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15 Degrees That Are Perfect for Becoming Your Own Boss

Do you dream of being your own boss? Whether you want to work solo and make your own hours and business decisions or build a company from the ground up, you’re probably considering self-employment.

Some careers are friendlier to that entrepreneurial spirit than others. If the opportunity to eventually run your own business is important to you, then you need to start your career with the right education. The following 15 degrees can prepare you for the kind of jobs where workers are most likely to be self-employed.

1. Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture

Agriculture Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

A college degree in agriculture, agricultural business or agricultural sciences prepares students for success in the world of farm management. Most agriculture and related degree programs combine studies in business and science with a focus on framing. Coursework in farm management, agricultural economics, sustainable farming practices, plant breeding, dairy science and animal science is common, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Graduates of agriculture degrees will understand the process of running a farm or a group of farms as a business, from its financial operations to its marketing strategies. They develop familiarity with the laws and policies that govern farming. Some agriculture degree programs include opportunities to gain hands-on experience managing college-run farms and selling the produce. Some programs include a special focus on sustainability in farming. Agriculture degree programs are available at both the associate’s and bachelor’s level and are offered both on campus and online.

An agriculture degree is excellent preparation for a job as an agricultural manager. These professionals oversee the daily operations of farms, ranches and greenhouses. The vast majority of agricultural managers – 70 percent – are their own bosses. In fact, agriculture degree programs often offer required or elective courses in farming entrepreneurship. As bosses, agricultural managers make the decisions about what the farm produces, how it is run and where and for how much to sell the product. While a college degree isn’t an absolute requirement for this job – which often starts with professional experience as a farm worker – an education is becoming increasingly important, the BLS reported. Both efficient farming and effective business management has become more complicated, resulting in the need to know more about both subjects than what can be easily taught on-the-job. Some agricultural managers seek the Accredited Farm Manager certification from the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers to demonstrate their knowledge.

Most Likely Job Title: Agricultural Manager

Salary: $64,170

Self-employment by the numbers: 70 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Sustainable Farming 

2. Bachelor’s Degree in Art

Art Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

When you earn a college degree in art, you take foundational through advanced courses in studio art of various kinds. Coursework often includes study in creating art through drawing, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, painting, photography, sculpting, printmaking and digital design. Creating an extensive portfolio of your work is integral to success in an art degree program as well as your professional life after college, the BLS reported. A strong portfolio contains a collection of the artist’s best work, but it must have pieces that are distinct enough to show the breadth and depth of the artist’s skills and styles. In addition to taking a multitude of art and design classes, students take core general education courses required for graduation. Undergraduate studio art degrees can be categorized as either Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees or Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degrees. Some art students choose to go on to graduate school and pursue a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree.

What can you do with an art degree? You can work for yourself – and still make a decent living doing so. Two of the most entrepreneurial and profitable art jobs are art director and multimedia artist and animator. Half of all art directors and more than half of all animators are self-employed. Some work from home, but many work in the offices of motion picture production companies, advertising agencies, publishing companies and design services companies. Art directors, who earn higher salaries, develop the big-picture design and style of the visual elements used in film, magazines, newspapers and advertising campaigns. They oversee the artists who create those images and visual elements. Multimedia artists and animators, on the other hand, create effects, models and animations used in movies, television shows and video games. Animators work on a project from the storyboard phase to the finished sequences of animation and computer generated images.

Most Likely Job Title: Multimedia Artist, Animator or Art Director

Salary: $63,970 – $89,760

Self-employment by the numbers: 50 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Computer Graphics, Graphic Design 

3. Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science

Mortuary Science Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Jeremy Thompson, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license.

Degree programs in mortuary science cover the technical skills needed to prepare bodies for memorial services and burials, including restorative techniques and embalming. They also include coursework in the laws and ethics of the funeral services business as well as grief counseling strategies to help funeral service workers in their interactions with bereaved family members. Mortuary science degree programs are available on campus at junior colleges as well as online. Many mortuary science degree programs require students to complete a one-year internship or mandatory clinic embalming assignments in order to gain hands-on work experience as well as prepare for common state licensing requirements. More than 50 mortuary science degree programs are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education, which is important because a degree from an accredited program is required for licensure in most states. Associate’s degrees in mortuary science are more common, but bachelor’s degree programs in the subject are also available, the BLS reported.

