With its 6 percent corporate income tax that has remained unchanged since 1972, excellent rail, air and port service and large concentration of high-tech workers, the state of Virginia regularly ranks first or second on Forbes' list of Best States For Business. Other accolades for Virginia in 2014 include being named Best State for Business by CNBC and Chief Executive Magazine, and Best State for Small Businesses by Business Insider.
Many careers are experiencing rapid growth in the Old Dominion state, including nursing, software development, accounting and business management and analysis. Students interested in entering Virginia's workforce can get their careers underway by enrolling in online schools in Virginia or at traditional campus-based institutions.
Highlight careers in Virginia
Virginia's top three industries -- professional and business services, financial activities and government -- accounted for more than 56 percent of the state's economic output in 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond reported.
In addition to that majority share of the state economy, here's a roundup of five of the top career sectors based on 2013 numbers for total in-state employment and median annual salary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
|Career||In-state employment||2013 median annual salary|
|General and operations managers||50,830||$114,030|
|Accountants and auditors||39,280||$71,120|
|Software developers, applications||37,990||$102,890|
Top programs and degrees in Virginia
Virginia's reputation as a leader in business and industry directly ties into one of the leading degree programs students at campus-based and VA online schools pursued during the 2012-2013 academic year. Here's a breakdown of the five top programs in Virginia based on total number of degrees awarded in that period according to the National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS database:
- Business management: 19,414
- Health-related professions: 12,869
- Social science: 8,169
- Liberal arts and sciences: 8,162
- Education: 7,179
Spotlight schools and cities in Virginia for Education
Colleges, universities and online schools in VA are all regulated by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, which reports that more than $7 billion is spent annually in higher education in Virginia.
According to the state council, there are 105 private not-for-profit institutions in Virginia and 107 for-profit educational institutions in the state. There are 19 out-of-state institutions licensed to operate in Virginia, and 144 vocational and technical colleges operate in the state.
Virginia is home to several well-respected public four-year colleges and university systems, including Virginia Technical Institute, the University of Virginia, George Mason University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Military Institute.
Arlington isn't the largest city in Virginia, but it easily has the most options for advanced education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 76 different public or private colleges, community colleges and technical schools located within 15 miles of Arlington.
Virginia Beach, the largest city in the state, also has many options for college education: There are 32 public or private colleges, community colleges and technical schools located within 20 miles of Virginia Beach. There are 39 different schools in or around Norfolk, while Richmond, the state capital, has 26 colleges, universities and distance learning schools.
Nearly 86 percent of students enrolled in Virginia public colleges and universities are from Virginia, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia stated, including 95-percent enrollment in the state's community colleges.
Educational costs in Virginia
According to the College Board's annual survey of colleges, average 2014-2015 tuition figures in Virginia were as follows:
- Two-year public schools: $4,549
- Four-year universities: $10,899
- Four-year private institutions: $28,395
Full-time undergraduate students in Virginia received the following sums in student aid for the 2013-2014 school year according to the College Board:
- Average grant: $8,080
- Average Federal Loan: $$4,840
- Other financial aid: $1,260
Accreditation for campus-based and online schools in Virginia
Attending an accredited college or online schools in Virginia ensures the quality of educational institutions and programs have been approved by a professional peer review process. Accreditation means that colleges and universities in Virginia meet established educational standards. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia notes that students still can receive quality education at non-accredited schools; however, many programs -- nursing for example -- require education from accredited schools in order to obtain licensure to work in the state, according to the BLS.
Students should ask their college admissions representative about accreditation prior to enrollment.
"Widespread but slower growth in 2013," U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/gsp_newsrelease.htm
"Virginia State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51000.html
"Overview of Higher Education System in Virginia," State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, http://www.schev.edu/schev/HigherEducationSysOverview.asp
"Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time," College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time
"May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_va.htm
"IPEDS Data Center," National Center for Education Statistics, December 18, 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/Default.aspx