There are plenty of people who land a job without first getting a college degree.

It’s still possible to start in an entry-level position, develop on-the-job skills, and move up the ranks. But in the long run, a formal education can have its advantages.

Following are four professions in the U.S. that typically require a bachelor’s degree and are projected to have the most openings between 2016 and 2026. In addition, discover how a bachelor’s in these areas has benefited Capella University alumni.


1. General and Operations Managers

If you’re a supervisor or department manager who’s worked your way up the ranks without a degree, General Manager or Operations Manager might be your next step. But you’ll probably need a bachelor’s degree to get there.

Adam Weller was happy with his career in management, but wanted to take the next step. He believed he needed a bachelor’s to get there. While earning his business degree via FlexPath at Capella University, Weller was impressed with how his courses were immediately useful in his career, even before graduation.

“So much of the content in my courses was directly related to what I do day in and day out at work,” he says. “At meetings, people would bring up a topic that was something I was writing a paper on, and I could add to the discussion. FlexPath helped me mold my career and take it to the next level, which was my key goal throughout the process.”


2. Registered Nurses

If you’re already providing patient care in a hospital or other health care environment as a registered nurse (RN) without a BSN, or you’ve had your eye on an RN program, you may be wondering why this job is on the list.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 80% of nurses should acquire at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020 to meet changing health care needs. A follow up comprehensive study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has shown that higher proportions of BSN-educated nurses are associated with lower patient mortality, lower odds of readmission, shorter lengths of stay, and significant cost savings.

Elizabeth Breckner already had an associate’s degree but wanted to further her expertise and career with a BSN. She enrolled in the RN-to-BSN FlexPath program because the self-paced learning format seemed like a good fit, allowing her to set her own schedule around her work and family.

Breckner was recently promoted to a full-time supervisory role. She knew that what she learned in her BSN program would help her in her new position.

“I am more accomplished, and it gives me better credibility,” she explains. “I have a much wider knowledge base now, and I’m better able to do research and mentor others. The BSN has been beneficial to me, my patients, and my nurse colleagues.”


3. Software Developers, Applications

Increase in demand for computer software has created rapid growth in employment of software developers, projected to increase by 17%.* Applications developers create or modify computer software or specialized programs to meet end-user and client needs. The job may involve database design/development and you might also supervise a team of computer programmers.

When Lisa Dowdell started working in IT for a government agency in 1990, degrees were not required for entry-level positions. “I didn’t need a degree, but I still wanted one,” she says. “I took a couple of classes here and there, but pretty soon it was 27 years later.”

She was inspired to pursue a BS in IT by her daughter, who earned a master’s in psychology from Capella. Dowdell first started in Capella’s GuidedPath learning format, but her level of experience after so many years in the field sometimes made her impatient to move faster.

“When I learned about FlexPath, that was the ticket,” she says. “My work experience certainly has gaps. What’s great is that I can take courses to fill these gaps and work as hard as I can, at my pace.”

Dowdell is now a Chief Deputy Clerk of Web Applications, and is pursuing her master’s in IT from Capella.

*SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition. Capella does not guarantee its learners will receive a job, promotion, salary level, or other career advancement.


4. Human Resource Specialists

HR specialists focus on recruitment. They help employers identify hiring needs, and then work to recruit, screen, interview, hire, and onboard new employees. Other responsibilities could include employee relations, retention, or benefits administration.

Although a bachelor’s degree may not be required for some entry-level HR positions, Dion Adeniyi found it helpful even before graduation.

“Since I started FlexPath, I was able to implement and streamline processes at work,” Adeniyi says. “I am also being trained for leadership roles.”

Adeniyi completed a BS in Business via FlexPath in July 2017.


FlexPath is currently available for select bachelor’s programs, including:


View all available programs with FlexPath.

* Disclaimer