Most college students pursue a degree to land a job after graduation. But while immediate employment is important, it shouldn’t be the only consideration. Some careers may look promising right now, but outsourcing and changes in consumer preferences can negatively impact the number of available jobs. Of course there’s the possibility that some jobs may be phased out as a result of automation. The key, then, is to find majors that correspond to high-need jobs of the future.
A recent report by the Indeed.com employment site analyzed job projection data, compiling a list of the best fields of study and college majors:
||Field of Study
||Computer & Information Sciences
||Computer Science, Computer Networking
||Software Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Biomedical Engineering
||Business – Management
||Business Administration, Intl Business
||Health Professions & Related Programs
||Biology, Nursing, Healthcare Administration, Medicine, Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy
||Business – Finance
||Finance, Accounting, Economics
Indeed’s chief economist and jobs of the future
GoodCall asked Indeed to explain its methodology for determining the best fields of study for jobs of the future. “In this report, we started by looking at wage and wage growth, as that is an area in which we’ve seen low to stagnant growth through the recovery,” says Tara Sinclair, Ph.D., chief economist at Indeed. “The jobs we chose have seen 25 percent wage growth from 2004-2014 and paid salaries of at least $57,700 a year in today’s dollars,” Sinclair explains.
Beyond the wage factor, Sinclair says these fields lead to jobs with a lower risk of automation. She adds, “They are more downturn resistant because they often transfer across industries, and there is generally more employer demand than job seeker interest according to Indeed postings.”
For college students still searching for a college major, Sinclair warns against choosing a field solely based on job outlook. “Educate yourself on the job market and consider the fields that are both interesting to you as well as show a strong trajectory for the future.”
And for students who want to stay in a field that isn’t in high demand, Sinclair offers the following advice: “Consider extra-curricular activities or classes that can prepare you to be part of the economy of the future in some way.”
GoodCall also wanted to know the factors that make these particular fields of study good choices for jobs of the future, so we invited a team of experts to share their views.
Computer and information sciences
According to Julien Barbier, CEO of Holberton School, certain specialties, such as software engineers, are in such high demand that this field is not only a great choice for students, it’s also critical to the country’s future.
Barbier tells GoodCall, “According to Megan Smith, chief technology officer of the United States and former Google executive, within the next decade there will be 1.4 million tech and IT jobs, but roughly 400,000 qualified employees.”
Recent research suggests that the U.S. will need foreign labor to fill STEM jobs, and the country already imports software engineers, “However, with strict visa policies, many are turned down, so companies still suffer, and this lack of available talent has become a threat to the U.S. economy,” explains Barbier.
As a result, he says that students who choose to study computer science have a much better chance of finding high-paying, in-demand jobs of the future.
While there’s a lot of variety in engineering, there’s also a common problem: not enough engineering grads to fill open positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 10-year projection for jobs reflects a high demand for biomedical engineers, petroleum engineers, marine engineers, and environmental engineers.
In addition, job growth rates are good for civil engineers, mechanical engineers, health and safety engineers, and mining and geological engineers.
Between renovating and building new houses, stores, and other types of buildings, there’s certainly no shortage of work for those who major in architecture. Courtney Casburn Brett, owner and architect at the Casburn Brett Architecture firm, clearly sees a future in this field. Recognized as the youngest entrepreneur/architect in the U.S., she began college at the age of 14, and started her own firm at the age of 24.
Casburn Brett believes there’s a good reason why a degree in architecture leads to one of the jobs of the future. “In addition to studying the history, theory, and practical application of design, architecture graduates are trained in complex problem solving or ‘design thinking’ strategies.” And as a result, she tells GoodCall, “This unique approach to defining solutions propels graduates to success, not only in the field of architecture and construction, but in a variety of other industries.”
Business – management
David M. Long, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary, believes that a management degree offers a distinct advantage. “Unlike specialty degrees in business, management is about leading and working with diverse groups of people,” Long says.
He explains that management majors spend a lot of time learning the nuances of communication, which is one of the critical skills that recruiters want. “The bottom line – a person can either be an expert in something, or know how to work with and lead experts in something, and managers are often the latter.”
Long tells GoodCall that managers are needed in every industry: administration, marketing and PR, manufacturing, HR, sales, and a litany of other sectors.
Health professions and related programs
Many of the health professions and related programs are viewed as pathways to in-demand jobs. Psychology is one of those programs. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, a Chicago-based psychologist and licensed clinical professional counselor, points to several factors leading to sustained job growth. “With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to provide mental health benefits to their insured; this is a huge change from many policies before, and this opens the door to make mental health services available to millions of individuals who needed but could not get services before.”
In addition, Martinez tells GoodCall that the stigma associated with mental health is diminishing, and more people are realizing the benefits of speaking with a professional when they’re stressed or dealing with a myriad of other issues.
Business – finance
Accounting is one of the fields that has more certified public accountants retiring than obtaining new licenses, according to J. Keith Baker, MSFS, MBA, CPA, CFP®, CGMA, mortgage faculty member and program coordinator for Mortgage Banking at North Lake College. “The Institute of Management Accountants has ramped up its marketing so much so that, in certain markets, students who have finished their junior year of an accounting program and who show up with a resume and their faculty adviser at a local chapter meeting will more often than not find an internship in the offering within a week.”
Baker tells GoodCall that firms generally don’t consider using H-1B visas to obtain additional overseas talent because it costs almost $5,000 for each employee – and the industry is experiencing at least a 17% turnover rate annually at the Big Four accounting firms.
Melinda Kibler, EA, Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and portfolio manager in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida office of Palisades Hudson Financial Group agrees. Accounting, finance, and economics are great majors for students who want to increase their odds of landing a job upon graduation.”
Kibler tells GoodCall that investment markets and tax laws constantly change, and clients need help planning their financial future, and she adds that roboadvisors can’t take the place of a human financial adviser. “Life expectancies are increasing, while pensions are a thing of the past, which is making it more difficult to save for retirement; also, the price tag for college tuition keeps climbing.” Kibler says all of these changes and major life events help to ensure that financial professionals stay in demand.