Degrees Employers Plan to Hire in 2012


Wondering what to major in? These five degrees are most in-demand by employers.

By Deanna Ting

Thinking about going back to school to earn your degree, but having trouble deciding on a major?

New research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) shows that certain degrees could lead to a hiring edge come graduation.

While some related studies look at the popularity of certain degrees nationwide, NACE's "Job Outlook 2012" report polled 244 major employers directly, and asked them specifically about their future hiring plans and needs.

"Specific disciplines of targeted interest include accounting; finance; business administration; and mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering," says NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes.

Here's a list of the top five most in-demand bachelor's degrees for 2012.

#1 In-Demand Degree - Bachelor's in Finance

A bachelor's degree program in finance involves a lot more than just number crunching. Almost every business or organization is in need of a good finance professional these days, especially to monitor corporate scandals and avoid financial crises, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Perhaps that's why 61.3 percent of employers surveyed by NACE said they plan to hire bachelor's in finance grads this year.

Click to Find the Right Finance Program.

In-Demand Factors: "As baby boomers get older, retirement and financial planning services are also growing in demand," says's Guide to Human Resources, Susan M. Heathfield. "Any advisory planning that can help people overcome their economic problems is going to be huge."

Potential Careers: A bachelor's degree in finance can prep you to pursue a gig as a financial analyst, personal financial advisor, or insurance underwriter, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.*

#2 In-Demand Degree - Bachelor's in Accounting

Between 2010 and 2020, the U.S Department of Labor projects that one-fifth of the 20 jobs with the most growth will be related to office and administrative support services, including bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks.

Looking at these figures, it's no surprise that a bachelor's degree in accounting is in demand by employers.

In fact, the NACE report notes that 59.3 percent of the surveyed employers intend to hire accounting grads in 2012.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

In-Demand Factors: "Stricter laws and regulations, particularly in the financial sector, will likely increase the demand for accounting services as organizations seek to comply with new standards," says the Department of Labor.

Potential Careers: Accountant, auditor, and budget analyst are just some career paths you could potentially pursue with a bachelor's degree in accounting.*

#3 In-Demand Degree - Bachelor's in Computer and Information Sciences

"Computer science, network administration, identity theft and security - all of these industries are hiring like mad," says Heathfield.

And statistics from the NACE report don't stray far from Heathfield's observations. In fact, the report found that 59.3 percent of the surveyed employers said they're planning on hiring bachelor's in computer and information sciences grads this year.

Click to Find the Right Computer and Information Sciences Program.

In-Demand Factors: You only need to look at your smartphone, tablet, or computer screen to know why the demand for computer science majors isn't going away anytime soon.

Potential Careers: With a bachelor's degree in computer or information science, you could prepare to pursue tech-savvy careers like network and computer systems administrator, computer systems analyst, or software developer.*

#4 In-Demand Degree - Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering

Electronics, like computers, are involved in almost every aspect of our daily lives - from the alarm clock/radio that wakes us up in the morning to the complex motors that run our electric hybrid cars.

This could explain why 51.5 percent of surveyed employers are planning to hire bachelor's in electrical engineering grads in 2012, according to the NACE report.

Click to Find the Right Electrical Engineering Program.

In-Demand Factors: "The rapid pace of technological innovation and development will likely drive demand for electrical and electronics engineers in research and development, where their expertise will be needed to develop distribution systems related to new technologies," says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Potential Careers: According to the College Board, an educational organization that administers tests like the SAT, a related career path for electrical engineering majors includes - surprise, surprise - electrical engineer.

#5 In-Demand Degree - Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering

Are you always the go-to person when it comes to fixing things around the house? Do you want to study the new ways to use tools, engines, or machines? Consider earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Not only will this degree likely teach you what are looking to learn - it's also a degree that's hot among employers.

In fact, 50 percent of the surveyed employers said they plan to hire mechanical engineering grads in 2012, notes the NACE report.

Click to Find the Right Mechanical Engineering Program.

In-Demand Factors: Because all things mechanical can apply to a variety of industries from manufacturing to construction - the range of potential employers could be huge. The U.S. Department of Labor even notes that "mechanical engineers will also be involved in various manufacturing industries - specifically, transportation equipment and machinery manufacturing. They will be needed to design the next generation of vehicles and vehicle systems, such as hybrid-electric cars and clean diesel automobiles."

Potential Careers: With a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, you could be well-prepared to pursue a career as a mechanical engineer.*

*Unless otherwise noted, all potential careers info comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 edition.

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