Growing Jobs That Need College Grads

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Earning the right bachelor's degree could be the key to qualifying for high-quality positions that need to be filled.

By Tony Moton

Are you a goal-oriented person? Do you have a need to achieve?

If you're a high achiever, now could be the right time to consider earning a college degree. In a 2012 report titled "A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education," the Lumina Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to helping improve the country's level of education attainment, states that the United States is lacking enough qualified workers to fill growing numbers of high-quality job openings.

Kathleen J. Cook, a general undergraduate academic advisor at Eastern Washington University, sees a bachelor's degree as the first step toward getting noticed by employers who are hiring for high-quality positions.

"Without a bachelor's degree in this world today, it's going to be hard to get an advanced job," Cook says. "It's getting to where you might not be able to work anywhere other than menial-type jobs without one."

Want to get noticed in the career world? Keep reading to learn about five growing occupations in need of educated professionals - and how you can prepare to pursue them.

Career #1 - Accountant

Do you take responsibility for balancing the family budget? Do you watch your spending down to the penny? If so, your interests might be right in line with the career responsibilities of an accountant.

Accountants help ensure the accuracy of financial records, compute and file taxes, and suggest ways for businesses to improve profits, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

Why They're Needed: The Department of Labor projects the field of accounting and auditing will grow by 16 percent between 2010 and 2020, an increase of 190,700 new positions.

This demand is happening for a number of reasons, the Department reports. Due to numerous corporate scandals and the recent financial crises, accountants are needed to help deal with stricter laws - especially in the financial sector.

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How to Fill the Need: According to the Department, most accountant positions require at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field.

And here's why: "The accountant does all the hard work," Cook says. "Without the degree, you won't be allowed to do the kind of work they do. You might be able to do all the busy work as a junior accountant or clerk, but you're not going to do the actual work of an accountant."

Career #2 - Human Resources Specialist

Are you a people person looking for a professional career? Well, one career that puts you in constant contact with people in a business setting is human resources specialist.

The U.S. Department of Labor says these specialists generally are responsible for recruiting, interviewing, and training new employees. They also might be heavily involved in other areas, such as employee relations and payroll.

Why They're Needed: According to the Department of Labor, human resources specialists could experience a 21 percent growth in employment from 2010 to 2020. The growth accounts for a total of 90,700 new hires.

Not only that, but the employment services industry will see an increase of 55 percent between 2010 and 2020 because companies are outsourcing more of their human resources work to other firms, notes the Department. About 17 percent of human resources specialists work for employment firms, thus creating a need for workers with their skills.

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How to Fill the Need: Most positions for a human resources specialist require applicants to have at least a bachelor's degree, says the Department. It also says that employers prefer candidates who studied human resources, business, or a related field.

And the need for degree holders is high, says Cook. "Every major company, and most small companies, has an HR department," she says, "but without a degree, you won't be able to work in that area. They have to be on top of laws, like sick leave and retirement, so an HR person has to be knowledgeable about everything pertaining to their employer and employees."

Career #3 - K-12 Teacher

Are you looking for a place to share knowledge with others? If so, you could lead young people of all ages along the path of education by pursuing a career as a teacher.

K-12 educators are responsible for planning lessons, evaluating students' learning capabilities, and making sure parents are informed about their child's progress, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

Why They're Needed: According to the Department of Labor, between 2010 and 2020 careers in kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teaching are projected to grow by 17 percent, while high school teachers could see 7 percent growth in the field. The Department projects that this growth could result in 461,700 new teaching jobs in K-12.

Cook adds that the need for teachers is also growing, in part, because "a lot of baby boomers out there are reaching retirement age, and the more they retire in droves, the more positions there are for others."

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How to Fill the Need: To work as a K-12 teacher in public schools, a bachelor's degree in education is required, as well as a state-issued certification or license, according to the Department.

"Plain and simple, without the bachelor's degree, you are not teaching," Cook says. "You can be a teaching assistant, but without the degree, you're not a teacher."

Career #4 - Software Developer

Do you have a keen interest in computers and want to know what makes them tick? Do you have an idea for a gaming application that could appeal to millions? If so, maybe there's a chance you could find a professional outlet as a software developer.

Software developers are responsible for creating computer programs and applications found in mobile devices such as tablets and phones, the U.S. Department of Labor says. Others might develop the operating systems that run these devices.

Why They're Needed: The Department of Labor projects a tremendous increase in new software developer jobs between 2010 and 2020, causing a 30 percent jump in overall growth. That's a total of 270,900 jobs added.

Talk about overnight sensations. The Department says the rapid increase in need for software applications is creating a serious demand for developers who can brainstorm new products in the area of mobile technology. The need for more cyber security products is also contributing to a boom in this profession.

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How to Fill the Need: So how do you get a shot at this fast-expanding career? The Department reports that software developers usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. The Department also reports that it helps if software developers have strong computer-programming and teamwork skills.

"[I]t takes five people to make one game," Cook says, referring to the number of developers it might require to put together a video game. "They need people who are up-to-date with programs, and because changes in the industry are happening overnight, you are not going to get these kinds of jobs without a degree."

Career #5 - Medical and Health Services Manager

Does a management-level position in the health care field appeal to you? Working as a medical and health services manager might fulfill your aspirations quite well.

When it comes to delivering health care services, administrators in this position might manage the finances of a facility or department, stay informed on laws governing health services, and supervise assistant administrators, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why They're Needed: Careers in medical and health services management, according to the Department of Labor, are expected to increase by 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, which could account for 68,000 new jobs over the ten-year period.

Part of this need is associated with the aging U.S. population, the Department reports. With more people in the baby-boom demographic requiring medical care, the health care industry as a whole will require more professionals to meet the demands of patient services.

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How to Fill the Need: If you're interested in pursuing this career, the Department says a bachelor's degree in health administration is the typical level of education for medical and health services managers, although a master's in public health, business administration, and health services is also common.

Cook believes a bachelor's degree in this field is imperative for workers who want to lead others. "Health care administrators are the ones who run the office," Cook says. "They make decisions for the office and they're the boss. These are the people that doctors hire to handle all the daily functions of the office. Years ago, doctors were more involved with administration, but not as much anymore."

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