Majors That Employers Look For The Most

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If you're wondering which degree to earn in college, here are ten majors that are at the top of employers' lists.

By Andrea Argueta

Let's face it. A lot goes into deciding what to study. Yes, you should be passionate about your major, but you should also want a degree that ups your employability odds upon graduation. 

And while most of us already know what we like and what we're good at, we're not as familiar with what employers are looking for.

But fret not - last year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed employers who are members of the organization about their future hiring plans, and which degrees they would most be on the lookout for. Based off of the employers' answers, NACE put together a list of top ten bachelor's degrees employers want most.

So if you're still having trouble deciding what to study, keep reading to find out which majors have made NACE's list of top ten bachelor's degrees.

Employable Degree #1: Finance

Topping NACE's list of employers' most sought after bachelor's degrees is finance, with nearly 67 percent of companies surveyed saying that they plan to hire candidates who've studied this major.

This is really good news if you're into keeping up with the stock market, or reading financial publications like BusinessWeek or The Wall Street Journal - two activities that could be part of a finance program, says the College Board, a nonprofit organization that promotes higher education.

Click to Find the Right Finance Program.

Why Employers Love It: "As our financial system grows more complex, the demand for finance majors will continue to grow," says Bonnie Kerrigan Snyder, a private college and career consultant and author of "The Unemployed College Graduate's Survival Guide." Why? Well, students in a finance program "understand the basics of economics and how to make complicated financial deals happen."

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #2: Computer and Information Sciences

Coming in at number two on the NACE list is computer and information sciences, with 65.3 percent of employers from the survey saying they plan to hire students who majored in these fields. And this is no surprise, since these majors also held the second spot last year, says the NACE.

This is great news for those who can't keep away from their computer, as according to the College Board, students in this major could learn the way computer systems and humans interact in a computer science program or how to create systems for storing data in an information science program.

Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Why Employers Love It: Today, businesses rely on computers for smooth business operation,  says Snyder.  In fact, Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, chief career writer and president of Career Trend points out that technology has threaded its way through every job.

She believes computer and information science majors are in demand because "nearly every company needs computer-savvy professionals to keep pace with the company's technology needs, as well as with the dependence on network systems for global virtual operations, and security issues abound. "Those with information technology departments, or whose product development is tech-centric, need these majors, too, says Barrett-Poindexter.

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #3: Accounting

Accounting is the third most popular bachelor's degree, according to NACE. The fact that over 58 percent of employers surveyed are planning to hire accounting majors is the reason it ranked so high. So if you're into numbers - you're in luck.

Accounting majors not only learn to create balance sheets, but they also learn to prepare tax filings, says the College Board. Students may also spend time learning to keep track of financial transactions and interpret financial performance and risks.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Why Employers Love It:  Employers value this degree because accounting majors know how to track where money comes and goes, and that is essential for business operations, says Snyder. Barrett-Poindexter agrees and says, "It's all about the bottom line, and accounting directly impacts the numbers. Virtually all employers, even those who outsource this function, value this degree." 

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #4: Business Administration and Management

And what major has the fourth spot on NACE's list of top bachelor's degrees? Business administration and management. In fact, 55.6 percent of employers who were surveyed said that they want to hire candidates who graduate from this program.

In a business administration and management program, the College Board says you could learn the ins and outs of controlling an organization's activities. You might even discuss case studies of issues affecting real companies. So if you enjoy leadership roles and have solid problem-solving skills, this might be a good option for you, says the College Board.

Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Why Employers Love It: This degree increases your employability because "it ensures employers that you understand how their business operates and that you grasp their core operating concerns," says Snyder. Not only that but it also "prepares you to compete for a wide variety of entry-level positions."

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #5: Mechanical Engineering

Ranking at number five on the list is mechanical engineering. In fact, half of employers that NACE surveyed plan to hire these graduates, making this the top in-demand engineering degree. But what does it take to pursue this degree?

Well, according to the College Board, it helps to be "a fan of science and math, a creative problem solver, and someone who likes to take things apart to find out how they work."

Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.

Why Employers Love It: In a mechanical engineering program, students develop the skills needed to help businesses improve and streamline their technological efficiency, says Snyder. Because of this, "they are central to the core technology of every manufacturing enterprise," says Snyder, making them attractive candidates.

