Career Prospects of Some of the Most Popular Majors
For prospective college students, choosing a major is an important step to their future career’s course of action. Interestingly, some of the most popular majors also happen to have some of the highest unemployment rates. Majoring in an area you are passionate about may be key to job satisfaction but depending on your chosen field, job opportunities may or may not be readily available. The following are five of the most popular college majors for today’s student population. Read on to find out what you can expect from each in the life after college we know as the “real world.”
According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, education represents nearly a quarter of the list of most employable majors. However, “education” encompasses a large number of specialty areas such as special education, multicultural education, elementary and secondary education. Early childhood development especially enjoys popularity among female students having a 97 percent female to 3 percent male ratio of students.
The specialty areas listed as having the lowest unemployment rates are elementary education, special needs education and PE/health education. Those who choose to pursue a master of arts in teaching are in good company. Eighty-nine percent of students with a major in educational administration and supervision obtain a graduate degree.
The most popular major in the U.S., business management and administration, also happens to have a good career outlook. Business majors landed on the top five list of types of majors employers are looking to hire, according to the National Association of College and Employers’ Job Outlook survey of 2011, with accounting and finance majors taking the top two slots.
However, even though business majors have a very good possibility of employment post-college, the level of income is something to think about. The median income of a business management and administration major is $58,000 while for general business majors it’s $60,000. Depending on factors such as cost of living and outstanding student loans, this may not be as high a salary as a new grad might think.
Nursing majors enjoy extremely low unemployment rates (2.2 percent), with only one other major – medical technology technicians – edging them out for the top spot with the lowest rate (1.4 percent). Some recent nursing grads have experienced difficulty finding work due to veteran nurses waiting longer periods of time to retire and due to hiring freezes. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for nursing majors, especially those with a BSN.
Students who are unable to attend traditional colleges are increasingly opting for RN to BSN online programs. These programs offer flexibility and the opportunity for RNs to increase their employability with an increase in their education.
Psychology is the fifth most popular major in the U.S., behind business management and administration, general business, accounting and nursing. Ironically, it also happens to be the major with the highest unemployment rates. Clinical psychology topped the list of 25 majors with the most notable unemployment rates with a rate of 19.5 percent: that is well over double that of the national unemployment rate. Other psychology areas that landed on the list included educational psychology, social psychology, industrial and organizational psychology as well as “miscellaneous psychology,” which can cover a hodgepodge of other avenues.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t end there. Psychology majors who are lucky enough to obtain employment do not necessarily earn high salaries. In fact, counseling psychology is at the top of the list of lowest paying majors with a median salary of $29,000. However, there is hope for psychology majors who look beyond the field of psychology for employment. There are a variety of career fields psychology majors are qualified for such as research, education and advertising.
Engineering actually didn’t make the top ten of most popular majors, but, it should have. Engineering majors not only enjoy zero percent unemployment rates – that’s right, zero – but also some of the highest median salaries. Petroleum engineering has a median salary of $120,000 while geological and geophysical engineering have a zero percent unemployment rate. Other engineering majors including aerospace, chemical, electrical, marine, mechanical, metallurgical, mining and mineral engineering all have median salaries upwards of $80,000.
Choosing a major has a direct impact on career and potential earnings so it’s important to choose wisely and carefully. The most popular majors are not always the best paying, but there are great prospects available for students willing to seek them.