5 Degrees That Make Sense to Earn in Pennsylvania

Degrees in Pennsylvania

  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering
  • Master of Business Administration With a Business Management Specialization
  • Associate of Arts Degree in Culinary Arts
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting

If you’re thinking of attending college in Pennsylvania and then working in the area after graduation, perhaps you’re wondering about the state’s future employment outlook. Which are the top industries in Pennsylvania? In which niches are Pennsylvania’s best future job opportunities likely to be found? Which academic credentials do you need to be a competitive candidate in the Pennsylvania job market? Read on for a discussion of 5 degrees that make sense to earn in Pennsylvania right now.

1. Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering

Buried beneath the state of Pennsylvania and other neighboring states lies a massive deposit of natural gas known as the Marcellus shale. The shale’s presence in the region has both advantages and disadvantages for Pennsylvania residents. One of the downsides is that the process of extracting the shale from the earth can do devastating amounts of harm to the environment.

A common method of natural gas extraction that oil companies are using in Pennsylvania is known as hydraulic fracturing, also called “fracking”. Fracking is a process that typically involves injecting a horrifying mixture of toxic chemicals, along with massive quantities of water, into the earth. The process forces the embedded oil and gas to come to the surface where it can be more easily accessed for use. Pennsylvania has had crisis-level problems with drilling violations that have killed fish and wildlife, polluted drinking water supplies, accelerated the process of ground erosion, put human health at risk and caused significant environmental damage.

In many cases, environmental engineers are the professionals tasked with cleaning up messes of this proportion. About 3,250 environmental engineers are already at work in the state of Pennsylvania, and more will be needed in the future. Experts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast that the number of available jobs in this specialization will grow at a rate of 12 percent over the course of this decade.

A BS degree in environmental engineering would qualify you for an entry-level position in this field. A master’s degree would qualify you for even better environmental engineering career opportunities. As of 2016, the median annual salary for environmental engineers in the USA was $84,890.

Pennsylvania colleges offering environmental engineering programs at either the undergraduate or graduate levels include Wilkes University, Lehigh University, Geneva College, Penn State, Carnegie Mellon University and Drexel University.

2. Master of Business Administration With a Business Management Specialization

According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two most significant industries in Pennsylvania are “office and administrative support occupations” and “sales and related occupations”, which currently employ a combined total of over 1,500,000 Pennsylvania residents. A Master’s degree in business administration would give you a wide range of employment options in either of these industries and others.

A specialization in business management would be particularly useful, as it could help to qualify you for some of the region’s highest-paying management jobs. 70,430 general managers and operations managers are already working in the state of Pennsylvania earning median annual salaries of $125,560. There are 16,190 financial managers working in the state earning median annual salaries of $149,980. These are just a couple examples of possible job titles that would be available to you if you were to earn your MBA degree; managers working in many different specializations are needed to supervise Pennsylvania’s sizable workforce.

Read: 30 Best Value Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania universities offer many excellent MBA programs. Two possibilities include Penn State’s online MBA program and Wharton’s 20 month MBA program.

3. Associate of Arts Degree in Culinary Arts

498,240 Pennsylvania residents are employed in occupations relating to food service and food preparation. Some of the best-paid Pennsylvania-based workers in this niche are chefs, who typically earn annual median salaries of $51,330. An associate’s degree in culinary arts would prepare you well for a chef’s job in Pennsylvania’s upscale restaurants and eateries.

Pennsylvania schools offering culinary arts degree programs include the American Academy of Culinary Arts, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts and many others.

4. Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing

The healthcare industry is one of Pennsylvania’s primary sources of employment. There are already about 139,480 registered nurses, 5,070 nurse practitioners, 3,210 nursing instructors and 76,300 nursing assistants employed in the state. More nurses will be needed in the future to provide healthcare to Pennsylvania’s population. Experts at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast that the US economy will be creating new career opportunities for registered nurses at a rate of 16 percent through the year 2024, so the employment outlook for RNs is favorable.

Registered nurses in Pennsylvania are currently earning median annual salaries of $68,770. If you want to earn a paycheck at the upper end of this range, obtaining a bachelor’s degree is worthwhile. The entry-level requirement for employment as an RN is less stringent, as a nursing diploma is all you absolutely need to find work in this niche.

Penn State and Drexel University are two Pennsylvania institutions offering Bachelor of Science nursing degree programs.

5. Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting

Businesses all need competent, detail-oriented accountants, so an accounting degree is a worthwhile investment if you seek job security. Pennsylvania businesses already employ 60,390 accounting clerks earning median annual paychecks of $38,660 and 52,590 accountants / auditors earning median annual paychecks of $73,500. Earning your bachelor’s degree would help to qualify you for some of the mid to high level jobs in this niche, as you’d be better prepared than candidates holding associate’s degrees. Penn State offers an online Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, and there are many other excellent accounting degree programs available in the region.

These 5 degrees are all likely to lead to lucrative future employment opportunities in the state of Pennsylvania. If you’re thinking of upgrading your academic credentials, it’s worthwhile to attend college in Pennsylvania to earn any of the degrees mentioned above.