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #6: Management Information Systems

Nearly half of employers are looking for these majors to fill job positions, making management information systems (MIS) the sixth bachelor's degree in demand from the NACE study.

The College Board says that if you're usually the one explaining technology to others, this might be a great fit for you. As an MIS major, you could focus on learning how to make technology work and how businesses use it.

Click to Find the Right Information Systems Program.

Why Employers Love It: Information systems students gain the knowledge needed to oversee an entire organization's technology planning process, Snyder says. Not only that, but they also develop the specific technical skills needed to implement and sustain the system once it's in place, adds Snyder.

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #7: Electrical Engineering

If you're a hardcore science fan and have a thing for electricity, majoring in electrical engineering might be the best way to go. This degree is in demand by 49 percent of the employers surveyed by NACE.

But the best part is that you'll learn how electricity works and come up with your own electric-powered projects if you major in electrical engineering, says the College Board. "You'll get to build things like logic circuits, processors, amplifiers, and even small vehicles and security systems," it says. 

Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.

Why Employers Love It: Employers need electrical engineering majors because they are the only ones with the skills to translate the potential power of electricity into safe applications that everyone can access, says Snyder. "They literally make businesses run!"

Not only is our world powered by electricity, but many products require the expertise of electrical engineering majors to design microchips, communications systems, and medical devices, says Barrett-Poindexter. Plus, the degree is invaluable for companies incorporating the use of laser and robots to solve problems. Engineering firms, energy companies, and telecommunications organizations are a few of the types of employers who need professionals with this degree, she adds.

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #8: Computer Engineering

Almost 44 percent of employers say they will hire those who've graduated from this major. And computer engineering not only holds the number eight spot on NACE's list of top in-demand bachelor's degrees, but it also ranked third in its list of top engineering degrees in demand.

This is great news for those who'd like to know what makes computers work, since according to the College Board, students in this degree program learn to develop computer hardware and software. But that's not all you have to like. An interest in solving math problems could be a good asset, since the College Board adds that you could spend lots of time figuring out tough math problems, and might take courses like calculus and discrete mathematics.

Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.

Why Employers Love It: "Every businessperson needs someone to call when it's time to set up a new computer network, create new business-specific software, upgrade Internet security, or just to handle an annoying Error 404 message," says Snyder. Computer engineering majors are equipped to handle all this and more and this makes them employable, she adds. 

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #9: Marketing

Do you enjoy watching TV commercials more than you enjoy watching TV shows? Then you might want to enroll in a bachelor's degree in marketing. Why? Because this major ranked ninth in NACE's report, with 41 percent of employers surveyed saying that they are seeking these majors.

As for what you'll study, the College Board says you could analyze past advertising campaigns and learn how to build a loyal group of customers. Learning to discover why consumers buy the things they do is also part of this program, along with consumer behavior and marketing research courses.

Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.

Why Employers Love It: "Marketing is at the heartbeat of promotion, public relations, and sales," says Barrett-Poindexter. These majors are needed because they drive traffic to a company's door, "especially in today's highly competitive environment and with the explosion of serving customers on the Internet and through social networking," she says.

Career Options*:

Employable Degree #10: Economics

And finally in tenth place, is a bachelor's degree in economics. Even though it comes in the last place of NACE's list of top in-demand degrees, that doesn't mean its demand is low. In fact, a whopping 40.3 percent of employers from the survey say they will hire economics graduates.

So what will you study in an economics program? Well, according to the College Board, you'll learn about economic systems and models, and may take courses like international trade and econometrics. You might also have to compare Republican and Democratic tax plans and play investment simulations games with fellow students, says the College Board. Oh, and let's not forget reading up on the news every day.

Click to Find the Right Business Program.

Why Employers Love It: "Those who understand economics have an advantage in understanding the bottom-line fundamentals that drive all business success," says Snyder. And employers like that. "It makes them irresistible hires," she says.

Career Options*:

* All career options listed are from the 2012-2013 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Department of Labor cites the associated degrees as common, required, preferred, or one of a number of degrees acceptable as preparation for the potential career. In some instances, candidates might require further schooling, professional certifications, or experience, before being qualified to pursue the career.

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