Giving Some Thought to College Majors: In-demand Careers

Come May 1, students will be deciding which college they plan to attend in the fall. In this essay, KWHS guest columnist Casey Slide, who has a background in industrial engineering and writes about money management, careers and education on Money Crashers Personal Finance, discusses in-demand career fields and their related college majors. Read More

by Diana Drake

Megan Wilkes, 18, has a passion for zoology. But zoology majors, along with those who major in philosophy, art history, humanities and anthropology, are among the least likely to find jobs upon graduation. Not surprisingly, Megan isn’t confident she can find employment as a zoologist, and instead plans to major in education in order to teach high school biology.

But even if Wilkes majors in education, her prospects aren’t secure. A recent MSNBC survey shows that 53% of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed. When you consider that most graduates carry about $26,000 in student loan debt, many college graduates find themselves not pursuing their passions and unable to pay back their student loans.

For these reasons, it is more important than ever to be smart about choosing a major. According to Career Explorer, and other sources, students are landing jobs and receiving competitive wages in a few disciplines.

Medical Field Careers

The baby boomers are aging, which means their collective health care needs are on the rise. In fact, the number of health care jobs is expected to grow by 22% from 2008 to 2018, creating 3.2 million new jobs. Furthermore, due to the broad nature of the medical field, you should have no problems changing career paths. Here are a few of the hot medical careers:

  • Registered Nurse  As a registered nurse, you can focus on a range of specialties: pediatrics, intensive care or emergency services, to name a few. And while traditional nursing is viewed as hospital work, registered nurses also work in physicians’ offices, outpatient clinics, patients’ homes and even from their own home doing telephonic nursing. To become a registered nurse requires a four-year degree in nursing and a passing score on a licensing test. Registered nurses have a starting salary of $53,000.
  •  Physician Assistant  More and more, people are becoming physician assistants instead of actual physicians, which is appropriate since the number of physician assistant jobs is expected to grow by 39% in the next 10 years. Physician assistants practice medicine under the direction of a physician and can do many of the same tasks as physicians. While physician assistants make less money than physicians — about $89,000 a year with a starting salary of $77,000 — they typically work fewer and better hours, and only need two years of graduate school in a physician assistant program.
  • Nurse Anesthetist  A nurse anesthetist, also known as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), assists the anesthesiologist during surgeries and can earn more than primary care physicians — approximately $189,000 per year. The training to become a nurse anesthetist includes becoming a registered nurse and working in an intensive care unit or equivalent for a minimum of a year before going on to a graduate program: either CRNA training or physician assistant training specializing in anesthesiology. Both of these graduate programs require about two years to complete.

If you are interested in the medical field, but the thought of blood is more than you can stand, you are still in luck. It takes a lot more than medical professionals to run the health care industry, and jobs in areas such as health care administration, health information technology and management engineering are also on the rise. Salaries for these positions range from $30,000 to nearly $100,000 annually.

Financial Sector

In the financial sector, accounting majors are quickly finding accounting jobs, which are expected to grow by 18% from 2008 to 2018. To find even more success as an accounting major, work towards earning your certified public accountant (CPA) license. Becoming a CPA is a difficult task to undertake and includes getting your bachelor’s degree, working in the industry for a number of hours designated by your state of residence, and passing a series of rigorous tests.

CPAs earn an average of $74,000 a year, and the average entry-level accounting position earns $44,700 a year. Other growing, in-demand financial sector jobs include financial advisors, industrial engineers, actuaries and budget and financial analysts.

IT Jobs

A college student most likely can’t go wrong by earning a degree in computer science, as the rate of technology is expected to continue to grow exponentially over the coming decades. Leading the pack for in-demand IT jobs are software developers, with a projected growth rate of 30% from 2008 to 2018 and an average yearly wage of $90,000, with a starting salary of $55,000. In fact, all computer-related jobs are expected to grow by 20% during that time frame.

Other potential careers for computer science majors include network systems and data communications analysts and database administrators, both with projected growth rates of 28%. For greater career security, find a job within the health care industry. A graduate degree is not always necessary.

When choosing a college major, pick one that appears likely to lead to a future that will last — and then find your niche in that field. Taking time to think about this now will be to your benefit when you graduate with a job and a salary to pay back student loans. Consider what you enjoy, but focus your decision on the reality of the major you choose and its ability to sustain you financially and fulfill you professionally.


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15 comments on “Giving Some Thought to College Majors: In-demand Careers

  1. This article offers different fields to go into that have a high chance of getting jobs out of college. This article is useful for people that don’t know how to get to the career they want, and people who don’t yet know what to do yet. For me, I want to go into Financing, and this article was able to recommend getting a CPA. Even though it might be difficult to get, it is achievable and well worth it in the future because it offers high rewards/money right out of college.

  2. I am at least a little more interested, or want to know a little more about some of those fields due to the information given. Computer-related jobs or a nurse anesthetist for example. It seemed unrealistic the amount of college graduates that are unemployed or underemployed. This was very useful in offering some jobs and fields to look into and why. The statistics really helped get the point across of the need to major in those fields, or why they helpful areas to major in. The number of “physician assistant jobs is expected to grow by 39% in the next 10 years” (Wharton High School). Shows the job growth expectancy for this field. This article is very helpful in the decision of trying to find what to major in. It gives useful statistics, and I liked how their wasn’t just information thrown together, nor was there too much of it either. These are areas I need to look into and maybe major in.