A mortuary science degree is a good choice for those who aspire to be their own bosses because half of the 60,400 funeral workers in the United States are self-employed, according to the BLS. They may run the business in its entirety, managing the day-to-day operations of the funeral home and handling business decisions like financial planning and staff recruitment and training. They also do the work of meeting with families to plan the memorial service and the burial or cremation, filing legal documents such as death certificates, embalming or otherwise preparing the body of the deceased and writing obituaries. Since funeral service workers are often on call in the evenings and on weekends and must be able to make preparations quickly following a death, being your own boss is beneficial in this industry because it allows for a flexible work schedule to accommodate the needs of the business and its clients.

Most Likely Job Title: Funeral Service Manager or Funeral Director

Salary: $53,390

Self-employment by the numbers: 50 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Funeral Service 

4. Exercise Physiology

Exercise physiology degree

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If you pursue a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, you’ll take a variety of classes in science and health subjects, including anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, statistics, biomechanics, nutrition and kinesiology. Specific courses in subjects such as introductory exercise physiology, sports injury management, exercise pathophysiology, sports epidemiology and principles of strength and conditioning are common, as well. Programs that have earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs often include required clinical hours in a setting such as a cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation facility. A number of schools offer master’s and even Ph.D. programs in exercise physiology and related studies. While most states don’t currently require exercise physiologists to be licensed, a number of states are considering implementing licensing requirements, the BLS reported. However, graduates from exercise physiology degree programs can seek the Exercise Physiologist Certified certification from the American Society of Exercise Physiologists or the Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist or Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist credentials from the American College of Sports Medicine.

Given that around half of all exercise physiologists working in the United States are self-employed, a degree in exercise physiology is a great choice for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, a knack for science and a passion for fitness. The reason exercise physiologists need such a strong background in science and health subjects is that their job responsibilities differ significantly from that of a fitness instructor or athletic trainer. Exercise physiologists are part of the healthcare industry. Doctors often refer patients who have chronic medical conditions to exercise physiologists for the purpose of developing a fitness routine that will help them improve their overall health and work toward recovery. To accomplish this work, an exercise physiologist must understand the patient’s medical history and use medical equipment to conduct tests, check vital signs and develop an exercise plan that works with the patient’s limitations and achieves the necessary health goals, like increasing cardiovascular function.

Most Likely Job Title: Exercise Physiologist

Salary: $47,010

Self-employment by the numbers: 50 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Kinesiology, Exercise Science 

5. Music

Music Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

Degree programs in music can take a number of forms. There are programs in music theory, music composition, music performance and music conducting. Programs exist at the undergraduate and graduate levels. A degree program in music theory encompasses music analysis and research as well as hands-on training in music skills. Composition degree programs include music training and studies in the elements of music and composition techniques with the goal of preparing students to create original music of their own. Degrees in applied music or music performance focus on cultivating a professional level of performance skills in one or more musical instruments. Orchestral conducting degree programs, which are often master’s degree programs, tend to involve a lot of study of musical scores, private lessons in leadership and rehearsal techniques and hands-on experience conducting actual professional choirs and orchestras. Music programs at the college – and especially the graduate – level can be very selective, particularly since these degree programs often include some form of private music lessons.

A degree in music isn’t necessary for all music careers. You don’t need a piece of paper to write a popular hit song or start a band that does local gigs. However, you do need more than a good ear. Professionals who work in the music field need training – like the hands-on music training offered in music degree programs – to learn to play their instruments well. A solid understanding of music theory and the elements of good music composition, whether gained through formal or informal education, is also essential for success at writing original songs. While two out of every five musicians, singers, composers and music directors work for themselves, having a music degree is often essential to get respected and well-paying work in music. For example, musicians who perform classical pieces, sing opera or direct a choir typically need a bachelor’s degree in music, while orchestral conductors often need a master’s degree, the BLS reported.

