Most Useful College Majors
Posted by Katie Ostoich on May 22, 2012 at 12:47 PM
A few weeks ago, we highlighted a list from Newsweek of the least useful college majors. As someone who has one of the degrees highlighted, it made me laugh a little. But it also made me wonder what the “experts” say are the most useful because if you're thinking about going back to school, I’m guessing that choosing a degree that's attractive to employers is a priority.
Am I right? Of course I am. If not, everyone would major in things like TV watching, shopping, and Angry Birds. But what degrees could lead to solid job prospects?
Here’s what I found (in no particular order):
Degree #1 - Health Care Administration
Want to earn a degree that will be in-demand with employers? Look into health care administration.
According to a Georgetown report called "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal," the unemployment rate for experienced grads in this field was just 2.9 percent between 2009 and 2010. This figure is impressively low when compared to the March national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.
Degree #2 - Criminal Justice
When playing cops and robbers as a kid, were you always the cop? Well, if you want to earn a degree that employers are after, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice may be for you.
Until crime slows down, it's likely that the demand for public safety will lead to new openings for officers in local departments, notes the U.S Department of Labor. And while a degree is not always required to pursue a career as a police officer, many agencies do require some college work or a degree. Also: Because many of the crimes these days are things like identity theft, or data theft from a company, it requires a more educated workforce. The field is changing with the times.
Degree #3 – Accounting
Another degree to consider if you've got your eye on employment: a bachelor's degree in accounting. According to the Georgetown report, the unemployment rate for recent grads was just 4.8 percent, while experienced grads had an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent - still well below the national average.
An increased focus on accounting because of the scandals and crises, says the U.S. Department of Labor, will lead to a demand for accountants. That's good news for those thinking about going back to school for a bachelor's degree in accounting.
Degree #4 - Marketing and Communications
Are you a social [media] butterfly who's looking for a degree that could get employers' attention? You might want to think about earning a degree in marketing and communications.
Things like social media is what companies want knowledge in. It's the fastest growing part of marketing and people with knowledge about social media will be in great demand. Also, market researchers, many of whom have a bachelor's degree in market research and communications, will also be in demand.
Degree #5 - Information Technology (IT) or Computer Science
When a tech company like Apple is the most valuable company in the world, it probably comes to no surprise that an information technology degree is hot among employers.
How hot? According to the Georgetown report, experienced IT grads had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, while recent grads had a less welcoming 11.4 percent unemployment rate.
And this segment of the economy is going to continue to boom. IT grads who keep up with trends - like mobile communications, tabs and smartphone apps, and cloud computing - could enjoy low unemployment for a very long time.
Degree #6 – English
Having a degree in any kind of artistic or expressive field is the least likely degree to land you a job straight out of college (hence the common necessity for grad school). But of all degrees in the arts (art, film, music, etc.), an English degree is the most likely to get you a job in a company you didn’t create yourself on Ebay or Youtube.
Being the most literate art, there is demand for individuals who can communicate clearly on paper and there are myriad fields within communication that cherish such a skill (after all, not every skilled person can write well). A few examples are: public relations, journalism, advertising, and a variety of other positions that call for clarity of voice and powerful resonance.
Degree #7 – Engineering
If you’re into science and math, engineering is your field, girl. The engineering and engineering technology disciplines move scientific discoveries and advances from theory into the buildings, infrastructure and myriad products of our world.
From aerospace engineering to work in the biomedical, chemical, materials and electrical spaces, there are enough options to interest anyone. For the holy grail this degree equates to (especially for women who are a minority in this field), a handsome paycheck is a given.
Degree #8 – Education
This is a little controversial as I know it’s tough for teachers out there when schools’ budgets are being slashed (thus slashing jobs). But the world will always need teachers. And there is some stability in teaching: Most schools offer help in earning further education and will give you tenure once you’ve been in the school for a period of time.
Degree #9 – Law
The legal industry is one of the most prosperous in the country; think of how many cases are heard in court, how much golden-briefcased firms and practices appear on TV.
While noble in some regards- defending the little guy via the advantage of a superior grasp on the law- it can also be a slimy, corrupt industry that thrives on loopholes and well-choreographed lies. Whatever the path, it is a moral endeavor as much as it is a lucrative one; if you can’t find a position at an existing firm or practice, there’s always the possibility of opening your own. Whatever your oddly-specific speciality (e.g. asbestos, injury claims, media, etc.), there is always a niche, and the pertinent legal fees to accompany.
Degree #10 – Psychology
Psychology is both the most and least useful degree there is. It is usually the fallback degree for those “undecided” individuals who go to college to figure out what they want to do for a living.
For those who very purposefully pursue a degree in psychology, however, there are limitless possibilities for what they can do with that degree: social work, research studies, psychiatry/psychoanalysis. All are very useful occupations, ones that many people rely on, on weekly basis -- but please, don’t tote the degree around as an excuse for condescension and casual psychoanalysis (expect many failed relationships to follow).
Well, there you have it. Do you agree? Disagree? Still struggling to find a job even with one of these degrees? Share your story in the comments!