College majors and employment.
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13-06-2013, 07:44 AM
College majors and employment.

Don't know if anyone is preparing to enter college or seriously considering a major, but these are the best and worst for employment afterwards. And that is intended to be the crux here, this doesn't mean not to study some of these fields, just not as your primary focus.


Degrees With High Unemployment

Degree #1 - Fine Arts

Do you have a gift for artistic expression? By all means, follow your muse. Just seriously think about if you want to follow it into a fine arts degree program. According to the Georgetown study, employment rates for recent fine arts graduates are at a staggering 12.6 percent.

Part of the reason for this rate, Heathfield suggests, is cyclical: "When times are tough economically, people don't spend a lot of money or time on fine arts," she says. "Also, government funding has tanked in recent years, so fine arts are becoming more and more dependent on individual donations." And if donations to the arts are no longer tax deductible, she notes, it will be a huge blow to fine artists.

Degree #2 - Philosophy and Religious Studies

Do you find yourself drawn to life's big questions? Devoting your life to philosophy or religion is a noble aim - just make sure you go into it with realistic expectations, since it might be harder to find a job than you hope. According to the Georgetown report, 10.8 percent of recent philosophy and religious studies graduates are unemployed.

Heathfield attributes the high unemployment of religious studies graduates to recent statistics that suggest the practice of religion in the U.S. is going down. "Fewer and fewer churches need pastors," Heathfield notes. "And what do you do with a degree in philosophy if you don't teach in a college? They're very nice degrees, and people learn a lot in subjects they love - but they don't necessarily lead to jobs," she says.

Degree #3 - Film, Video, and Photographic Arts

Maybe you have an eye for capturing the beauty - or hard truth - of the world around us. But before you decide to embrace photography or film production as your life's work, you might want to consider some numbers. The Georgetown report notes that 12.9 percent of recent film, video, and photographic arts majors are unemployed. And the numbers are even worse for graduate degree holders - 13 percent face unemployment.

The changing role of print media could be partly to blame, according to Heathfield. "Traditionally, in the photographic arts, people made money in print publications," Heathfield says. But with the decline of print magazines, she says, the opportunities for photographers to make a living this way are declining. "But the online world is bringing new and different opportunities to people," she adds. "You have to have some talent, and you also have to be really up to speed on the technology, but there are some exciting new possibilities."

Degree #4 - Information Systems

You might be surprised to see this particular degree on our list of the most unemployable degrees. But according to the Georgetown study, 11.7 percent of information systems graduates are unemployed. But don't get discouraged yet - Heathfield has a slightly rosier outlook.

"I disagree with Georgetown on this one," Heathfield says. "Information systems people survey and purchase all computer equipment for a company. They also makes sure employees are up to speed, connected, and trained. I think they'll become more in demand as more employees start working from home."

Degrees With Low Unemployment:

Degree #1 - Nursing

We've told you about the degrees that have the highest rates of unemployment. But here's the bright side at the other end of the spectrum: degrees with the lowest rates of unemployment. And if your calling is to help people, you might want to consider earning your degree in nursing. According to the Georgetown report, the unemployment rate among recent nursing grads is only 4 percent.

As Heathfield notes, you can't outsource face-to-face health care. "It's very difficult to substitute a machine for bedside care," Heathfield says. "I really see hands-on jobs in health care booming - people who work with patients will be highly employable."

NEXT STEP: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Potential Career Path: Registered Nurse (RN)**
Median annual salary for RNs: $65,470
Projected job growth from 2010-2020: 26 percent, or 711,900 new jobs

Degree #2 - Elementary Education

Are you inspired to share your knowledge and help shape the next generation of citizens? Teaching is one field with a promising future, according to the Georgetown report, with an unemployment rate of only 4.8 percent for recent elementary education grads.

Heathfield acknowledges that this is a challenging field, especially for people living in larger cities. But, she says, "If you're willing to go where the jobs are - there are jobs."

NEXT STEP: Click to Find the Right Elementary Education Program.

Potential Career Path: Elementary School Teacher**
Median annual salary for elementary school teachers: $53,400
Projected job growth from 2010-2020: 17 percent, or 248,800 new jobs

Degree #3 - Finance

Do you have a natural talent for knowing what to do with money? Consider majoring in finance so you can help others who might need some good financial advice for the road ahead. And in the process, you might help secure your own future. According to the Georgetown report, only 6.6 percent of recent finance grads face unemployment.

