To put it bluntly, a great number of recent and soon-to-be graduates face dire career prospects. This is not due to their work ethic or breadth of knowledge. Instead, the lack of job opportunities for many students boils down to the economy – though recovering and not in nearly as bad of shape as it was just two years ago, it is still stalled in various industries, leading to massive job losses and widespread company closures. However, not all industries have such bleak outlooks. As an article published by MSNBC states, "Tomorrow’s employers will put a premium on skilled and semi-skilled workers, especially in computers, health care, science and technology."
Below are eight of the most in-demand majors right now, meaning that graduates holding these degrees will find not only ample, but prosperous job opportunities once they complete schooling.
- Computer Science. There is little doubt that technology will become increasingly important as the years roll on, driving up the need for those with computer science expertise as businesses and government agencies turn to computers, networks, and the Internet to improve work profitability and efficiency. With a degree in computer science, whether it is an undergraduate or graduate degree, students will receive the skills they need to join some of the fastest growing jobs today. One such possible career is in computer systems analysis. These individuals work with organizations to create and configure hardware and software so that the organization may better meet their goals. In other words, they determine what the organizations wants to do with its technology and they devise a way to make that possible through developing programs, developing systems, and data modeling. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment for computer systems analysts is projected to increase 20% throughout the 2008-2018 decade.
- Information Systems. Another technology-related major, this field of study focuses more on information technology and networks than computer science. Graduates of this degree program will find ample job opportunities, including the possibility of working as a network architect. Network architects, also known as network engineers, design computer networks. For an organization, they are responsible for setting up the local area networks and wide area networks, as well as Internet systems, intranet systems, and other data communications systems. All of this allows for organizations to communicate internally within the company both in-house and across the country, as well as communicate with outside sources. Between 2008-2018, approximately 286,600 new jobs for computer network, systems, and database administrators (this includes network architects) will be poured into the job market, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Biotechnology. Though biotechnology does involve tech work, as the name suggests, it is more concerned with the study of life than computers. Biotechnology graduates have the opportunity to work in one of the most in-demand jobs of the future – biomedical engineering. Biomedical engineers work to create procedures and tools that can advance the health care industry, providing physicians and patients with better ideas of how to treat or diagnose an illness or injury. They may work in pharmaceutical companies, medicine manufacturers, hospitals, or the government. The projected growth for these engineers during the 2008-18 decade is 72%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Environmental Engineering. The force behind the green movement is stronger than ever before as businesses and enthusiasts alike rally behind making changes – both big and small – to reduce the human carbon footprint on the planet. Those who graduate with this degree can find work as environmental engineers, which will see an extensive expansion of job opportunities as businesses turn to these engineers to help them comply with environmental regulations, according to the University at Buffalo. In addition, environmental engineers will enjoy good pay, with median earnings settling in at $61,410 in 2001 and starting salaries averaging at $44,702 annually, the University at Buffalo reported.
- Nursing. Registered nurses make up the largest healthcare occupation, with approximately 2.6 million jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though some nurses can begin working with only a nursing diploma or associate degree, however, more employers are beginning to actively seek out those who have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This means that if you wish to join this rapidly growing health care career field, it is a good idea to consider earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject. Registered nurses work with physicians to administer tests, educate patients, and conduct follow-up examinations. Job opportunities for these nurses is projected to increase 22% during the 2008-2018 decade, adding more than 580,000 jobs into the market, according to the Bureau.
- Pharmacy. Another healthcare profession, the road to becoming a pharmacist is a long one, as all pharmacists must hold a doctoral degree in pharmacy, otherwise known as a Pharm.D. However, the rewards for the lengthy educational career are great. Pharmacists will easily find work, as many clinics and retail stores will seek to expand their pharmacy teams to deal with the increased number of elderly citizens who need to have their medication dispensed. More than 45,000 new jobs will open up for pharmacists during the 2008-2018 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary for pharmacists is a perk as well, with the median annual wage averaging $106,410 in 2008, the Bureau reported.
- Accounting. One of the inevitable outcomes of the recent economic crisis is that companies are now paying much more attention to their finances. As a result, more businesses are hiring competent accountants that can keep tabs on everything, from expenditures to payroll to taxes. Employment opportunities for accountants are projected to increase 22% between 2008-2018, adding about 279,400 more openings into the market, according to an article published on U.S. News. This is in addition to the already 1.29 million jobs already held by accountants, making the job field sizable indeed.
- Communications. Though the print industry’s future is bleak, another writing field is taking off – technical writing. Communications majors will learn all of the skills they need to pursue a career as a technical writer, which is someone who works with an organization to "translate" technical and jargon-filled text into easy-to-understand writing. Most work in the information and technology industry, producing instructional manuals, memos, and other documents that can facilitate better communication within a company and with consumers. Employment opportunities for technical writers is projected to increase 18% during the 2008-2018 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding more than 8,000 new jobs into the market.
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