When choosing a college major, it’s a good idea to select one that provides a range of career options. Of course, students should choose a major that matches their aptitude and interests, since this increases the chances that they will actually complete their course of study, graduate, and be successful in their chosen profession.
However, in the current economic climate, there are more college graduates than jobs, so choosing a major that can lead to more than one profession increases the chances of getting hired. And in the event of being laid-off, it provides more of a cushion against long-term unemployment.
Now, it’s true that some specialized majors are projected to experience long-term growth and job stability at least through the next decade. For example, degrees in such medical fields as nursing and physical therapy, as well as engineering degrees in civil engineering and biomedical engineering, are among the specialized fields with a higher-than average job outlook.
On the other hand, for some careers with specialized majors, such as agricultural, chemical, and electrical engineers, as well as compensation and benefits specialists and managers, the U.S. Department of Labor projects job growth will be much less than the 14 percent growth rate predicted for most other jobs.
And the cost of acquiring a college education is another reason to consider degrees that can lead to a variety of career options. By the year 2016, the cost of a higher education at a 4-year public university is expected to be double what it was in 2001, leading even more students to borrow the funds they need to secure an education.
As a result, the average college graduate has over $23,000 in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. At least 10 percent of students have over $54,000 in student loan debt, while 3 percent of students owe $100,000.
These factors combine to make it vitally important for students to choose majors that offer the best return on investment. One way to accomplish this is to consider bachelor degrees that offer several career paths.
Versatile Degree #1: Computer Science
A degree in computer science includes coursework in artificial intelligence, computer design, software design, and data structures and algorithms. These graduates are prepared to work in a number of high-paying tech positions.
-Computer systems analysts, who earn a mean annual wage of $83,800, examine an organization’s existing computer systems and design ways to improve performance and efficiency.
-Software developers ($90,470) design applications and computer systems for computer games, mobile phones, and other uses.
-Database administrators ($79,120) ensure that a company’s database is secure, operates without glitches, and allows for data retrieval after power outages.
-Network and computer systems administrators ($76,320) oversee local area networks, wide area networks, intranets, and other types of computer networks.
Versatile Degree #2: English/Journalism/Communications
Classes vary depending on the major, but as a general rule, students majoring in English, journalism, or communications take such classes as public speaking, linguistics, communication theory, mass media, and popular culture. As a result, any one of the three degrees will prepare students to pursue similar careers.
-Writers, who earn an annual mean wage of $68,420, create content for websites, books, and magazines, and they also write TV and movie scripts, and song lyrics.
-News analysts, reporters, and correspondents ($48,510) interview subjects and relay various news stories.
-Technical writers ($67,910) create the product information for owners’ manuals and how-to manuals, and they write answers for frequently asked questions.
-Public relations specialists ($61,980) generate constructive information to create a positive impression of their company.
-Meeting, convention, and event planners ($49,830) handle transportation, accommodations, food service, entertainment, and other aspects of conferences, meetings, and events such as weddings.
Versatile Degree #3: Biology
Biology majors study such topics as zoology, genetics, marine biology, and biochemistry. This educational background opens the door to many jobs in the field of science.
-Geoscientists, who earn an annual mean wage of $106,780, study the Earth’s history, structure and processes to gain knowledge of how it works.
-Zoologists and wildlife biologists ($62,500) study animals and other wildlife forms and develop conservation plans.
-Medical laboratory scientists ($58,640) test such samples as blood and other body fluids for the presence of abnormalities.
-Biological technicians ($42,600) conduct laboratory tests for research and product development.
-Environmental scientists ($68,970) work to protect the environment and its inhabitants from air, water, or land pollution.
Versatile Degree #4: Accounting
Accounting students take classes in business law, accounting information systems, cost and tax accounting. This wealth of knowledge makes them well qualified for various financial positions.
-Accountants and auditors, who earn a mean annual wage of $71,040, handle financial records, and taxes for individuals and companies.
-Budget analysts ($72,100) assist in developing budgets, review funding requests, and monitor spending.
-Financial analysts ($89,410) provide advice regarding stocks, bonds, and other investments.
-Financial examiners ($84,220) work with banks and other financial institutions to monitor lending requirements and loan risk levels.
-Cost estimators ($63,080) evaluate the amount of money, time, labor, and materials needed to build products or provide services.
Versatile Degree #5: Business Administration
Business administration majors learn principles of business policy and strategy, business ethics and law, financial management, and operations management. Career options abound for these graduates.
-Medical and health services managers, who earn a mean annual wage of $98,460, may oversee specific medical departments or an entire medical facility.
-Administrative services managers ($88,690) oversee supplies, mail, records, and equipment.
-Human resources managers ($109,590) direct the recruitment, hiring and training of new employees, and also handle employee benefits and disciplinary actions.
-Management analysts ($88,070) help organizations operate more efficiently by reducing costs and increasing revenue.
-Industrial production managers ($97,490) oversee the day-to-day operations of manufacturing plants.
Versatile Degree #6: Graphic Design
Graphic design students take classes in Photoshop, typography, production design and graphic design techniques. After honing their artistic and creative skills, they can choose from several careers.
-Graphic designers, who earn an annual mean wage of $48,730, design logos and they create and select the text, colors, and images for such products as brochures, magazines, and book covers.
-Video game concept artists and animators ($68,000) create characters, backgrounds, and the movement of video game objects.
-Web designers ($66,100) create the artistic look of websites, and integrate graphics, video and audio.
-Illustrators ($54,000) create the pictures used in such publications as magazines and books, and the designs for wrapping paper, gift cards, and other types of commercial products.
-With a few years of experience, a graphic design degree can also lead to a career as an art director ($94,260), overseeing the artwork and layouts developed by other graphic artists.
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