Compared to other states in the nation, Vermont boasts excellent levels of degree attainment. A recent report from the Lumina Foundation highlights this fact. As of 2013, they found 45.5 percent of Vermont adults ages 25-64 possessed at least a two-year degree, compared to just 40 percent on a national level.
In their study, titled A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, the Lumina Foundation also broke down degree attainment in Vermont by type. In 2013, 8.86 percent of residents held an associate degree, 22.83 percent had a bachelor's, and 13.84 percent held a graduate or professional degree. Further, 29.84 percent held only a high school diploma, and 18.03 percent had some college experience, but no degree. That second set of numbers goes to show where Vermont still has room for improvement.
Fortunately, a sturdy infrastructure for higher education already exists in the state. Even though Vermont is relatively small in terms of size, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows the state offers 28 separate institutions of higher education. That list includes everything from large public and private schools, to community colleges, trade schools, and beauty schools. Continue reading to learn more about educational offerings in the state, as well as details regarding on-campus and online degrees in Vermont.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Vermont?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Vermont's workforce was made up of 301,050 workers in 2014. Collectively, they earned a mean annual wage of $44,540, which works out to $21.41 per hour.
In the state, workers are reliant on a number of fast-paced and rewarding industries. However, some industries offer higher pay and higher levels of employment for college graduates. Here are some of the jobs with the highest pay and employment levels in 2015:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||41,120||$37,850|
|Sales and Related Occupations||29,840||$39,090|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||26,710||$48,720|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||26,520||$28,380|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||18,530||$85,340|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||17,000||$37,130|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||15,080||$65,630|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||14,600||$44,200|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||12,900||$30,510|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||12,730||$46,590|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||11,110||$30,840|
|Community and Social Service Occupations||9,190||$41,950|
When it comes to big cities and rural areas, Vermont has a little of both. The state is not only home to the Burlington, Vermont metropolitan area, but also larger urban towns such as South Burlington, Rutland, Barre, and Montpelier.
According to the Vermont chamber of commerce, key industries in the state include manufacturing of various agricultural products, advanced manufacturing of electronic components and equipment, and dairy farming. Further, state employment projections show that the following industries could see the most growth through 2022:
- Personal Care and Service
- Community and Social Service
- Healthcare Support
- Construction and Extraction
- Healthcare Practitioners and Technical
Employment projections also indicate that jobs for those with a college education or technical skills are set to increase at a faster rate than all jobs combined. According to the data, job openings for individuals with professional or graduate degrees are expected to rise 10.6 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than any other level of degree attainment. Following closely behind are jobs for those with associate degrees (9.5 percent), postsecondary non-degree awards (9.3 percent), and bachelor's degrees (7.6 percent).
In addition to a solid job market for college graduates, Vermont features relatively high wages and low levels of poverty. As the U.S. Census Bureau reports, the median household income in Vermont was $54,267 in 2014, which is higher than the national average. Further, only 11.8 percent of Vermont residents lived in poverty through 2013, compared to 15.4 percent nationwide.
Students choosing to earn a degree in Vermont will find plenty of educational opportunities available. That includes not only on-campus learning, but distance learning in Vermont as well. The largest colleges and universities in Vermont in terms of population are the University of Vermont, Community College of Vermont, Norwich University, and Middlebury College. The Vermont State Colleges system also features five state schools that collaborate to offer exceptional learning opportunities in the state.
Several schools in the region offer flexible, online degrees to students in Vermont and beyond. Colleges and universities that have dived into the online learning space thus far include the University of Vermont, Champlain College, Vermont Law School, and the Community College of Vermont, among others.
Of course, Vermont is also known for its natural beauty. Approximately 75 percent of the state is covered in dense, lush forestland and scenic waterways. Furthermore, its array of small mountains and lakes makes the state a popular stop for ski enthusiasts and fisherman. In a state with so much forestland, it's not surprising that Vermont is a destination for hunters as well. Depending on the season, hunters flock to Vermont to seek out black bear, wild turkeys, moose, and deer.
Despite its many well-known qualities, there is more to Vermont than meets the eye. Here are some additional facts about the state that we bet you didn't know:
- Because a large percentage of Vermont residents live in communities with less than 2,500 people, Vermont is considered one of the most rural states in the nation.
- Got milk? Vermont dairy farms produce more than two billion pounds of the creamy beverage each year.
- Canada isn't the only place to get authentic maple syrup. Vermont is America's largest producer of maple syrup year after year.
- As the second smallest state in the nation, Vermont is only 160 miles long and 80 miles wide.
- Hate being bombarded with advertising? In the naturally beautiful state of Vermont, billboards are outlawed.
What Makes Vermont Ideal for Online Education?
Despite the fact that Vermont borders some densely-populated areas, the state itself is rather rural. In fact, the state's largest city, Burlington, only had 42,211 residents in 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Further, most of the state's institutions of higher education are clustered around its largest towns and urban areas -- Burlington, South Burlington, and Montpelier.
