The Centennial State is home to over 5 million people, and just over 250,000 of them were enrolled in college in 2010. Whether students select a large university in the capital city of Denver or choose to attend Colorado online schools, the degree earned can lead to bright horizons in the profession of their choice.
Living and Working in Colorado
Although its economy was originally built on the mining industry, Colorado is now a center of tourism, with $1.8 billion spent per year at ski resorts. Other industries are booming as well--according to Forbes, three of the eight Fortune 500 companies in the state focus on telecommunications.
The unemployment rate in Colorado was 4.2 percent in March 2015, below the national average of 5.5 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and manufacturing sectors saw the greatest gains.
The mean annual wage for all occupations in Colorado was $49,860 in May 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Online Colleges and Other Education Options
The average age of students attending college in Colorado is 25.5 years, which suggests that many students are in the "non-traditional" category. The Sloan Consortium, a group dedicated to quality online education, reports that over 1 million new students enrolled in online courses in 2010, and demand for virtual classes has increased recently. Non-traditional students often have family obligations as well as work responsibilities, and distance learning allows those students to take classes at their own pace and their own schedule.
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that of the 82,799 students admitted to Colorado schools in 2009, 37 percent received federal grant aid, 33 percent relied on institutional aid, and 17 percent received state or local aid. Loans were taken out by 53 percent of students. For those who encounter financial difficulty in attending traditional college courses, online colleges in Colorado can allow students to spread out their classes in order to ease the financial burden.
Salary and Job Outlook for the Centennial State
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment projects employment gains in the oil, gas and mining industries from 2010 to 2020. The industry encompasses many occupations, including petroleum engineers, extraction workers, rotary drill operators and explosives workers.
Other high-growth occupations from 2010 to 2020 in Colorado include the following, shown with their projected rate of job growth and mean annual wages for 2010 based on BLS data:
- Network systems and data communications analyst: 45 percent growth, with wages of $72,200. Most entry level positions require a bachelor's degree.
- Pharmacy technician: 43.8 percent growth, with wages of $30,930. Employers prefer to hire those who have earned a certificate, diploma or associate degree.
- Geoscientist: 42.1 percent growth, with wages of $96,610. A master's degree is the minimum educational requirement.
- Medical assistant: 41.4 percent growth, with wages of $32,570. Most medical assistants earn a diploma, certificate or associate degree.
A college degree can help open doors to these professions and others in Colorado. Online degrees can make the pursuit of higher education easier by allowing for greater flexibility with work, family and financial obligations.