Most Likely Job Title: Music Director, Musician

Salary: $49,820

Self-employment by the numbers: 40 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Dance, Theatre 

6. Doctoral Degree in Psychology

Psychology Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

There are different kinds of psychology degrees that can prepare candidates for different roles. Most psychologists need a doctorate, which typically requires five to seven years of study, to officially use the title “psychologist,” the BLS reported. A Ph.D. in psychology, which is the traditional doctoral degree in the field, focuses heavily on research and studies in experimental procedures and statistics. Students must design the procedures for and conduct their own original psychological research and then present those findings in a written doctoral dissertation. On the other hand, students who want to focus on working with patients in clinical settings may prefer to pursue a Psy.D., a professional program that focuses more on experience through practical work and exams and a yearlong internship. Some professionals in the field of psychology instead pursue a master’s degree, which can often be completed in just two years and typically focuses on clinical psychology, counseling psychology or industrial/organizational psychology.

About one-third of the 173,900 psychologists in the United States are self-employed, the BLS reported. Psychologists who run their own practices manage the business aspects of the practice as well as the clinical or counseling work. They may handle administrative tasks like handling billing procedures, insurance company paperwork and appointment scheduling themselves or delegate those tasks to the employees they hire and train. Besides being the boss, self-employed psychologists are responsible for working with patients. Clinical psychologists do the work of diagnosing and treating the mental and emotional health conditions of their patients. Counseling psychologists use the counseling strategies they have cultivated in school and through work experience to help patients cope with and work through problems in their life and relationships. Since psychology professionals without a doctoral degree typically must work under the guidance of licensed psychologists, those with a Psy.D. and a focus on clinical or counseling psychology are most likely to become their own bosses.

Most Likely Job Title: Psychologist

Salary: $72,580

Self-employment by the numbers: 33 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy 

7. Doctor of Chiropractic

Doctor of Chiropractor Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Michael Dorausch, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license.

A Doctor of Chiropractic, or D.C., degree is what trains chiropractors in the art of spinal adjustment and manipulation for health benefits. Earning a D.C. usually takes students four years of full-time study. A D.C. is both a professional and postgraduate degree program, the BLS reported. As a professional degree, it prepares students for practical application of chiropractic techniques in a healthcare setting.  You might be surprised to learn that, even though it’s a postgraduate degree program, you don’t necessarily have to have a bachelor’s degree to earn your Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Applicants to D.C. programs need just 90 semester hours, or three years of full-time study, at the undergraduate level to apply. However, many chiropractors do complete their bachelor’s degrees before they begin their chiropractic studies. While there’s no specific major students should pursue to prepare for a D.C. program, studying biology, physics, chemistry and the liberal arts can be helpful. The relatively few Doctor of Chiropractic degree programs that have earned accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education include coursework in biology, anatomy and physiology as well as clinical training in diagnosing and assessing spinal problems and using spinal adjustment techniques.

One out of every three chiropractors is self-employed, the BLS reported. There are definitely benefits to running your own private chiropractic practice. Many chiropractors offer flexible appointment schedules, including evening and weekend appointments, for the convenience of their patients. A self-employed chiropractor can set his or her own hours and determine what days and times the practice should be open. Chiropractors who are their own bosses can also decide if they want to offer additional services, like rehabilitative exercise and massage therapy, and if they want to sell health and wellness products, like sports braces, in their practice. They must also be able to hire, train and oversee the staff working in their office. In order to prepare students for the challenges of running a practice as well as providing chiropractic services, some Doctor of Chiropractic degree programs incorporate coursework in business, particularly in management, finance and billing practices, in addition to traditional chiropractic subjects of study.

Most Likely Job Title: Chiropractor

Salary: $64,440

Self-employment by the numbers: 33 percent

8. Hospitality

Hospitality Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

Hospitality management is a great field to go into if you want to work in tourism and develop your leadership skills. A hospitality degree program will often combine coursework from a number of disciplines, ranging from business management to laws and ethics and even food safety and nutrition. However, you can’t learn everything there is to know about tourism management from a book or a lecture in the classroom. Because many of the skills needed for success in the tourism industry – and in business management – are practical skills, most hospitality degree programs include hands-on training. Some programs require students to complete internships at hotels, restaurants and tourism destinations. Others run their own on-campus or off-campus lodging and dining establishments, where students can gain hands-on experience in every role of hospitality management. Depending on the school you choose to attend, your hospitality degree program could be part of a business college, human services department, agriculture and life sciences school or even its own distinct department or division.

