Alaska, known as the last frontier of the United States, is a vast and sparsely populated state. With this topography, Alaska faces unique challenges in education and employment. Students may appreciate the convenience and flexibility of an Alaska online degree or a hybrid degree program with both on-campus and online components.
Living and Working in Alaska
The 2010 census puts Alaska's population at 710,231, an increase of 13.3 percent over 2000. Nearly 40 percent of the population resides in Anchorage, the largest city. Because of the climate, some jobs are seasonal, but the economy still requires year-round occupations such as teachers, accountants, salespeople and medical professionals. Oil and gas extraction is the leading industry, although it is declining. Commercial fishing and processing, government services, health services, and wholesale or retail trade are also significant sectors of the economy. Other important industries include mining, agriculture, timber and transportation.
Unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent in April 2015, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2014, workers in the state earned a mean annual income of $54,040 for all occupations. Because of its unique geography, economy and climate, some careers are better rewarded financially in Alaska than in other states.
Alaska Online Degree Programs
The University of Alaska consists of three main campuses in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Because of Alaska's large expanses of wilderness, some students in the state may not live near traditional campus-based schools or may find travel to those locations difficult. A variety of Alaska online schools provide options for recent high school graduates or working professionals who want to further their education. The seasonal nature of some key jobs in Alaska, such as fishing or construction may also make Alaska online schools a convenient choice for students with fluctuating work schedules.
Growing Careers in Alaska
The BLS expects strong job growth for certain occupations between 2012 and 2022 in Alaska. Here are some sample careers with the projected national growth rate, as well as the mean annual wages for May 2014:
- Registered nurses: 19 percent growth and $85,740 salary
- Elementary school teachers: 12 percent growth and $71,460 salary
- Foresters: 3 percent growth and $67,720 salary
Registered nurses are in high demand, as the health care industry in Alaska is growing rapidly. Sixty percent work in a hospital environment, and the rest in doctor's offices or public health. An associate or bachelor's degree or a diploma from an accredited nursing program is required for licensing. The BLS listed the 2010 salary for registered nurses in Alaska as the fourth-highest in the United States for that occupation.
Elementary school teachers in Alaska are the highest-paid in the U.S., according to the BLS. Students who enjoy working with children can seek a bachelor's degree in education, the first requirement for obtaining a teaching credential. Most elementary school teachers in Alaska are employed by the public school system, with a smaller number working in private and religious schools.
With Alaska's vast timber resources, the state employs one of the highest percentages of forestry workers. Educational requirements include a bachelor's degree in forestry, biology, natural resource management or environmental sciences. About 68 percent of foresters are employed by federal, state or local governments.
Training from one of the many Alaska online schools can put you on the path to a successful career in these and other exciting and rewarding fields.