What should I major in to find a job after college? Now there's a question on the lips of many a college student. While recent reports from the Department of Labor may show signs that the job market is easing some, most economists and analysts are anticipating a long, slow recovery from the Great Recession that will feature a particularly anemic job market. Any college student spending their nights pouring over these sorts of bleak economic numbers...should most likely relax. You're in college, live a little. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't ways to position oneself in order to be in a better situation during the inevitable job search to come.
Sectors with High Job Growth
Let's go out on a limb and say that you aren't going to college with the hopes of finding a job in the food service industry or construction, both of which have had accelerated job growth in 2011. However, there are a number of industries with fast growing employment figures that could offer college students a better idea of what majors might be best suited for finding employment. One valuable tool here is the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their Employment Projections Program generated predictions for job growth in the United states from 2009 to 2018, which is where we'll be pulling our data from.
This may seem obvious, but healthcare is a rapidly growing sector that is only projected to increase in size. "As the baby boomers begin to age, the healthcare industry begins to become very important," North Carolina Commerce Department Deputy Secretary Dale Carroll said. "That's not just service providers, but also life sciences and pharmaceutical services." Two of the five industries with the highest rate of projected job growth through 2018 were home health care services and individual and family services. As such, it should be clear that the potential in the sector extends beyond just going pre-med with aspirations of becoming a doctor. Nursing is actually the profession with the fastest rate of anticipated job growth. The Department of Labor projects 581,500 new openings for registered nurses by 2018, with another 460,000 positions for home health aides, the two jobs that are expected to see the most growth over that time period.
2. Professional and Business Services
The fastest growing industry in terms of employment is actually management, scientific, and technical consulting services, with a projected annual job growth of 6.2 percent through 2018. "Oh, no problem," I can hear you saying. "I'll just major in Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services." Okay, so this might be a less actionable tip than healthcare, but it is still important to note that the general economic shift away from manufacturing means that the United States is becoming a service-based economy first and foremost. As such, learning skills applicable to consulting services could be an easy way avoid having to move in with the parents. Students majoring in business administration and management, management information systems, human resources management, or even planning on getting their MBA are likely well suited to enter this field. However, given that it casts a pretty wide net, any number of science or engineering fields could also feed into a career in the sector on the technical or scientific side. Of course, any student feeling particularly frisky might even consider a double major with business and a science-related field to really set themselves up well.
It's probably a fair assumption that if you're currently a college student you'll know a great deal more about computers than the entire baby-boom generation collectively. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but it speaks to the potential that's present in the technology sector for young people to find their niche. Jobs in the information sector are growing rapidly, with projected job growth of 3.8 percent per year for data processing, hosting, related services, and other information services and 2.7 percent growth annually for software publishers. The Labor Department also expects there to be 175,000 new positions for computer software engineers by 2018. On the whole, as more and more business shifts online, tech jobs look to be the wave of the future and could provide any college student majoring in computer engineering, computer science, computer programming, or a variety of related fields some valuable long-term employment stability.
What better way to celebrate graduating from college than by turning right back around and getting a job working at a school, am I right? Education services is a growth industry, with some of the fastest growing professions falling into the sector. The Department of Labor's stats on projected job growth from 2009-2018 are once again telling. In that time period, the Labor Department projections have 234,000 jobs being added to Elementary and Secondary schools, 254,000 jobs being added to payrolls for Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools, and 315,000 new openings in other educational services, good for an annual growth rate of 4.5 percent. The underlying economic factors should be clear. As America shifts away from a manufacturing base, jobs require higher levels of education and a larger percentage of the population than ever should be seeking out better and more comprehensive schooling.
"Better Listen to Him, Flounder, He's in Pre-Med."
College students approaching the end of their 20 or so years of schooling are clearly doing so at what is, historically, one of the worst times ever to be entering the job market. While some may still hold out hope for the Occupy movement actually getting the government to forgive student loans, others may respond by seeking out a major that will point them on a career path with a higher chance for getting and keeping a job. Anyone looking for more info should also keep an eye out for the next EPP report. Their 2010-2020 projections are due out February of 2012.
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