Degrees That Employers Want


Find out which 6 degrees rank highest in terms of employment.

By Chris Kyle

Come graduation time, the English major, history buff, computer whiz, and business student all look alike in their caps and gowns.

Their job prospects, on the other hand, look very different.

Corporate consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas polled 100 human resource professionals in 2010 to find out which degrees have the best odds of helping students find employment.

If you're contemplating a return to school and deciding what you want to study, read on for the six degrees that rank highest in terms of employment.

#1 - Health Care Degree

Graduates with recession-proof degrees in health care could find great success, according to Challenger. In fact, more than one in four (26.3 percent) HR professionals picked health care as the best bet for job security. Nurses are receiving the most employment offers in this category.

Desirable Degrees:
Physical Therapy
Medical Technician

Average Starting Pay:
Nursing: $52,178
Health & Related Sciences: $35,869

Next step: Search for Nursing and Health Care schools now.

#2 - Business Administration Degree

It's no coincidence that business is booming for graduates with a business's the most popular bachelor's degree in the country.

Graduating with a degree in business administration puts job seekers in the second strongest position overall, just behind health care, according to the Challenger survey.

Desirable Degrees:
Business Administration
Business Administrative Support

Average Starting Pay:
Business Administration: $44,171

Next step: Find the right Business school and start your training!

#3 - Computer Science Degree

Computers are an indispensable part of the economy, and so are graduates who study computer science, which ranks as the third most valuable degree in today's employment market.

Desirable Degrees:
Computer Science
Technology Support
Information Technology and Systems

Average Starting Pay:
Computer Science: $61,783
Information Sciences & Systems: $49,318

Next step: Search for local and online Technology and Computer Science schools.

#4 - Accounting/Finance Degree

Finance and accounting graduates can expect their fortunes to improve as the economy improves. "Historically, hiring on Wall Street has recovered before the rest of the economy," Richard Lipstein, managing director at Boyden Global Executive Search, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Desirable Degrees:

Average Starting Pay:
Economics: $53,453
Finance: $50,535
Accounting: $49,022

Next step: Search for Accounting/Finance programs.

#5 - Engineering Degree

It might surprise you to learn that engineering degrees are ranked fifth in terms of employment - and not first - but don't start feeling sorry for engineers just yet. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, eight of the top 10 best-paid majors are in engineering.

Desirable Degrees:
Biomedical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Network Engineering and Administration
Programming and Software Engineering

Average Starting Pay:
Petroleum Engineering: $90,000
Computer Engineering: $59,298
Mechanical Engineering: $60,598

#6 - Marketing Degree

Demand remains strong for marketing graduates in the business world, though a more general business administration degree, ranked number two overall, gets the edge in today's tight job market because of its broader application.

Desirable Degree:

Average Starting Pay:
Marketing: $41,948

Next step: Search for schools with local and online Marketing degree programs now.

* All salary information from the National Association of Colleges and Employers' Winter 2011 Salary Survey, which looked at starting salary offers for new Class of 2011 college graduates.

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