanoscale
- For business professionals who want to modernize their formal studies, the University of California at Berkeley offers certificate programs that address recent changes in the business of business. Certificates typically take
nine months to a year to complete. At Cal Berkeley there are evening programs for Integrated Marketing Communications, Strategic Online Marketing, Project Management, and several other corporate niches.
Options for the Rest of Us
If you don’t fit into any of these career categories there are still dozens of academic options to support a career change. If you have a working knowledge of databases, health informatics is a booming field; Drexel University has an online certificate program. If you’ve lost an accounting position, Northeastern University has a certificate program in forensic accounting. If you’ve been working in a law office you can find certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies. The key to a successful career change is selecting a field where there’s a steady flow of job opportunities and obtaining the required training to go after one of them. It may not be as challenging as you think.
About the author:
Bob Hartzell has been writing for five years about education and other life essentials on a variety of websites. His focus on online graduate programs is in
recognition of the fact that the job market has completely jumped the tracks in
the last twenty years. He lives in Maine which he says is a lovely place to live but you’d best bring your job with you.