A hospitality degree can prepare you for a variety of different jobs in the tourism industry, but two of the most common hospitality occupations are also among the most likely to be their own boss. Lodging managers are the professionals who oversee the operations of hotels and resorts. Food service managers run the business sides of restaurants, cafes, and other eating establishments. In both of these vocations, one in three professionals is self-employed, the BLS reported. While a college degree isn’t necessary to work in food service or in a hotel, the business and management skills you learn in a hospitality degree program are invaluable. When you run your own hotel or restaurant, in particular, it’s essential that you know how to make sound financial decisions, keep accurate financial records and manage staff, customer expectations and business logistics. You must also understand the importance of all of the roles involved in the day-to-day operations of a restaurant and hotel – a kind of familiarity you won’t develop just by working as a host, wait staff or concierge.

Most Likely Job Title: Lodging Manager or Food Service Manager

Salary: $48,690 – $49,720

Self-employment by the numbers: 33 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Hotel Management or Food Service Management

9. Film

Film Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

In a good film and media arts degree program, your coursework will prepare you for a career in the entertainment industry. Coursework often includes studies in subjects such as introduction to film studies, film history, screenwriting, film theory, television, new media, cinematography and video editing software. Some degree programs or concentrations within those programs focus more heavily on cultural topics, like how race and gender are depicted in film, while others emphasize stylistic techniques in film or storytelling through screenwriting. It’s not unusual for a film degree program to incorporate coursework that covers the theoretical foundations and practical applications involved in every part of the filmmaking process, from writing the script to doing makeup and wardrobe and from decorating the set to directing the action on stage or before the camera. Many schools provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills through real experience – as well as their professional portfolios – while working on campus television stations or short film projects and challenges.

A film degree is an excellent starting place if you want to become a director or work as a film and video editor or camera operator. Film editors and camera operators are more likely than directors and producers to become their own bosses. About 30 percent of film and video editors are self-employed, the BLS reported, compared to just 20 percent of directors. Directors and camera operators and video editors work in the film and entertainment industry, but each serves a different role. Directors determine the creative choices that go into producing a motion picture or television show, overseeing the actors and personalities who appear in front of the camera as well as the behind-the-scenes work that goes into bringing the script to life. As the job title implies, camera operators and video editors do the work of actually recording the stories being told in the film and skillfully editing shots and sequences to tell that story in a meaningful way.

Most Likely Job Title: Film and Video Editors and Camera Operator, Director

Salary: $55,740 — $68,440

Self-employment by the numbers: 20 to 30 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Broadcasting, Acting, Journalism, Communications 

10. Dental School Degree

 Dental School Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

Completing dental school results in the award of one of three possible degrees: the Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), the Doctor of Medical Dentistry (D.M.D.) or the Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.D.M.). Whether you choose a D.D.S., D.M.D. or D.D.M. degree program, dental school requires a solid background in the sciences, including undergraduate coursework in chemistry and biology. A competitive score on the Dental Admission Test (DAT) is often necessary to gain acceptance into a program accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation. Once admitted, students learn about anatomy, radiology, use of local anesthesia for dental procedures and periodontics, the study of oral health and diseases, the BLS reported. Learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom. Dental school students attain clinical experience by diagnosing and treating real patients under the guidance of experienced dentists. After earning their dental school degrees, aspiring dentists must attain a license to practice in their state. Those who wish to specialize must also spend two to four years completing a residency in their intended dental specialty.

One in four dentists – more than 37,800 total – run their own private dental practice, the BLS reported. Some self-employed dentists work alone in their solo practices. Others hire reception staff and dental hygienists to assist with administrative duties and patient care. Still others manage group practices, where they work with partner and associate dentists. A dentist who is self-employed makes the big-picture business decisions. He or she may handle overseeing the day-to-day operations of the practice personally, or may delegate administrative, billing, bookkeeping and staff recruitment and training tasks to an office manager. While the dentist’s primary responsibility is caring for patients’ oral health by fixing and removing damaged teeth and using imaging equipment to check for problems, you can’t ignore the administrative duties when you are the one in charge of keeping the business running smoothly. Opportunities for dentists – and for opening your own dental practice – are increasing rapidly. The BLS expects career opportunities for dentists to increase by 18 percent over a decade, compared just 7 percent job growth expected across all occupations.

