Hot Degrees for Hard Times

hot_degrees_for_hard_times

Business and finance degrees are hot these days but another degree tops them both.

By Chris Kyle    

Thinking of going back to school to weather these tough times? You don't need to be a math major to see why it may make sense.

Nearly 96 percent of workers with a bachelor's degree were employed full-time in August 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That rate dips to 85.7 percent for high school dropouts.

Degree
National Employment Rate

Bachelor's degree

95.7%

Associate's degree

91.8%

High School Diploma

90.4%

Less than high school

85.7%

In even more encouraging news for college grads, the average starting salary to the class of 2011 rose 4.8 percent to $51,018, according to a July 2011 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). At the same time, the NACE survey reveals that some degrees are hotter than others.

Check out these five degrees that are hot, even in today's tough economic times...

Hot Degree #1: Accounting

Accounting students know a thing or two about numbers - and the numbers for new grads are encouraging these days. Employment opportunities for accountants are expected to climb 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Degree Program.

Meanwhile, starting salary offers for those with a bachelor's in accounting rose two percent to $49,671 in 2011, according to NACE. The average salary for all graduates with a bachelor's in accounting is $63,000, according to a 2011 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Potential Career Paths
Job Growth 2008-2018
Average Salaries**

Accountant

22%

$68,960

Financial analyst

20%

$86,040

Budget analyst

15%

$70,660

 


Hot Degree #2: Business Administration

Wondering if a career-minded major like business administration is for you? One potential benefit is that it can provide a broad-based business background that you can put to use in multiple industries.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Degree Program.

Starting salaries for business administration bachelor's degree grads rose 2.2 percent to $44,825 in 2011, according to NACE. In contrast, humanities and social science graduates received average salary offers of $40,057.

Potential Career Paths
Job Growth 2008-2018
Average Salaries**

Market researcher

28%

$66,850

Management analyst

24%

$87,260

Real estate broker

14%

$76,060

 


Hot Degree #3: Finance

In some much needed good economic news, the finance sector gained 3,000 jobs in August 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Meanwhile, new graduates with a bachelor's in finance saw their average salary offer jump six percent in 2011 to $53,906, according to NACE.

Click to Find the Right Finance Degree Program.

The average mid-career salary for those with a bachelor's in finance is $87,300, according to PayScale's 2011-2012 College Salary Report, which analyzed average salaries for different degrees.

Potential Career Paths
Job Growth 2008-2018
Average Salaries**

Personal financial advisor

30%

$91,220

Actuary

21%

$98,620

Financial analyst

20%

$86,040

 


Hot Degree #4: Computer Science

Employment of computer scientists is projected to jump 24 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Meanwhile, starting salary offers for grads with a bachelor's in computer science rose 3.7 percent to $63,402 in 2011, according to NACE.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Degree Program.

With an average salary of $98,000, computer science is one of the top-paying bachelor's degrees you can get, according to a 2011 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which detailed the potential earning power of 171 undergraduate majors.

Potential Career Paths
Job Growth 2008-2018
Average Salaries**

Database administrator

30%

$75,730

Computer programmer

21%

$74,900

Computer systems analyst

20%

$81,250

 


Hot Degree #5: Psychology

Starting salaries for psychology grads skyrocketed 23.8 percent to $40,069 in 2011, according to NACE, which reports that many psychology students accepted teaching or sales positions. The U.S. Department of Labor adds that many people with a degree in psychology find careers in areas such as sales and business management.

Click to Find the Right Psychology Degree Program.

The average mid-career salary for grads with a psychology degree is $61,300, according to PayScale's 2011-2012 College Salary Report.

Potential Career Paths
Job Growth 2008-2018
Average Salaries**

Market researcher

28%

$66,850

Social worker

16%

$52,270

Sales rep, wholesale and manufacturing, technical & scientific products

10%

$84,360

 


*Employment numbers courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor using August 2011 data.

**Unless otherwise noted, average salary info comes from the U.S. Department of Labor using May 2010 data. All job growth for 2008-2018 is from the U.S. Department of Labor.

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