College Majors With Low Unemployment


Want to earn a degree that employers want? Check out these five in-demand degrees.

By Terence Loose

If you're thinking about going back to school, we're guessing that choosing a degree that's attractive to employers is a priority.

Are we right? Of course we are. If not, everyone would major in things like TV watching, shopping, and Angry Birds. But what degrees could lead to solid job prospects?

To figure out the answer to that question, we talked to Susan Heathfield, a human resources expert and the writer of's "Human Resources," which gives advice about how people can relate with coworkers and their workplace.

We also checked out a 2012 Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report entitled "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal," which studied unemployment rates for recent grads, as well as those with some experience, in various majors. This is significant for people who have been in the workforce for a few years or more and are considering going back to school to earn a degree to be a little more competitive.

And getting a degree is something Heathfield highly recommends. "As an employer, when you're looking at the competition, you're going to take the degreed person over the non-degreed person every day," she says.

So if you're thinking of going back to school, here are some degrees you may want to consider.

Degree #1 - Health Care Administration

Want to earn a degree that will be in-demand with employers? Look into health care administration.

According to the Georgetown report, the unemployment rate for experienced grads in this field was just 2.9 percent between 2009 and 2010. This figure is impressively low when compared to the March national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.

"I give a thumbs up to this degree for careers because I think that any field that feeds into health care will see more and more openings," says Heathfield. She says the greater awareness for a need for preventative care will help drive job openings.

Aging baby boomers will play a part, too. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, an older population means more openings for health care managers - a position which generally requires a bachelor's or master's degree in this subject.

Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program Now.

What You'll Learn: According to the College Board, health care administration students will likely study every facet of managing health care facilities. This could include such things as financial management, human resources, and policy making. This helps prepare students for managing everything from nursing homes to hospital departments.

Degree #2 - Criminal Justice

When playing cops and robbers as a kid, were you always the cop? Well, if you want to earn a degree that employers are after, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice may be for you. According to the Georgetown report, grads with some experience had an unemployment rate of just 4.1 percent, while recent grads had a rate of 7.6 percent.

Until crime slows down, it's likely that the demand for public safety will lead to new openings for officers in local departments, notes the U.S Department of Labor. And while a degree is not always required to pursue a career as a police officer, many agencies do require some college work or a degree.

And Heathfield can see why. "Because many of the crimes these days are things like identity theft, or data theft from a company, it requires a more educated workforce. The field is changing with the times," she says.

Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program Now.

What You'll Learn: According to the College Board, criminal justice is an interdisciplinary degree, so students study a range of subjects. They include psychology, sociology, law, public administration, and more. You'll also delve into every aspect of crime and the justice system.

Degree #3 - Accounting

Another degree to consider if you've got your eye on employment: a bachelor's degree in accounting. According to the Georgetown report, the unemployment rate for recent grads was just 4.8 percent, while experienced grads had an unemployment rate of 6.8 percent - still well below the national average.

An increased focus on accounting because of the scandals and crises, says the U.S. Department of Labor, will lead to a demand for accountants. That's good news for those thinking about going back to school for a bachelor's degree in accounting.

"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," according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Heathfield agrees, noting that many people lack math skills. "That's why people with degrees in this field are going to be highly employable," she says.

Click to Find the Right Accounting Program Now.

What You'll Learn: According to the College Board, accounting majors study how to collect, analyze, record, and interpret information about an individual's or corporation's financial performance and risk. In other words, you'll study everything from balance sheets to tax law.

Degree #4 - Marketing and Communications

Are you a social [media] butterfly who's looking for a degree that could get employers' attention? You might want to think about earning a degree in marketing and communications.

Why? Looking at numbers from the Georgetown report, the degree is trending, baby! In fact, it found that experienced grads in this area had a low unemployment rate of just 6 percent, with recent grads at a 7.3 percent rate.

Heathfield says "...things like social media is what companies want knowledge in. It's the fastest growing part of marketing and people with knowledge about social media will be in great demand."

She adds that market researchers, many of whom have a bachelor's degree in market research and communications, will also be in demand. "So I see social media experts, market research analysts, and survey researchers holding hands and leading us into the future," says Healthfield.

Click to Find the Right Marketing and Communications Program Now.

What You'll Learn: According to the College Board, marketing majors learn how to create and sell new products and services in ways that build a large, loyal group of customers. As a marketing student, you'll study things like consumer behavior, international markets, and promotions.

Degree #5 - Information Technology (IT)

When a tech company like Apple is the most valuable company in the world, it probably comes to no surprise that an information technology degree is hot among employers.

How hot? According to the Georgetown report, experienced IT grads had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, while recent grads had a less welcoming 11.4 percent unemployment rate.

"This segment of the economy is going to continue to boom," says Healthfield. She adds that IT grads who keep up with trends - like mobile communications, tabs and smartphone apps, and cloud computing - could enjoy low unemployment for a very long time. "Employers are looking for people knowledgeable in these fields like crazy, and they're hard to find," says Healthfield.

For those looking to pursue a bachelor's degree in information technology (IT), that has to be encouraging.

Click to Find the Right IT Program Now.

What You'll Learn: According to the College Board, as an IT major you'll likely study the different ways computers support business, research, and communications needs. Coursework may range from the basics of computer hardware to the intricacies of the relationships between humans and computers.

*All unemployment rates of graduates in each field come from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce's report entitled "Hard Times," which studied unemployment rates for college graduates between 2009 and 2010. All possible career, average salary, and job growth information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition.

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