Most Likely Job Title: Dentist

Salary: $158,310

Self-employment by the numbers: 25 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: M.D. in Oral Surgery 

11. Interior Design

Interior Design Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

A degree program in interior design will teach you the fundamentals of developing indoor spaces that are both aesthetically appealing and functional. Most college degree programs in interior design include coursework in drawing and computer-aided design as well as the theories and applications of interior design principles. For example, interior design students may take courses in lighting and textiles to learn about the materials and light fixtures they can choose from when designing a space as well as classes in residential and commercial design practices. They learn to create two-dimensional designs on paper and three-dimensional digital models of their design ideas. As with other fields of study, whether a degree program has earned accreditation from a reputable agency can speak to the quality of the program. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the National Kitchen & Bath Association are all agencies that accredit interior design degree programs, the BLS reported.

One-quarter of all interior designers in the United States are self-employed, according to the BLS. Perhaps that’s because several aspects of the career lend themselves to the flexibility of being your own boss. For one thing, interior designers often work non-standard hours, like evenings and weekends, for the convenience of clients who may have a more rigid work schedule. They also need to travel to the space they are designing to understand the location and its advantages and limitations. Interior designers’ success has a great deal to do with the quality of their people skills and design work, so skilled interior designers are often able to make a living working for themselves. As in other art and design careers, interior designers need to show their skills to get paying work – and that means compiling a portfolio of their most impressive designs. Of course, self-employed interior designers still need to handle the management and administrative tasks of keeping their business running.

Most Likely Job Title: Interior Designer

Salary: $48,840

Self-employment by the numbers: 25 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Industrial Design 

12. Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Master of Business Administration Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

A Master of Business Administration degree program typically includes graduate-level courses in a variety of business subjects, including accounting, business law, economics, finance, international business, management and marketing. Often, an MBA degree program will provide students with the chance to specialize in an academic track or concentration that’s of interest of to them in addition to taking core general business courses. MBA programs may combine studies of business theory with practical problem-solving skills developed both in business scenarios explored in the classroom and through hands-on internship experiences. While two years is the typical length of time to complete a full-time MBA degree program, some schools offer accelerated one-year programs, while others offer part-time study options that allow working students to learn at their own pace without leaving the workforce. In addition to traditional MBA programs where classes take place on campus, online MBA programs have become popular among busy students juggling family and work responsibilities.

Of course, studying business management is an excellent idea if you’re going to run a business of your own. Such a degree program can teach you important skills, like how to manage your company’s finances, use sound accounting processes to keep accurate financial records, publicize your business to draw in new clients and handle the complicated logistics of coordinating work schedules and supply delivery. However, an MBA degree is particularly valuable for students who aspire to be self-employed because it can also prepare you for profitable business careers that lend themselves to entrepreneurship, like management consultant and management analyst. These professionals use their extensive knowledge of effective business practices to help companies improve efficiency, decreasing wasted time and money and increasing profits. One in five management consultants works for themselves, the BLS reported. They set their own hours and spend much of their worktime with clients at the sites of the businesses they are trying to improve.

Most Likely Job Title: Management Consultant, Management Analyst

Salary: $81,320

Self-employment by the numbers: 20 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Bachelor’s Degree in Business 

13. Bachelor of Architecture

Bachelor of Architecture Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

In the United States, top Bachelor of Architecture degree programs are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. In dozens of states, having earned your degree from an accredited program is a requirement for obtaining an architecture license after graduation. Undergraduate architecture programs blend studies from a variety of subjects. When earning a Bachelor of Architecture, you can expect to study everything from the liberal arts to the physical sciences, from math to design. Of course, aspiring architects also study more specialized subjects, like construction methods, building structures, foundational theories of architecture, building design, architectural history and the use of computer-aided design software. While what you learn in the classroom is important, much of an architecture student’s development occurs in the design studio, as students develop their own building designs through sketches and three-dimensional models. Unlike most bachelor’s degree programs, a Bachelor of Architecture degree is designed to take five years of full-time study.

