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Online schools in Utah

For job seekers in Utah, getting a degree may be one way to open up employment opportunities. According to an analysis conducted by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 41 percent of online job postings in Utah in 2013 were seeking applicants with a college degree. That may be one reason the Utah System of Higher Education has set a goal of having 66 percent of the state's workforce earn a postsecondary degree by 2020.

Traditionally, students in Utah would head to college campuses to get a postsecondary education. They may have gone to Salt Lake City to study at the University of Utah or Provo to enroll in Brigham Young University. Another option may have been Logan, which got a nod from Liveability.com for being the second best college town in the U.S. for 2014. The mid-sized city is home to Utah State University and earned its spot on the list in part to its good jobs, highly educated workforce and affordable housing.

However, not everyone can travel to a college town like Logan to earn a degree. Fortunately, there are also plenty of online colleges in Utah that allow students to study on a schedule and in a location convenient to them.

To find out more about the state, its educational options and potential careers, explore the different sections of this guide. They include:

Industries in Utah
Online education in Utah
Best degrees in Utah
Colleges in Utah

Utah industries that need qualified workers

Utah already exceeds the national average when it comes to having a college-educated workforce. The Census Bureau found 30.3 percent of Utah residents older than age 25 had at least a bachelor's degree in 2010. At the same time, only 28.8 percent of residents nationally had a four year degree by age 25. That means the state may be well on its way to reaching the goal of having 66 percent of its workforce holding a degree by 2020.

One reason for the push for more degrees in Utah may be the number of key, high-tech industries in the state. The Economic Development Corporation of Utah notes the following are among 12 targeted, growing sectors of the economy.

  • Advanced composites
  • Aerospace
  • Data centers
  • Digital media
  • Information technology
  • Life sciences

These industries may have a particular need for high-skilled workers. The Georgetown University analysis found jobs in the STEM occupational cluster (science, technology, engineering and math) saw the fastest growth for college graduates, up 56 percent from 2010 to 2013. Meanwhile, healthcare services was the single fastest growing industry for college graduates with jobs in this field increasing 6 percent from 2010 to 2013.

How online colleges in Utah can help job seekers

While nearly a third of Utah residents have a bachelor's degree, there are still a significant number who may be locked out of new job opportunities because of their limited education. Unfortunately, traditional, campus-based degree programs may not be an option for some working adults who want to go back to school.

A better option for busy adults may be an online degree program. Online schools in Utah offer a number of affordable education options that may help prepare students for future careers in the state's growing industries. Schools currently offering online programs include a mix of public and private institutions:

  • Western Governors University
  • Full Sail University
  • Utah State University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Kaplan University

In addition, other schools are exploring online education options in anticipation of offering their own distance learning degrees. For instance, in the fall of 2015, the University of Utah plans to launch its UOnline Initiative that will put five degree programs fully online.

Although online degree programs may vary by institution, most allow students to log-in at whatever time is convenient for them. This makes it possible for working adults to keep their normal job hours and also avoids the possibility of school interfering with family events. Another benefit of online colleges in Utah is that students who live in rural areas may have access to more programs and eliminate the expense of commuting.

If you're interested, start exploring what online degrees might be offered near you by checking out this map, which shows the location of all colleges in Utah based on 2013 data from the NCES. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Top degree choices in Utah

Regardless of whether they study online or on-campus, students may want to focus on degree programs that will maximize their career opportunities after graduation. One way to do that is to focus on the degrees that are needed for some of the fastest growing jobs in Utah.

The following chart reviews some of these fast-growing occupations, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as the typical education needed for each position.

Education

Occupation

Expected job growth (2012-2022)

Bachelor or master's degree in geography

Geographer

104.8%

Bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering

Biomedical Engineer

67.3%

Master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics

Orthotist or Prosthetist

62.3%

Bachelor's degree and fluency in two languages

Interpreter or Translator

59.5%

Associate degree in sonography

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

54.1%

When it comes to income, medical professionals have the highest paid jobs in Utah. According to the BLS, the following were the five occupations with the highest average annual salary in 2014.

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeons - $247,050
  • Pediatricians, general - $236,410
  • Obstetricians and gynecologists - $228,130
  • Physicians and surgeons, all other - $209,430
  • Anesthesiologists - $206,710

Students interested in legal careers will find postsecondary law teachers have the highest salaries in that field, with an average annual salary of $146,570 in 2014. Among business careers, occupations in management seem to be particularly well-paid with marketing managers, sales managers and purchasing managers all making in excess of $100,000 per year, on average.

Notable college and online schools in Utah

As a less densely populated state, Utah may not have the same number of colleges and universities as what may be found in other areas of the country. Ten institutions are a part of the Utah System of Higher Education. There are also four Utah private institutions and another ten schools, such as those offering technical and vocational training, with a presence in the state.

Since the advent of online degree programs, Utah students have had the opportunity to enroll and earn degrees at schools across the country without ever having to leave their homes. However, there may be benefits to choosing a Utah institution, such as lower in-state tuition. For those who want to stick with a Utah college or university, here are a couple notable names in the state.

  • University of Utah: As the oldest and largest university in the state, the University of Utah was founded in 1850. It offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree choices to its 31,000 students. In 2015, the UOnline Initiative will launch with five fully online bachelor degrees in business administration, economics, psychology, nursing and social work. Online master's degrees in electrical and computer engineering are expected in 2017.
  • Brigham Young University: Affiliated with The Church of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University may be one of the most recognizable Utah educational institutions. It was founded in 1875 and offers a reduced tuition rate for church members which can make it a particularly good value for eligible students. The main campus in Provo offers an online bachelor's degree in general studies for former BYU students who did not finish their program. The BYU-Idaho campus administers 9 certificate, 6 associate degree and 11 bachelor's degrees online.
  • Western Governors University: Based in Salt Lake City, WGU is one of the original innovators of online degree programs. The university was designed by 19 governors of Western states in 1995 as a way to use technology to reach students unable to study through traditional degree programs. The university is fully online and includes four colleges that offer both undergraduate and graduate degree options. The school operates on a competency-based approach that allows students to move quickly through subjects for which they already have mastery.
  • Utah State University: Founded in 1888 as the Agricultural College of Utah, the school became Utah State University in 1957. In 2013, nearly 28,000 students enrolled, representing every U.S. state and 88 countries. USU offers 168 undergraduate degrees and 143 graduate degrees. The school currently offers 18 degree programs that can be earned fully online.
  • Salt Lake Community College: Salt Lake Community College serves more than 60,000 students on 10 campuses as well as through online classes. Students can choose from 120 areas of study that will lead to an associate degree, certificate or diploma. SLCC Online allows students to enroll in 200 classes, and fully online degree programs are being developed.

Online colleges in Utah include some of the state's most recognizable names in higher education. Whether you're interested in taking a class online or earning your entire degree without stepping foot on campus, there may be a program that meets your needs. Take a closer look at online schools in Utah and request additional information to learn more today.

Sources:
1. Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ut.htm
2. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. Utah Quick Facts, Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/49000.html
4. University of Utah develops UOnline Initiative, March 17, 2015, http://higheredutah.org/university-of-utah-develops-uonline-initiative/
5. About StepUp, Utah System of Higher Education, http://www.stepuputah.com/about-step-up/
6. Logan Rated as Second-Best College Town in America, Kerry Bringhurst, Utah Public Radio, August 18, 2014, http://upr.org/post/logan-rated-second-best-college-town-america
7. Growing Key Industries, edcUTAH, http://www.edcutah.org/key_industries.php
8. Colleges & Universities, State of Utah, http://www.utah.gov/education/colleges.html

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