With many of Vermont's residents living in towns with less than 10,000 people, online education isn't just ideal; it's essential. Since most students cannot relocate for school easily, distance learning helps bridge the gap.
According to Donna Lubrano, Adjunct Faculty for the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University in Massachusetts, online degree programs in Vermont also make higher education more attainable for the state's working professionals. As Lubrano notes, New England is an especially competitive place for jobs and education, and most working adults cannot quit working to finish their degree or begin a new program.
""For those working professionals who want an advanced degree to further advance their career, online is the option,"" she says. ""It helps them stay competitive in the marketplace while helping them to move forward. Many travel for business, weather issues and travel time also play a significant role. The ease of taking an online course without sacrificing your work life is very important.""
And since the Northeast is a relatively expensive part of the country, students should know that online education can help mitigate some of the costs. While an online degree isn't necessarily ""cheaper,"" it can help students avoid many of the financial trappings that come with attending an on-campus school, such as commuting costs, room and board, and, according to Lubrano, opportunity costs.
""I think it operates on many levels in this regard,"" she adds. ""If we look at opportunity cost -- meaning time spent at work vs. in the classroom -- it helps save money by not sacrificing work/family time.""
However, Lubrano is quick to note that distance learning in Vermont isn't necessarily easier or less of a time commitment for students. ""It just has more flexibility since the work can be done on a non-traditional schedule,"" she says.
Top 10 Degrees in Vermont
With some careers in Vermont expected to see more growth and higher wages than others, choosing the right major could really pay off. Using data from the U.S. Department of Labor, we created this list of top degrees in Vermont based on earning potential and job growth:
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Vermont's businesses and industries will need more professionals who understand complex math in the coming years, leading to a 50 percent increase in the number of jobs available for mathematicians in Vermont from 2012 to 2022.
A degree in hospitality management is an excellent choice if you want to work as a meeting, convention, or event planner. Due to growing demand in the field, these professionals are expected to see a 29 percent surge in employment in Vermont through 2022. According to the BLS, meeting, convention, and event planners earned a mean annual wage of $45,620 in the state as of May 2014.
Because of the high demand and excellent wages in this field, a degree in marketing could be an especially good investment. As of 2014, market research analysts and marketing specialists in Vermont earned a mean annual wage of $56,370. And jobs for these workers are expected to increase by as much as 27 percent in the state between 2012 and 2022.
Occupational Therapy Assistant
As the field of health care continues to change, more and more patients and doctors are choosing noninvasive procedures and technologies to save money and cut down on recovery time. For that reason, the field of occupational therapy is booming, and occupational therapy assistants could see jobs in Vermont increase by as much as 26 percent through 2022. High wages also add to the allure of this field. As of 2014, occupational therapy assistants in the state earned a mean annual wage of $49,170.
Health Care Administration
Overall demand for health care is on the rise, and the need for skilled health care administrators is growing with it. That's especially true in Vermont, where employment of these professionals is expected to surge 21 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Actuaries work in a wide range of industries, analyzing the financial risk of different actions and events. Thanks to the demand in this field, job openings for actuaries are expected to increase 20 percent in Vermont through 2022. Meanwhile, the fact that actuaries in the state earned a mean annual wage of $111,600 in 2014 makes this degree a particularly smart investment.
A degree in business administration could lead to a fast-paced career as a budget or management analyst. Employment is expected to increase 20 percent in Vermont for both of these careers between 2012 and 2022. High wages also add to this potential value of this degree. As of 2014, management and budget analysts in Vermont earned mean annual wages of $84,910 and $61,320, respectively.
Respiratory Therapy Assistant
Earning a degree in this field can help you gain employment as an assistant in a licensed respiratory therapist's office. Jobs for these professionals are expected to surge by as much as 19 percent in Vermont between 2012 and 2022. The fact that respiratory therapy assistants in the state earned a mean annual salary of $50,730 in 2014 also helps with this major's popularity.
Considering the many ways we use technology in our everyday lives, it's no wonder that careers in this sector are booming. Some jobs for computer science majors may see more growth than others, however. For example, U.S. Department of Labor figures show that job openings for both computer systems analysts and software developers of applications could increase by as much as 18 percent in Vermont through 2022.
All over the country, the use of foreign languages is on the rise. Earning a degree in a foreign language is a great way to take advantage of that fact, and potentially begin a career as an interpreter or translator. Because of the demand in this field, jobs for these workers could increase by as much as 18 percent in Vermont through 2022.
Top Cities for Vermont College Students
With 42,211 residents in 2014, Burlington is Vermont's largest city, and a major hub for outdoor recreation, the arts, and cultural activity. Located on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, Burlington contains a large college-age population, a slew of historic and vibrant neighborhoods, and more than its share of beautiful churches.
Due to its proximity to several major highways, Burlington's economy relies heavily on trade and transportation. Other top industries include education, health care, utilities, and manufacturing.