Of the 112,600 architects who are working across the United States, 20 percent happen to be their own bosses, the BLS reported. A benefit to entrepreneurship is that self-employed architects get to set their own schedules, which is a substantial advantage in an occupation that often includes tight deadlines and long hours. They may also choose to work from a home office, cutting out the daily commute and making it easier to work odd hours when necessary. Architects already need to be able to balance multiple job duties, such as interacting with clients, creating functional and visually appealing designs, collaborating with other professionals involved in the project and traveling to construction sites to assess the work being done. Those who are also running their own company must expand these existing multitasking and time-management skills to make sure that both the big-picture business decisions and the company’s daily operations are going smoothly.

Most Likely Job Title: Architect

Salary: $76,100

Self-employment by the numbers: 20 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Landscape Architecture, Engineering

14. Graphic Design

Graphic Design Degree

IMAGE SOURCE: Rkinfoindia, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons license.

In an undergraduate degree program in graphic design, students take a variety of basic art and design courses. Common coursework ranges from design principles to printing techniques and studio art to computerized design, the BLS reported. Due to the importance and prevalence of computer graphics and design layout software systems, many graphic design programs involve courses that make use of these technologies. Coursework in color theory, typography, digital layouts and web design are also popular. Graphic design students often complete courses to develop their business knowledge, marketing skills and writing abilities, as well. For many graphic design students, cultivating a portfolio of professional-quality designs is nearly as important as the principles and practices they learn in the classroom. The portfolio is what will convey the student’s skills and artistic style to potential employers and clients after graduation. Graphic design degrees are offered at associate’s and bachelor’s degree levels, both on campus and in distance learning formats.

One in five graphic designers is self-employed, the BLS reported. Graphic design and entrepreneurship often go well together. Graphic designers develop the visual elements of publications, advertisements and product packaging. They create the art that conveys meanings and the layouts that organize the visual elements on the page. While some graphic designers are part of a team at a publishing company, advertising firm or design agency, it’s not unusual for a graphic designer to work alone. Graphic designers do, however, meet with clients directly to discuss new projects and the progress of ongoing projects. Being self-employed is an asset in these instances, because the graphic designer is free to alter his or her work schedule as necessary to fit in meetings with clients. Graphic designers who run their own firm often devote at least some time to finding new business by searching for and applying for new jobs, presenting their skills and ideas to potential clients and bidding on contracts for paid work.

Most Likely Job Title: Graphic Designer

Salary: $46,900

Self-employment by the numbers: 20 percent

Alternative Degree Paths: Art 

15. Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarian

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain.

Earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree isn’t an easy task. To even be admitted to one of these competitive doctoral degree programs, you will most likely need an undergraduate education with a background in science courses such as anatomy, animal science, biology, chemistry, microbiology, physiology and zoology. In a degree program that has earned accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education, you will spend four years on your veterinary studies. For the first three years, your learning will take place in the classroom, in the lab and in clinical settings. During the fourth and final year of veterinary school, you will gain hands-on experience as you perform clinical rotations at a veterinary hospital, the BLS reported. Students in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program learn about that anatomy and physiology of various kinds of animals. They receive the training needed to prevent diseases and diagnose and treat medical conditions in pets, livestock and other types of animals.

About one in six veterinarians chooses to become their own boss, according to the BLS. Like doctors who work with human patients, self-employed veterinarians often run private solo practices. Some open group practices where they work with partner veterinarians or hire associate dentists. Self-employed veterinarians may set their own hours, often including occasional weeknight or evening appointments for the convenience of the human owners of their animal patients. Some veterinarians, particularly those who work with farm animals rather than exclusively with companion animals, may have to travel to owners’ homes or workplaces to care for animals that can’t be easily transported, like horses, or with groups of animals, like a brood of chickens. Though rewarding, the work of a veterinarian can be demanding and even hazardous. Sick and injured animals might not react tolerantly to being examined, while interacting with distressed pet owners can be emotionally draining. However, candidates who have an entrepreneurial spirit as well as a love for animals can make the most of a career as a self-employed veterinarian.

Most Likely Job Title: Veterinarian

Salary: $88,490

Self-employment by the numbers: 17 percent

Editor’s Note: Of course, no degree or occupation guarantees success in entrepreneurship. However, the degrees and careers listed above are associated with high self-employment rates. Being your own boss can be both challenging and rewarding. For more information on any of the occupations listed in this article, visit the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which was the source for salary, career outlook, education and self-employment data. You can also learn more about entrepreneurship from the BLS Career Outlook article Self-Employment: What to know to be your own boss.

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