Heathfield agrees. "I think finance is a good field," she says. "There are lots of entrepreneurial opportunities for personal financial consulting and planning. Now that the baby boomers are aging, many of them are seeking help with what to do with meager or major funds."

NEXT STEP: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.

Potential Career Path: Personal Financial Advisor**
Median annual salary for personal financial advisors: $67,520
Projected job growth from 2010-2020: 32 percent, or 66,400 new jobs

Degree #4 - Communications

Can you explain complex ideas in simple, easy-to-understand language? Consider majoring in communications. According to the Georgetown report, the unemployment rate for recent communications grads is only 7.4 percent, lower than the average for all recent grads.

According to Heathfield, there are a variety of opportunities out there for these degree-holders. "There are certain branches of communications that are really positive right now," Heathfield says. "Like helping companies establish a social media presence. Also technical writing [and] technical communication will continue to be a good area, especially if you combine it with video skills."

NEXT STEP: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

Potential Career Path: Technical Writer**
Median annual salary for technical writers: $65,500
Projected job growth from 2010-2020: 17 percent, or 8,500 new jobs
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13-06-2013, 09:18 AM (This post was last modified: 13-06-2013 06:02 PM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: College majors and employment.
I've seen recent lists with anthropology in the number one spot. This is because a basic bachelors only introduces you to the four "holistic" sub-fields of archaeology, biology, culture, and linguistics. You can choose to focus on a particular area, but you won't get any experience in that focus unless you go onto grad school. Anthropology is more for people wanting to get a higher degree.
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13-06-2013, 09:20 AM
RE: College majors and employment.
I assume that IS does not include software engineering. I know some IT/IS guys who have been layed off a month at a time, but I've yet to meet an unemployed software developer and coding boards have strict anti-recruitment policies, just from the sheer volume of staffers trying to pick up devs, it's safe to assume most groups don't have this kind of security as to brush off potential employers.

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13-06-2013, 09:45 AM (This post was last modified: 13-06-2013 11:57 AM by JAH.)
RE: College majors and employment.
I saw a recent similar article in the local paper. Since I am retired and it was meaningless for me I did not read it.

One question I would have is did they consider all employment or only employment in the field studied.

My two sons for example have degrees in history or forest management (or some such I have forgotten now). They work respectively as a software designer or managing a record store and music distribution. Would both of them not count as being employed in their field of study and therefore not count on the positive side of getting a college degree in those disciplines.

The fine arts thing is also suspect. All of us well out of college know people with fine arts degrees that kicked around trying to sell their stuff while making ends meet waiting tables or bartending or some such. If they started selling stuff or got a job at a museum OK they stuck with it, if not they found another career path. Not that I am advocating fine arts degrees. There are more than one for profit art schools in the area I live and I know they are for the most part scams attracting people who can get student loans.
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13-06-2013, 11:12 AM
RE: College majors and employment.
Note - the delta for unemployment there is from 7.4% to 13%. Hardly massive. In-field employment would perhaps be a more useful figure.

That said, if you're picking a major based on job prospects, you're doing it wrong. Higher learning is supposed to be about learning.
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13-06-2013, 06:43 PM
RE: College majors and employment.
I'm a middle school teacher and while not flashy, education is stable and rewarding. Love my job and love teaching children about the ancient world. But it is not for everyone. Despite paying for a college degree in education, teaching is not something you learn in the classroom. I firmly believe it is something you can either do or not. It requires confidence, a bit of ego, and the ability to command your environment. Loud personalities do well in teaching. Just my two cents and adviceSmile
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13-06-2013, 08:30 PM
RE: College majors and employment.
Phew! I'm glad Psychology isn't one of them! Big Grin

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13-06-2013, 10:21 PM
RE: College majors and employment.
No surprises there.

Nurses are constantly in such high demand that you're practically guaranteed a job after graduation.
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14-06-2013, 08:08 PM
RE: College majors and employment.
I know a guy who has a B.S. in mathematics and has been looking for a job for 14 months. He asked me about going to law school, I have done work for the BAR association, and I let him know of many people with law degrees that also can't find jobs. I'm a programmer and also still talk with many I have know over the years and some have lost their jobs and a few have found new ones. So part of what we are seeing is economics and part is technology.

Greetings carbon-based bipeds. - Arthur Clarke
The stars died so you could be here today. - Lawrence Krauss
Mathematics is the language of nature. - Lawrence Krauss
I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature's loveliness. - John Muir
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