  3. In this article, Megan Wilkes describes how she has a passion for zoology, and wants to go to college to learn about it. But, out of college, zoology is one of the least likely careers to find a job in, which would leave Megan unemployed with student debt. So, she decides to become a high school biology teacher and study education in college. Getting a job in education has a higher percentage than getting a job in zoology, so Megan made the right decision. Also, the author of the article explains how high school students need to look at these stats, so they make a beneficial decision on what to major in college. For me, the need of engineers in this world is a growing business, so finding a job out of college shouldn’t be too bad. But, I will still pay attention to the statistics of graduated engineers.

  4. The article made me feel more confident in my major of choice since it involves being in both the medical and technology field. It is also helpful for students who want to have a secure future but don’t know what major to get into. Not many people want to be doctor’s or nurses but the article gives career options that do not necessarily involve being doctors but being in the IT field, to help doctors and nurses.

  5. This article introduced Megan Wilkes who is passionate about zoology, however zoology is a career that has limited job opportunities. To avoid unemployment, Wilkes decided to study education in college to become a high school biology teacher. Making a similar decision, though, can cause graduates to choose a different path instead of following their passion to avoid debt and unemployment. This piece stresses the need to look into a major most suitable for you before being caught in the same predicament. It explains that looking for the statistics mentioned will aid students in making the best decision. After reading this article, I feel more confident in my choice to pursue a major within the medical field because it assured me that jobs are plentiful, and it is likely I will have a secure future that will last.

  6. In this article, there are some very important points being made. Although it is very important for one to try to find work in a field that they enjoy or find extreme interest in, it is also crucial to be realistic and smart. Majoring in a certain field does not guarantee a job after one graduates from college but it is a good stepping stool. A graduate should be able to realize that if the field they would like to work in will not be enough to support them financially and professionally, there are alternatives. As suggested in the article, they can find a job related to the one they wanted and pursue that. Student loans are an important thing to think about as well when deciding these things because you realize that if you won’t be able to pay those back you made the wrong career move. This article definitely makes me want to be more careful with my major and my decisions.

  7. Sometimes it can be very hard to find a job coming out of college. If you do not pick the major that is right for you, then you might be stuck in debt and without a job. After reading the article I really want to go into computer science in college with a minor in graphic design. I had thoughts about being a computer science major, now I know I want to do it because I have a very good chance of getting a career after college. This article really made me think about what I want to do, and helped me decide where I want to go in life.

  8. In this article, it gives the reader good paying jobs that are in high demand out of college. The purpose that this article serves is information about what jobs are in high demand in the real world. For example, it shows that many jobs in the medical field are in high demand right now, and also job’s in finance and accounting are as well. I found this article helpful to me because it gives me an idea of what I could potentially major in and eventually what job to get out of college. Therefore, in the long term this is going to help me because when I go to college I know what to major in.

  9. This article first stood out to me because it started with introducing Megan Wilkes who wanted to be a zoology major. One of my desired career goals is to go to veterinary school, but I am struggling with the same issue: it is hard to find jobs after graduating. I am excited to see that some of my alternative routes are listed in the article and include decent hours and wages for starting salaries. Although that is not the most important factor in deciding on what career path to take it nice to be able to know what some of those options are and see if any may spark an interest. I was happy to not be overwhelmed by lists of careers that require eight years of schooling or over.

  10. After college, it can sometimes be difficult to find a job. So if you don’t find a career that you majored in, you just wasted your time and money. Which means you would have to go to school again,spending more time and money. I know when I go to college, I want to major in education. So I know that I will have a better chance of becoming a teacher then something I would not get a job for.

  11. In the article, there is a sentence that states, “…it is more important than ever to be smart about choosing a major.” I 100% agree with this because the major you choose and graduate with is the career field you will most likely be in for the rest of your life. Choosing the wrong major could put you on a path you can’t necessarily get out of. If you can, it would be very difficult. When choosing a major, you have to consider many things before you make that final decision.

  12. This article made me realize how important choosing a college major is. Along with taking my strengths, weaknesses, and passions into consideration, I also need to make sure that my field of work will still be relevant by the time I graduate and enter the workforce. Even though the alternatives mentioned in the article don’t apply to me personally, it makes me recognize that there are options for me to pursue. It overall makes me rethink what I want to do in life.

  13. A lot of times it is very hard to pick the right career for you that you enjoy, but you can also rely on getting a job easily. You have a lot of things to think about your major before you have to pick it. You also have to look into your major and see how many opportunities it has to give to you. This article really gives you an idea to help you put in the future.

  14. As for my insight into the article, I thought is was interesting that the article was suggesting facts like 53% of college graduates under 25 are unemployed for I never would imagine a startling number like that. However, I feel like this article deeply impacted me for I do want to explore a field somewhere in the financial to IT sector for each places high job growth, but also, I seemly like working with numbers and computers. Therefore, this article was helpful for I did learn some interesting information that I believe every kid should know for it is difficult to think of a major, but along with this, it is also difficult to plan for your future when you are just living in the present. With that in mind, I would believe the article’s proposed solution is the best for it keeps in mind your dreams and also potential for a job, which is important for I am sure people do not want to succumb to debt. As of such, this article was good.

  15. After graduating college, a majority of graduates are unemployed or underemployed whether their major is in demand or not. To the majority, the four plus years they just spent in college now seems like a major waste of time, effort and money. Obviously every job is not in high demand but that does not mean that people should not pursue their passion college. Personally, I want to be a makeup artist which is a small job field with not a ton of opportunities. When choosing a college major there are other elements that need to be considered beside strictly your passion.

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