Because Burlington is a college town, it also boasts high levels of educational attainment. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 47.2 percent of Burlington's adult population held a bachelor's degree in 2013. Prominent institutions of higher education in the area include:
Burlington College is a small, private liberal arts school with small class sizes and a passion for interdisciplinary education. Only 224 students were enrolled in 2014, which led to an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of just 6:1. For the 2014-15 academic year, tuition and fees averaged out to $23,581. Here are a few of the school's most popular programs:
- Bachelor of Arts in Expressive Arts
- Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production
- Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography
Although Champlain College is considered traditional for the region, their programs are as progressive as they are invigorating. Approximately 3,585 students attended the school in 2014, pursuing a wide range of career disciplines. In addition to its on-campus programming, Champlain College offers 50 online graduate and undergraduate degree programs geared towards working students. Tuition and fees averaged out to $33,000 for the 2014-15 academic year, and the school is known for these programs:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems
- Online Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
- Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigation
University of Vermont
As the state's flagship school, the University of Vermont offers 100 undergraduate majors, 50 master's degree programs, and 24 doctoral degree programs. Tuition worked out to approximately $16,226 for in-state students during the 2014-15 academic year, and 12,856 students were enrolled at last count. A few of their most popular degree programs include:
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
The county seat of Rutland County and the third-largest city in Vermont, Rutland was home to a population of 15,942 in 2014. Top industries in the area include health care, manufacturing, and utilities, and the city's top employer is the Rutland Regional Medical Center.
Low housing costs have helped the Rutland area attract a younger population over time. As the U.S. Census Bureau notes, the median housing value in the area was $158,800 through 2013.
Approximately 25.8 percent of Rutland adults possessed a bachelor's degree in 2013, while 88.3 percent had at least a high school diploma. The city contains one major institution of higher education:
College of St. Joseph
As a small, private Catholic school, the College of St. Joseph enrolled only 332 students in 2014. Currently, the college offers more than 30 academic majors in the arts and sciences, business, criminal justice, and education. Tuition and fees averaged out to $21,200 for the 2014-15 academic year. The College of St. Joseph is known for the following programs:
- Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Studies
- Master of Business Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
As the capital of Vermont, Montpelier boasts the majority of the state's government buildings and headquarters. The city is known for its highly educated population, its accessibility, and its many museums and performing arts centers including the Vermont History Museum, the Montpelier Theatre Guild, and the Lost Nation Theater.
Approximately 7,671 people called Montpelier home in 2014. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 52 percent of Montpelier adults ages 25 and older held a bachelor's degree that year, and 94.4 percent had their high school diploma. Two prominent institutions of higher education can be found in the area:
New England Culinary Institute
The New England Culinary Institute is famous for its dedication to worldly cooking and baking programs that churn out top chefs and culinary masters year after year. Roughly 422 students were enrolled in 2014, and tuition and fees came out to $88,550 for the 2014-15 academic year. Top programs include:
- Bachelor of Arts in Food and Beverage Business Management
- Online Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts
- Certificate in Professional Baking & Pastry
Vermont College of Fine Arts
The Vermont College of Fine Arts is the premier fine arts institution in the area. Enrollment included 369 students in 2014, and tuition was $20,544 for the 2014-15 academic year. As a graduate school, VCFA only offers graduate degree programs. Here are a few of their most popular:
- Master of Fine Arts in Writing
- Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design
- Master of Fine Arts in Film
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students considering traditional or online degrees in Vermont may be eligible for various types of financial aid or tuition assistance. Included on that list is federal aid, which can come in the form of Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, Pell Grants, and more. There are a number of additional financial aid programs unique to Vermont as well, and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) lists information about each opportunity on their website. Potential state-based aid options for Vermont residents include:
- Vermont Incentive Grants
- Vermont Part-Time Grants
- Vermont Non-Degree Grants
The VSAC also lists over 140 scholarships available specifically for Vermont residents for the 2016-17 school year, with detailed information on each.
Now-and-future Vermont college students can learn more about their financial aid options by visiting the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, or making an appointment at their school's financial aid office. Most of the time, students can begin the process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, online. While long and somewhat cumbersome, this form helps state and federal agencies determine what type of aid a student may be eligible for.
A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, Lumina Foundation, Vermont, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#vermont
City of Burlington, Vermont Official Website, https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/
City of Montpelier, Vermont Official Website, http://www.montpelier-vt.org/
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Vermont, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_vt.htm
Pay for College, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, http://services.vsac.org/wps/wcm/connect/vsac/vsac/pay+for+college
Scholarships for Vermonters, VSAC, http://services.vsac.org/wps/wcm/connect/7789b000490fb7b0b2a6b7b046e40941/Scholarships_Booklet.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Burlington, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50/5010675.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Montpelier, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50/5046000.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Rutland, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50/5061225.html
State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, Vermont, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50000.html
Vermont Department of Labor 2012 - 2022 Long Term Occupational Projections, Vermont Department of Labor, http://www.vtlmi.info/projlt.pdf
Vermont Facts, Vermont Chamber of Commerce, http://www.visitvt.com/about_vermont/vermont_facts.aspx
Vermont State Colleges, http://www.vsc.edu/Pages/default.aspx