Great College Degrees for Career Options
Check out how these five college degrees could prepare you for a variety of career choices.
Thinking of going back to school but not sure what to study?
Here's some advice: Try linking your education to the career you want, says Dan Kilgore, a principal with Riviera Advisors, a talent acquisition consulting firm that works with start-ups and Fortune 500 companies.
"It's not enough to simply have a college degree these days," Kilgore says. "You want to maximize your opportunity for real-world exposure and getting a degree in your targeted field can help you do that."
In fact, tying your degree to a career could enhance your odds of finding employment after graduation, according to "Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal," a 2012 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
"Majors that are more closely aligned with particular occupations and industries tend to experience lower unemployment rates," says the Georgetown study.
Keep reading to learn more about five hot degrees and their related career options...
Looking for a college degree program that could help you develop real-world skills? You may want to get down to business.
Earning a bachelor's degree in business administration "prepares students to plan, organize, direct, and control an organization's activities," according to the College Board, a nonprofit educational organization that administers tests like the SAT.
While studying business administration, you could also have the opportunity to sharpen your problem-solving and leadership skills as you learn about business policy and strategy, says the College Board. They also note that commonly offered courses include marketing, accounting, international management, and more.
Why Business? Anyone who wants to learn how to turn a profit in the business world would be well-served to study business administration, Kilgore says. "It can also provide an excellent foundation for those looking to earn an MBA," he says.
Possible Career Paths: Personal financial advisor and market research analyst are just few of the careers you could prepare to pursue with a bachelor's in business administration, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.*
- A personal financial advisor is often responsible for assessing the financial needs of individuals and helping them make sound investment and insurance decisions.
- A market research analyst analyzes market conditions to determine how a product or service will sell.
Unlike liberal arts students, accounting students will never be accused of having their head in the clouds. That is, unless they're counting them.
"Accounting majors learn how to gather, record, analyze, interpret, and communicate information about an individual's or organization's financial performance and risks," says the College Board. While studying accounting, you'll likely learn how to read income statements and balance sheets. You're also likely to get familiar with industry terms like GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles).
Why Accounting? Kilgore says that accounting grads with a bachelor's degree may bypass entry-level bookkeeping positions, which are often held by those with an associate's degree or lower.
Possible Career Paths: A bachelor's degree in accounting could help provide the foundation you need to prepare to pursue a career as an accountant or budget analyst, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.*
- As an accountant, you'll likely be helping companies and people with their finances by preparing and examining their financial records.
- Another related occupation is budget analyst. They're the ones who are often responsible for monitoring a company's spending and providing guidance on how to organize their finances.
If you're a fan of computers, gadgets, and anything tech-related, chances are you might also enjoy earning a computer science degree.
What might computer-savvy folks love about this degree? It could be the fact that a computer science degree covers "languages such as C++ and Java, and introduce you to the precise thinking behind computer programming," says the College Board. "You'll learn how to solve problems by translating a question into instructions a computer can follow to come up with the answers."
Why Computer Science? "This is one degree that has withstood the test of time," says Kilgore, who says that computer science was a hot degree 25 years ago, and the same is still true today.
Possible Career Paths: Some obvious career path choices include software developers and computer programmer - both options for computer science grads, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.*
- As a software developer, you'll get to combine your creative mind with your love of computers by developing, designing, and testing new software.
- On the other side of this equation are computer programmers, who are responsible for turning the designs created by software developers into commands a computer can understand.
Are you curious about human behavior? Wonder why people do the things they do? If so, your curiosity could be humored in a bachelor's in psychology program.
"Unless you're a hermit who lives on a mountain, studying psychology can have real value," Kilgore says. "It can help you mentally switch sides and imagine what it would be like to be someone else."
Courses in this field include personality, social psychology, neuroscience, and more, according to the College Board, which notes that psychology majors get to discover the process in which humans and animals act, feel, think, and learn.
Why Psychology? Because it's a degree field you could utilize in a variety of fields. In fact, Kilgore says it's hard to imagine someone who wouldn't benefit from studying psychology, while the College Board adds that "this is a great major if you want to understand and help people of all kinds."
Possible Career Paths: Bachelor's in psychology grads could have the knowledge to prepare to pursue a career as a social worker or probation officer, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.*
- What do social workers do? They help people deal with their everyday problems that could include mental, behavioral, or emotional issues.
- Similarly, probation officers also help people. Specifically, they work with people who are placed on probation and help supervise and stop them from committing new crimes.
Looking for a career-oriented major? A criminal justice degree might be worth your consideration.
"A good criminal justice program doesn't just talk about busting the bad guys," Kilgore says. "You'll also learn a lot about history since what was once illegal can often be a big stretch from what is legal today."
What's more, "Students in criminal justice explore every aspect of crime, the law, and the justice system," writes the College Board.
Why Criminal Justice? On top of simply being interesting, a degree in criminal justice could offer students a broad look into a variety of service-related careers. In fact, "If you want to serve society and have good people skills, this may be the major for you," notes the College Board.
Possible Career Paths: Police officer and detective are just a few of the career fields that bachelor's in criminal justice grads may find opportunities in, notes the U.S. Department of Labor.*
- As you may already know, police officers protect people and property by enforcing laws, arresting suspects, patrolling assigned areas, and more.
- Likewise, detectives are responsible for investigating crimes, collecting evidence of crimes, and conducting interviews with suspects and witnesses.
*All career information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition.
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