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Online Schools in Montana

Online Degree Programs: Making Education Accessible

Montana online schools, including state universities, colleges and community colleges, offer a variety of online degrees in Montana to help students learn a new profession or potentially advance in their field. These online schools in Montana help make professors and programs available to residents living far outside the urban education centers in Montana, such as Bozeman, the home of Montana State University, or Missoula, home of the University of Montana. These Montana online colleges offer programs in such fields as educational leadership, nursing, and science and engineering management. The courses may follow exact schedules, just like face-to-face courses, and offer interaction with professors and fellow students. But they also allow the flexibility of studying when and where it's convenient.

Distance Learning Helps Meet Montana's Employment Demand

Many online degrees in Montana are designed to meet future employment demands in the state. Although Montana was not as hard hit by the recession as some states, it has been slow to recover the jobs lost between 2007 and 2009. One exception has been the healthcare industry, which continued to add jobs during the recession and is expected to see continued growth for the next several years. According to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (wsd.dli.mt.gov/), the healthcare industry should provide opportunities to unemployed workers from other fields who are willing to be retrained. The state's Research and Analysis Bureau (wsd.dli.mt.gov/service/rad.asp) predicts that education and business services fields could also offer opportunities for these workers.

Some jobs that should see the highest demand from 2010 to 2020 are physician assistants and physical therapists, both of which require a master's degree. Registered nurses with associate degrees, and licensed practical and vocational nurses should also be in high demand, according to the state's Department of Labor and Industry. Online schools in Montana are responding to this demand by offering degrees in fields such as nursing, microbiology and psychology. Master's or doctorate degrees are available in physical therapy and public health, and associate degrees are available in a variety of medical support professions, including health information coding, healthcare informatics, medical billing, surgical technology and medical transcription.

Online Degree Programs: Assisting Working Professionals

Online degrees in Montana are particularly appealing to those who are already working but want to advance or move into a new field. Students can study on the weekends or in the evening, without having to leave their job or move. Although many jobs in Montana don't require postsecondary education, the state reports that there should continue to be demand for workers with higher education, particularly for registered nurses, general managers, operations managers, elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, and accountants and auditors (wsd.dli.mt.gov/service/rad.asp).

Professionals interested in advancing in or entering in these fields can pursue online degrees at Montana State University (montana.edu) in elementary education, educational leadership, library science, nursing, technology education, business administration and agricultural education. The University of Montana (umt.edu) offers associate or bachelor's degrees in early childhood education, and master's or doctorate degrees in curriculum studies, educational leadership and music education. The University of Great Falls (ugf.edu), a private Catholic college, offers distance learning bachelor's and associate degrees in criminal justice, paralegal studies and addictions counseling.

Industries for Job Growth in Montana

There are more than 480,000 workers in Montana (bls.gov), and the highest percentage (16 percent, or 69,570 people) work in office and administrative support jobs; 11 percent are in sales or related occupations; 10 percent are food preparers and servers; and 7 percent are in education, training and library occupations. Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations employ 25,240 people, making it a major employer, and healthcare support occupations employ 13,150 people.

About 4.5 percent of the jobs in Montana are considered green jobs, meaning the work results in benefits to the environment, and that field is expected to need about 500 new workers a year in Montana through 2020 (swib.mt.gov). Green jobs pay higher-than-average wages but require more training and experience, and Montana's 24 public, private and tribal colleges, community colleges and universities (mus.edu) are supplying that demand with courses in land resources and environmental science, residential building performance and science education.

The demand for healthcare workers is being fueled by Montana's aging population, which likely may need increased medical care. Healthcare and education workers comprise nearly 25 percent of Montana's total workers (wsd.dli.mt.gov/service/rad.asp), adding about 6,500 jobs a year, even during the recession. This presents opportunities for workers who lost their jobs when the state's construction and manufacturing industries faltered during the recession, resulting in a 30 percent job loss. Those industries are not expected to quickly recover, so many of those workers will need some additional training and education to find new jobs in the fields that are hiring.

Sources:
Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Montana Employment Projections, 2010 through 2020, 2010
Montana State University
Montana University System
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Montana, 2011
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Montana Economy at a Glance, 2012
Colleges and Universities in Montana
University of Great Falls, Distance Learning

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