Online Schools in Washington

Online and Hybrid Degree Programs: Accessible Education

With more than 40 colleges and dozens of community colleges in Washington,  students have options. However, the majority of Washington colleges and universities are in Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue. Individuals outside of these urban areas, particularly along the coast or the sparsely-populated mountain region in the northeast, could have difficulty accessing classroom instruction.

Thankfully geographical barriers no longer prevent students from earning an education that could help them enjoy expanded job opportunities or pursue career advancement in their current field. Online colleges in Washington can benefit students living in rural areas, allowing them to access higher education and work toward a degree.

Distance Learning Helps Fill Washington Jobs

Home to Boeing’s global headquarters, Washington has been closely tied to aerospace design, development and manufacturing for nearly 100 years. According to the Washington Employment Security Department (esd.wa.gov), the industry is expected to be a source of future employment growth, and the number of aerospace engineers is projected to increase 1.8 percent per year between 2010 and 2015, adding approximately 296 positions annually during that timeframe.

The University of Washington (washington.edu) offers an online master of aerospace engineering program, which is designed for graduate students and engineering professionals. Each course in the program has its own webpage that serves as a central location for course information, assignments and announcements, and each lecture is recorded and posted to the course website.

Spokane-based Gonzaga University (gonzaga.edu) has established an online master of arts degree program in communication and leadership studies. The program’s online format allows working professionals to pursue a degree without sacrificing their family and career responsibilities.

Drawing students from a variety of professional backgrounds, including broadcasting, public relations, advertising and human resources, the program aims to position graduates for management- and executive-level positions. One example of well-aligned management roles, communication leadership positions, are projected to be on the rise in Washington, according to the state’s Employment Security Department (esd.wa.gov), which expects the number of marketing specialists to increase 3.4 percent annually between 2010 and 2015.

Online Degree Programs: Educating Working Professionals

Working professionals are the primary students of Washington online colleges; and it’s no surprise since the ability to complete coursework over the internet offers increased flexibility. To get a feel for how online degree programs actually mange schedule flexibility, you only have to look at the hybrid master of science in dental hygiene program offered at Eastern Washington University (ewu.edu). Available to students who possess a current dental hygiene license, the program is focused on preparing graduates who are technically, intellectually and ethically prepared for the dental profession.

While the majority of the program is online, it also requires two visits to the university’s Riverpoint campus in Spokane. The first visit is one week long, and involves advanced clinical techniques and patient treatment. The second visit is required for the thesis defense, or presentation of the graduate research project. The Washington Employment Security Department (esd.wa.gov) projects that dental hygienists will increase 1.8 percent annually between 2010 and 2015, adding more than 100 positions per year.

Similarly tailored toward heping current professionals prepare for career advancement, Washington State University (wsu.edu) has developed an online master of science in agriculture program, with a specialization in food science and management. Offered jointly by Washington State University and the University of Idaho, the fully-online program is specifically intended for to enhance the skills of food science professionals, including food safety experts, product developers and food producers.

Agricultural and food science technicians are expected to grow 1.3 percent annually between 2010 and 2015, according to the Washington Employment Security Department (esd.wa.gov), while food scientists and technologists are expected to grow 0.8 percent per year. Future employment is expected to be driven by increased demands for food safety, sustainable agriculture and biotechnology expertise.

Industries for Job Growth in Washington

Nearly 3.2 million working professionals were employed in Washington in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012). The state’s leading employment industry was trade, transportation and utilities, which accounted for approximately 542,000 jobs. Trailing just behind, government positions made up approximately 536,000 jobs, making it the second-highest industry for employment in Washington. Fueled by teaching and nursing positions, education and health services made up nearly 390,000 occupations, ranking third among state industries.

Online schools in Washington can assist individuals looking for career opportunities in financial services or technology—two primary areas of job growth in the state. The Washington Employment Security Department (esd.wa.gov), estimates that the number of financial analysts will increase by 2.7 percent annually between 2010 and 2015. The number of software engineers and developers is also expected to grow, with application developers projected to increase 3.2 percent between 2010 and 2015. It is anticipated that systems software developers will also receive a boost during that time, increasing by approximately 2.6 percent.

Sources:
State of Washington
University of Washington
Gonzaga University
Washington State University
Eastern Washington University
Washington State Employment Security Department, Washington Industry Control Totals for Occupational Employment Projections, 2012
Washington State Employment Security Department, Washington Occupational Employment Projections, 2012
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington Economy at a Glance, 2012