Schools offer quick degrees that pay off with high wages, high demand jobs

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Are you happy with your job? Are you making enough in your career? If the answer is ‘no’, you’re not alone.

Lots of Hoosiers are switching their careers and changing their lives in two years or less. And as FOX59 found out, it’s all about picking the right degree that will pay off in the end.

At Brightwood College, nursing classes are in high demand. With the average salary for a registered nurse at about $57,000, it’s easy to see why.

Nursing is the number one job on the Hoosier Hot 50 jobs list. The list, which was created by Indiana Department of Workforce Development, ranks the state’s most demanded jobs with the highest wages.

But DWD Commissioner Steve Braun noticed a gap: some industries can’t find enough help.

"At any one point in time, there’s 70,000 to 100,000 job openings that are out there going unfilled,” said Braun. "We’re trying to come up with the right education opportunities with our education partners to make sure we’re training against filling those gaps."

Schools like Brightwood College and Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana are trying to help.

"There are so many opportunities out there now," said Kathleen Lee, Chancellor of Ivy Tech of Central Indiana.

Lee says more and more Hoosiers, unhappy with their jobs, are going back to school as adults and completely changing their careers.

In many cases, they’re doing it in just two years or less.

According to recent Census data, the median household income in Indianapolis is $42,076. Lee says some of these fast track degrees can lead to much more than that.

"We can start with something really short like welding which is literally less than a year long. It’s a short certificate that can lead to a $60,000 or more a year job."

Indiana’s manufacturing industry has also seen a resurgence of jobs, but it’s a whole new world.

"When people think of going into manufacturing, they think of the old manufacturing. But now it’s very automated, very computer oriented, robotics," said Lee.

Believe it or not, hospitality workers are also in high demand in central Indiana, partly due to a growing local food scene. Chef Thom England works as an instructor at Ivy Tech’s Culinary School. He says many students actually drop out of school early to accept jobs.

“Restaurants are trying to hire them as soon as they finish those first couple of classes,” said England. “It could be eight weeks.”

And while nursing is a hot job, it can be very competitive and take years of schooling. That’s why local colleges suggest checking out other careers in the health field that can pay off more quickly.

“The medical assisting and dental assisting fields are two of the programs that are nine months long and can get a person into a new career making a solid wage in a very short period of time,” said Brightwood College President Brent Jenkins.

Lee agrees.

“Dow Agro, Eli Lilly, Roche, Cook are all companies that came to us and said, ‘We need folks with very specific lab skills.’ And those are great paying jobs,” she said.

Many schools try to make these programs affordable. To learn more about programs and tuition at Ivy Tech click here. To learn more about programs and tuition at Brightwood College click here.

Bottom line: the jobs are out there. It’s just a matter of finding the right degree that pays.