Careers Worth Going Back To College For

It’s never too late to crack open the books, or laptop lid, and return to college. These careers make it worthwhile.

A man wearing a mask prepares to go back to college as an adult.

Let’s talk about a familiar topic on this blog, something I’ve brought up so many times the word itself has almost started to lose meaning, like when you repeat ‘food’ over and over again. I say almost because it hasn’t lost its meaning, and because the word ‘college‘ means a few different things to a few different people. It’s not as simple a concept as it first appears.

To a ready-to-cut-loose eighteen-year-old college may be a chance to get away from the parental units (as they’re known) and discover themselves and their place in the big, wide world. And that’s great. But to someone a bit older, a bit more seasoned, a return to college is about hitting refresh or hitting the update button. It’s about making an impactful positive change in one’s own life in order to do what: make a little more money? Focus on a longtime passion? Earn higher achievements and merit? Sure, all those reasons, and probably others too.

But going back to college as an adult is also about grit, tenacity, and determination. So let’s hit the refresh together; below are fields, with specific careers, definitely worth going back to college for.

In Brief:

  1. Healthcare, nursing, elderly care, medical office technician, behavioral health technician, etc.
  2. Computer and Information Technology, IT professional, information security analyst, data engineer, site reliability engineer, etc.
  3. Customer Success Specialists, sales development representatives, etc.
  4. Business, project manager, human resources manager, etc.
A diverse group of doctors and nurses smile at the camera on their break.


(Health is what we want; healthcare is what we need!)

The healthcare industry is obviously up to its eyeballs right now as COVID-19 cases leapfrog past previous records. It seems the pandemic has woken us all up to the notion that we need solutions, political, social, and humanistic, to this problem. And one of those solutions means lots of hiring and higher job growth rates.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data made available on September 1, 2020, of the top 30 “Fastest Growing Occupations” a whopping twelve were related to the healthcare industry. This includes stalwarts like nurse practitioners, Physician Assistants, and Physical Therapists.

But there are other roles tied to mental health and behavioral sciences, like behavioral health technicians and other mental health professionals, and even clerical and administrative jobs, which involve record keeping, billing, etc., are expected to see high growth in the coming years.

A diverse group of women work on a tech related task.

Computer & Information Tech

(It’s not that computers run the world, it’s that the people who run the computers do!)

The world is more online now than ever. “Cybersecurity” may be a buzzword, but with good reason. Information Security Analyst is one of the Bureau of Labor Statistics fastest growing occupations alongside data scientists and software developers. Securing our nation’s digital borders is an urgently needed job of both the present and future; think about it this way: as a cybersecurity specialist, you could be helping our nation day in and day out, like James Bond on a laptop (and not British, unless you’re also British).

In LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, Data Scientist, Data Engineer, and Cybersecurity Specialist all made appearances in the top ten, alongside other tech-centric careers like Site Reliability Engineer and Full Stack Engineer. None of these options are going away anytime soon, and are all worth a return visit to the campus quad.

A man works as a customer service rep at a high tech company; he wears glasses, works on a clipboard, and has a nice gray blazer.

Customer Success Specialists

(It can’t be all robots all the time, can it?)

Let’s say you’re comfortable around computers and tech, but don’t want to get too comfortable. Why not consider a career that’s rapidly developing in the world of technology: customer success and relations.

Number six and number seven, respectively, on LinkedIn’s Top Fifteen Emerging Jobs list are Customer Success Specialist and Sales Development Representative. The former is generally responsible for both understanding the technology their firm creates and simultaneously “managing the customer relationship” cultivated by the company. Sales Development Representative involves more of the sales side of technology and both jobs require a definite knowledge of Salesforce and, according to LinkedIn, that’s not going to change.

A young businessman in a suit works on his laptop while colleagues work nearby.


(Let’s get down to it.)

According to Life Hack, part of what makes project management such a worthwhile investment is its flexibility: “those seeking a career in project management can pursue a degree in a wide variety of fields, such as business management, computer science, marketing, or even engineering.”

If you’d rather manage people than projects, being a Human Resources Manager, or any role in Human Resources, may be a better fit. These folks focus on hiring new employees as well as supporting the existing employees and executives by making sure the office continues to function steadily and smoothly.

A career as a Human Resources Manager will doubtlessly require a four-year degree, and employers look for a varied resume of previous experiences (from customer service to team management) to catapult one applicant over the rest.

A young woman smiles at the camera because she's happy with her choice to return to college.

Wrappin’ It Up

As I said at the top of this blog, if you’re going back to college later in life, you want certainty, givens, opportunity, not ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes.’ And while there’s no 100% certainty, even with these careers, these are the jobs and fields projected to keep growing beyond 2020, and beyond the pandemic.

Speaking of which, we’re at a particularly grim moment; the potential for an ending is in sight. Multiple viable vaccines, the possibility of getting back to work, back to business, but not without the cost this winter has yielded—record cases, record deaths, rising unemployment. You may find yourself among the latter, among the millions facing payments and bills without a regular paycheck. Plus, if you found yourself burned out on your old career, or burned out with your lack of progress in a career you enjoy, it may be time to consider moving in another direction, going where the jobs are and will be.

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