Belanger-Haas said depending on where a graduate works, they can use their GIS skills in different ways. "You can apply it to whatever you're interested in," she said.
Students are trained in geographic information systems, remote sensing and global positioning systems. "It's basically a way of understanding the where -- where is something -- in your data," she said. A co-op is also required.
About 600,000 Americans work in the field today, and experts expect that number to rise to 850,000 by 2018, Belanger-Haas said. The demand in the Dayton area could grow significantly if Ohio lands a spot as one of six national test sites for drones.
The average salary is $35,000 to $65,000. Clark State also offers four certificates in the field, although Belanger-Haas said a degree is typically desired by employers.
Students do not need any background knowledge before entering the program, she said.
"I always compare learning geospatial technology to learn a new language," she said. "We teach you everything."
Each of the four students who have earned the degree since the program launched have a job in the area, she said. About 25 students are currently enrolled in the program.
What: Associate degree
Where: Kettering College
Why: Every graduate has a job within one year
Salary: Kettering graduates earn between $18 and $20 per hour, the school said
Respiratory therapy at Kettering College is a unique program that students can realistically begin with just a high school education background, said Nancy Colletti, program director.
While the region is overproducing nurses, according to the Dayton Development Coalition, just 12 to 18 students each year earn a respiratory therapy associate degree from Kettering. The area now has a balance between graduates of local respiratory therapy programs and job openings, Colletti said, so Kettering students are passing their licensure exam and finding work within 10 to 12 months of graduation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said respiratory therapy is a field that will grow faster than average, at 28 percent between 2010 and 2020. Colletti said experts do expect the field to grow partly because of the needs of the aging baby boomer generation and because of reforms to health care.
The academic program trains students to work with patients in emergency room settings and with people to manage conditions such as asthma. An associate degree is considered entry-level education, and Colletti said select hospitals are beginning to ask the employees earn bachelor's degrees.
INDUSTRIAL AND INNOVATIVE DESIGN
What: Bachelor's degree
Where: Cedarville University and the International Center for Creativity in Columbus
Why: Every graduate has a job or is pursuing an advanced degree
Salary: Median annual salary is $58,230, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
So far, seven students have graduated from a new industrial and innovative design degree program created by Cedarville and the International Center for Creativity in Columbus. Six of them promptly entered the workforce, and one is pursuing a graduate degree, said Mark Weinstein, Cedarville's spokesman.
The program is the first of its kind to be offered by a Christian university, and is "a great choice for a student that has a desire to utilize their creative talents in a practical way," said Jim Stevenson, president of the ICC.
Students spend their first two years at Cedarville and complete their education at the ICC. They choose from four study tracks: consumer product design, transportation design, interior space design or architectural and exterior space design. Like all other Cedarville students, they must complete a Bible minor.
What: Bachelor's degree
Where: Wittenberg University
Why: Field is growing faster than average
Salary: Median annual salary is $82,500, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Wittenberg is a liberal arts school that exposes students to a broad curriculum to allow for flexibility in any field, but students in the geology program also learn the fundamentals in a hands-on way.
The need for geologists is growing across the nation. The industry was expected the add 7,100 between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That 21 percent growth is faster than the average field. Most new jobs are in management, scientific and technical consulting services, the bureau reports.
In 2012, four students graduated from Wittenberg's program, and two entered graduate school. One is working in the gas industry in Ohio and one is working in Texas, said professor John Ritter. Nationwide, there were 3,200 graduates in 2012, according to the American Geosciences Institute.Three to eight students typically graduate in one year from Wittenberg.
"Right now there is a tremendous need. It comes not from one sector, but a lot of sectors," Ritter said. That includes people to work with oil and gas, to study the impact of fracking, and examine water resources in the western states.
Ritter said incoming students do not always think of geology when choosing their major.
"Students who come out of high school don't realize geology is a profession and a career," he said. "They really see it as a preliminary science course."
The median salary for geoscientists is $82,500, according to the bureau.
What: Bachelor's degree
Where: Central State University
Why: Every graduate has a job
Salary: Median annual salary is $78,740 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Central State University's environmental engineering program is unique, because it grew out of the school's water resources management program.
"Because the degree is unique and very few people know, there are few takers. So the few who choose the program will have many opportunities," said professor Krishna Kumar V. Nedunuri, who is also director of the International Center for Water Resources Management.
Central State began offering the environmental engineering degree in 2008, and students have seen great success with jobs so far, Nedunuri said. Typically, three to five students graduate per year, he said.
"There are opportunities now and they're only going to grow in the future," he said.
Nationally, the field is expected to add 11,300 jobs between 2010 and 2020, which is a 22 percent growth. That is faster than average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median pay is $78,740 per year, according to the bureau.
(c)2013 the Hamilton JournalNews (Hamilton, Ohio)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: Surprising degrees that lead to top jobs
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