Wisconsin is not only a leading agricultural state and one of the main producers of America's cheeses, but manufacturing, consumer goods and tourism are also major industries. The world-famous Harley-Davidson motorcycles are made in the state. And the University of Wisconsin is one of the most important centers for the research and development of biotechnology.
Wisconsin workers benefit from a relatively solid labor market and a reasonable cost of living. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the mean annual wage in 2009 in Wisconsin at $40,190, which is just below the national average. But according to 2010 data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Wisconsin has a cost of living just below the national average. In March 2011, the Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development listed the unemployment rate at 7.4 percent, which compared favorably to the national average of 8.8 percent.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Wisconsin's 2009 gross domestic product was $239 billion, derived mostly from manufacturing, real estate, finance, health care, government and retail trade.
Cutbacks to Wisconsin state schools
While Wisconsin has a strong public university system, cutbacks are affecting higher education. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, $250 million in cuts to the higher education system are being proposed in the new biennial budget.
The University of Wisconsin, the state's flagship public university, offers a limited number of online classes as well as one online associate degree. Private, for-profit universities that operate nationwide offer a wide variety of online classes--including business, criminal justice, education, information technology and nursing--as well as greater flexibility in scheduling.
Getting a degree at Wisconsin online schools is ideal for busy working adults who cannot commit to an in-person class schedule. Many online degree programs are self-paced, while other programs, especially those associated with on-campus programs, follow a traditional college schedule. Depending on the program, students can take one class at a time or take several concurrently.
Wisconsin labor market: Where the jobs are
Whether you are attending one of the Wisconsin online schools or a traditional on-campus program, training in a high-growth field can prepare you for the jobs that are in demand in the state. The state agency Worknet projects the highest employment growth between 2008 and 2018 in the areas of ambulatory health care services (21.4 percent), social assistance (21 percent), nursing and residential care facilities (16.9 percent), and administrative and support services (10.5 percent).
The following are some of the highest-growth jobs in Wisconsin from 2008 to 2018, according to the Wisconsin Department of Labor, along with state salary information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Nurse. According to 2009 data from the BLS, registered nurses (RN) make up the largest portion of the health care professionals, and job growth is expected to be excellent. Applicants with bachelor's degrees in nursing typically have the best chances for advancement, but an associate degree is sufficient to get you started. In 2009, the mean annual wage for registered nurses was $63,200 in Wisconsin and the profession should see growth of 19.4 percent in the state.
- Financial examiner. These professionals ensure that business deals and financial transactions comply with legal and regulatory codes. A bachelor's degree is required for entry-level positions, but a master's degree may be the ticket to advancement. The 2009 mean annual wage was $68,700 and job growth of 31.8 percent is expected.
- Athletic trainer. A bachelor's degree in athletic training is the minimum requirement to get into the profession, but many professionals on the college level hold master's degrees. According to the BLS, students take classes in human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and biomechanics. In Wisconsin, athletic trainers earned a mean annual wage of $43,810 in 2009 and are expected to experience job growth of 27.3 percent from 2008 to 2018.
Regardless of the degree, field, or school you choose, getting an education is a smart choice. Online schools in Wisconsin can help make that choice fit your lifestyle.