Which College Majors are the Most in Demand?

As you consider enrolling in college, it is wise to consider which college majors are the most in demand. As you may already know, the healthcare and software industries are booming, but you may not realize that some of the best majors of 20 years ago are drying up in the 21st century. Jobs requiring business skills are increasing, especially for people with computer systems, network design and management skills. Employment for journalists, teachers and other liberal arts graduates is expected to grow quite slowly, and believe it or not, jobs for graduates with bachelor of science in engineering degrees are dwindling.

21st Century Job Outlook

In the 20th century, most parents wanted their children to be doctors, lawyers or chemical engineers. While doctors are near the top of the list of the most in-demand occupations, lawyers are getting closer to the bottom, and many chemical engineers are having a hard time finding employment. The most job growth by far is in the healthcare sector, and dentists, nurses, physicians and physician’s assistants are all in the top 10 fastest-growing occupations. The software industry has the second highest growth rate, although there are fewer job titles in this industry than in healthcare. For the most part, jobs in the software industry include developer and project manager positions, although there is some variation in the types of developer jobs available.

With a computer science degree, you can become an application developer, low-level programmer, Web developer, enterprise developer or game designer. A low-level programmer designs software at the operating system level, using Assembly language and C code to send instructions directly to the processor. These engineers are the ones who design Windows, iOS, Android and embedded systems for special hardware devices. Computer science is also consistently in the top two or three best master’s degrees to get. With a graduate degree in computer science, you can do advanced research or software development, and depending on your bachelor’s degree, you might be able to get an exciting job as a NASA engineer or cutting-edge researcher.

Best Degrees for the Money

As far as which degrees are the most cost-effective, the best choices are among the two-year degrees available from community colleges. The two best choices, again, are in healthcare and computer science. An associate’s degree in nursing, dental hygiene, physical therapy or Web design is a good choice that will saddle you with relatively little debt. You could continue studying for your bachelor’s degree while working in a clinic, hospital or design firm, and your work experience would help you land better jobs after college.

Other college majors in the most demand include management information systems, computer systems engineering, accounting, marketing, statistics, operations research and occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that helps people with physical and mental disabilities become productive members of society. Computer systems engineers are a cross between software developers and electrical engineers; they analyze business operations requirements and develop computer systems to meet existing needs. Operations research is a similar occupation, related to business, that doesn’t require engineering skills.

The best advice is to follow your passion, even if it’s a job with slow growth. However, if you’re not especially passionate about any particular job, you should choose the one you like most from the jobs with highest pay and employment growth. The college majors in the most demand reflect the economic outlook and job market for the next five to ten years.

For more information on college majors, please also see: When Is It Necessary to Declare a College Major?