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For residents of Utah, earning a college degree can be an important step toward a rewarding career that could also boost the state's economy. Utah's department of higher education reports that each college graduating class is estimated to add about $450 million to Utah's economy from earned wages in a single year. Such an impressive figure shows the value of higher education in Utah.

Living and working while learning in Utah online schools

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for workers in Utah was $40,120 in 2010, which is just slightly below the national mean. However, Utah residents enjoy a relatively low cost of living. Information from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center ranks Utah at 17th on its cost of living index, with housing costs nearly 15 percent below the national average and utility costs almost 20 percent below.

Nationwide, education is powering the economic recovery as job growth is concentrated in fields that require tend to require some post-secondary training. Utah is no exception. According to a 2011 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 66 percent of Utah jobs are expected to require a college education or certificate by 2018 and the growth in jobs for those with post-secondary training is expected to be more than double that for jobs available to high school graduates.

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the professional and business services sector added the most jobs in the state between May 2010 and May 2011. Other growing industries included manufacturing, education, health care, and trade, transportation and utilities.

Utah online degrees make learning convenient

Because Utah's economy relies so heavily on educated professionals, earning a degree can be an important step toward career success. However, barriers to completing college exist for many Utah students, including difficulty balancing work and school, time to commute to school or the need to work to pay for classes. Online schools in Utah may be one way students can start to overcome those obstacles.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, students from rural areas in Utah consistently lag behind their urban counterparts in high school and college completion rates. As a result, incomes are lower and poverty rate higher in rural areas. Utah online schools can help students in the state's rural areas get an education without commuting or relocating to an urban area.

In addition to benefits for students, Utah online degrees can also help the state economy, as figures from the University of Utah show that each public dollar invested in education produces a $7 return into the state-wide economy.

Majors at Utah online schools

According to Projections Central, the following jobs are projected to be among the fastest-growing ones in the state for the 2016-26 time period. They are listed along with 2010 median hourly wages.

  • Physical therapist assistants: 56.2 percent projected growth rate. Hourly wage: $8.70 (entry level), $16,70 (median). Education required: Associate degree.
  • Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers: 42.3 percent projected growth rate. Hourly wage: $14.40 (entry level), $18.60 (median). Education required: Post-secondary vocational training.
  • Financial analysts: 27.3 percent projected growth rate. Hourly wage: $19.10 (entry level), $26.60 (median). Education required: Bachelor's degree

Students interested in entering any of these growing fields can benefit by seeking out education from Utah online schools. In fact, a college degree just might be the best way to enter any of these growing sectors.

Source: Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026), Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

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