Employment in South Dakota
South Dakotans with college degrees benefit from the state's low unemployment rate and cost of living. Compared to the national average cost of living index, which is set at 100, South Dakota's cost of living index is only 88.3. Similarly, South Dakota's 2.9% unemployment rate is much lower than the 6.2% national unemployment rate, as of February 2021.
South Dakota's top industries include healthcare, manufacturing, educational services, and public administration. Bioscience, value-added agriculture, and cybersecurity are also key industries in the state. Many careers in these fields require a bachelor-level education, though fewer than 29% of South Dakota residents hold a bachelor's degree. As a result, professionals with college degrees face less competition in South Dakota than they would in more highly educated states.
The state's highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs, including financial manager, industrial engineer, and operations manager, all typically require a bachelor's degree. Many of these careers pay more than double the state's mean annual wage of $44,960.
The following information details some of the highest-paying roles employing more than 500 individuals in South Dakota. Salary information applies specifically to South Dakota, while job growth data pertains to the entire United States.
Highest-Paying, Degree-Requiring Careers in South Dakota
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
||Annual Mean Salary (2020)
||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)
|General and Operations Managers
|Medical and Health Services Managers
|First-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales Workers
Online Associate Degrees in South Dakota
In addition to bachelor's degrees, South Dakotans can earn online associate degrees in business, agricultural science, and general studies.
South Dakota State University (SDSU) offers online associate programs in subjects like sociology, construction technology, and data science. Dakota State University (DSU) has an online associate in business management program. The online associate degree in general studies at the University of South Dakota (USD) prepares graduates to enroll in bachelor's programs.
After completing an associate degree, graduates can enter the workforce or transfer into bachelor's programs. With transfer credits, students can earn their bachelor's degrees in as little as one year.
Online Graduate Degrees in South Dakota
Many top-ranked universities in South Dakota offer online graduate degrees, too. For example, USD offers an online MBA program with concentrations in business analytics, finance, health services administration, and marketing. Graduate students can also earn master's degrees in criminal justice administration, social work, or nursing at USD.
Online graduate programs prioritize flexible scheduling, which appeals to working professionals who must balance school with professional responsibilities. Online programs also typically allow students to complete in-person requirements in their local areas. With a graduate degree, professionals can advance their current careers or move into new fields.