Top Five Degrees for In-Demand Careers

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Check out these five degrees that could help you prepare to pursue an in-demand career.

By Tony Moton

To better meet the needs of students who want to improve their hiring potential, colleges have started changing course - and their courses, too.

In fact, some schools are now tailoring their education programs to focus on giving students more employable job skills, with the hope of aligning them with in-demand careers, according to Esther Hugo, a spokesperson for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), a national trade organization for college counselors and admissions professionals.

"What I see is colleges making a concerted effort to offer things that would lead directly to jobs," Hugo says. "There is more pressure for colleges and universities to show that their students are going to be employable."

And while there are no guarantees that earning a degree will land you a job, it could help put you in the right direction.

Still intrigued? Check out these five degree options that are connected to careers with high potential job growth.


Degree #1 - Bachelor's in Health Care Administration
In-Demand Career: Medical and Health Services Manager

What does it take to make a hospital or health care facility run smoothly? How can health care providers enrich the experiences of patients in their care?

These are the kinds of questions you might answer during a health care administration program, which generally includes courses in accounting, human resources administration, law and ethics, and hospital organization and management, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

What's more, "prospective medical and health services managers have a bachelor's degree in health care administration," says the Department of Labor. Earning a master's degree in an area like health services, public health, and business administration is also common.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Why are medical and health services managers in demand? Medical and health services managers are projected to see a 22 percent increase in hiring numbers between 2010 and 2020, due to an aging population and people remaining active longer, notes the Department.* This could explain why Meg Benke, provost and vice president for academic affairs at State University New York, Empire State College, is seeing a greater number of programs in health care administration. "Education institutions now do market research, and we don't start a new program unless there is a need," says Benke.


Degree #2 - Bachelor's in Business Administration
In-Demand Career: Financial Analyst

If you have dreams of moving up the corporate ladder, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration could help you get one step closer.

Hugo says schools are responding to the popularity of business programs by making sure students are working on skills sets they'll need when looking for employment. "Programs are showing students how to construct business plans, allocate resources, and develop budgets," Hugo says. "Right now, you see so many startups, and people who have those skills are in high demand."

And what's one in-demand career you could prep for with this degree? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bachelor's degree in business administration is one option to pursuing a career as a financial analyst.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Why are financial analysts in demand? "A growing range of financial products and the need for in-depth knowledge of geographic regions are expected to lead to strong employment growth," says the Department of Labor. Just how much employment growth are we talking about? A whopping 23 percent between 2010 and 2020.*


Degree #3 - Bachelor's in Communications
In-Demand Career: Public Relations Specialist

In today's age of the blogosphere and social media, communications degree programs recognize the importance of communication skills when it comes to employment opportunities.

According to the College Board, an education organization that administers tests like the SAT, a bachelor's degree program in communications may offer courses in advertising and marketing communications, media analysis and criticism, public speaking, and public relations writing.

And, "In a class on public relations writing, you'll learn how to create and promote a public image - of an organization or a person," says the College Board. This is a great skill to have - especially if you're interested in pursuing an in-demand career as a public relations specialist, which generally requires a bachelor's degree in public relations, communications, or journalism, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

Why are public relations specialists in demand? Thanks to the growth of social media and the need to maintain an organization's reputation, the Department of Labor projects public relations specialists to see a 23 percent spike in jobs between 2010 and 2020.*


Degree #4 - Bachelor's in Computer Science
In-Demand Career: Software Developer

Do you want to earn a degree that could help you pursue your interest in computers, electronic gadgets, and technology? Starting a bachelor's degree in computer science might be a step in the right direction.

Why? Well, let's take a look at the commonly offered courses, per the College Board. For a computer science major, it lists courses like artificial intelligence, software engineering, and digital system design.

What's more, the College Board says "Computer science majors learn about computer systems and the way humans and computers interact from a scientific perspective."

So, what kind of in-demand career is this degree ideal for? Software developer is one option, as people in the career generally have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related area, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Why are software developers in demand? Because computer systems are built into our everyday gadgets - like cell phones and tablets - software developers are projected to see a 30 percent job growth from 2010 to 2020, according to the Department of Labor. Other reasons for growth in this field include concerns over cyber security and the technological advances in the health care industry.*


Degree #5 - Associate's in Nursing
In-Demand Career: Registered Nurse (RN)

Do you want to pursue a degree that could help you help others combat and recover from sickness and injury? Consider earning a nursing degree.

The U.S. Department of Labor says nursing education programs generally include courses such as nursing, psychology, social and behavioral sciences, anatomy, as well as classes in liberal arts.

And an associate's degree in nursing, plus passing the National Council Licensure Examination, is one common route towards pursuing an in-demand career as a registered nurse, notes the Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Why are RNs in demand? The Department projects the number of RNs will increase by 26 percent from 2010 to 2020, thanks to several factors, including technological advancements that will enable the treatment of more patients.* "Nursing is one of the fields that have been identified as having demand across the board," says Benke.


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm (visited May 16, 2012).


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