Thinking about going back to college? Well, a lot has changed since you left the scene. New careers and college majors have emerged. And the interrelations between the two have become more complicated.
Consider Brian, for example. He didn’t have the financial support to attend college when he was 18. So, he took a job at a fast food chain.
When he had some money, Brian started a small online business. Seven years later, he owns a successful dropshipping site.
However, this was not what Brian always wanted to do with his life. He loved computers and wanted to study something in that field.
Today, Brian has the money and time. He is trying to decide between cybersecurity and software engineering.
Are you in a similar situation as Brian?
Here’s a guide that can help you review the current situation of college majors and careers. Take some time to make the right choice so you don’t regret anything later.
Understanding Major and Career
College majors and careers are closely related. However, don’t think your career will easily fall in pace with your college major. That would take proper planning from the very beginning.
Your first step will be to review the present market for college majors and careers. This is especially important for adult students who are getting back into the college scenario.
With the rapid advancement of the modern world, there are now numerous exciting new career opportunities. Meanwhile, many old professions are on the decline.
So, take a look at these ten most high-demand majors and their career prospects—
|You will study everything related to obtaining crude oils and natural gas
|A student is required to study for four years to obtain the degree. Apart from the basic subjects, there will be a special focus on fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, reservoir engineering, drilling engineering, and petroleum economics
|You can work as a petroleum engineer at oil and gas companies. After gaining experience, you can start your own firm and consultancy business.
|$65,000 and $150,000
|You will be trained to protect information systems and networks from hackers.
|Four years B.S. You will mostly study and prove your competence in programming, cryptography, network security, digital forensics, ethical hacking, and cyber law.
|You can work as a cybersecurity professional/expert in various organizations- banks, hospitals, military institutions, corporate giants, etc.
|$94,742 a year. Many freelancers make more than this from high hourly rates.
|After completing the course, you will have all the necessary tools to funnel public attention towards a business. Consequently, you will be creating clients for them.
|Students are required to study the Principles, Consumer Behavior,Marketing Research and Analysis,Advertising, and Promotion,Digital Marketing,Brand Management, etcduring the four-year course.
|There are a wide range of career options for a marketing expert. For instance, you can work as a Digital Marketer, Brand Manager, or Product Manager. You can also conduct research for big companies.
|The top income for a salary-based marketing job can be $98000/year. Entrepreneurs can earn more. For instance, average Digital Marketing Agencies bring $250,000-$300,000 in revenues.
|An accounting course will teach you how to analyze financial information for tax, audits, budgets, and other purposes
|The course requires you to study principles, accounting theory, financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, and other relevant subjects.
|You can find work as an accountant or auditor in government organizations or business corporations.
|The average salary for new accountants can be in the range of $50,000-$65,000/year. Experienced workers can earn around $90,000.
|You will learn about patient care and various basic medical procedures during a nursing course.
|Nursing students study anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and other relevant medical subjects. After completing the studies, you will sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse
|Registered nurses can find work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and similar facilities. You can train and study further to specialize in a medical field.
|Registered nurses make around $90,000/year.
|The course teaches you how to develop, improve, and maintain software systems and applications.
|During the four-year course, you will prove your competency in mathematics, computer science, and programming, data structures, algorithms, software design, software testing, etc.
|A software engineer can find work as a software developer, manager, or architect in a wide range of organizations. Plus, they are in high demand in freelance marketplaces.
|The average salary for software engineers is $117,848/year.
|You will learn how to combine finance and technology to develop Fintech products and services (For example, mobile banking, digital payment, etc).
|A fintech major studies mathematics, statistics, computer science, programming, finance, accounting, economics, and business during the 4-year course
|You can find jobs at fintech startups, banks, & financial institutions, and consulting firms. The roles include fintech developer, fintech analyst, consultant, manager, etc.
|Jobs in Fintech can pay as much as $130,000/year. Even entry-level starts from $90,000.
|You will learn how to design and develop aircraft, spacecraft, rockets, satellites, and missiles.
|As an aerospace engineering major, you will take courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, flight mechanics, propulsion, control, and aerospace design.
|After graduating, you can find jobs at aerospace companies, government agencies, military, research institutions, or educational institutions.
|Aerospace Engineers make around $140,000/year. Senior engineers make more than that.
|Majoring in pre-law shall prepare you for law school and a career in the legal profession.
|Pre-law majors study English, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, psychology, economics, and ethics during their four-year course.
|After completing the major, you can pursue a three-year law degree. You can then sit for the bar exam and become a full-time lawyer.
|Pre-law majors make an average annual salary of $60,000.
|You will learn about the management of hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, casinos, cruise lines, theme parks, and events.
|During the four-year study, you will take courses in hospitality operations, hospitality finance, marketing, hospitality law, human resources, hospitality leadership, and hospitality strategy.
|You can find a job as a manager at high-end hotels, restaurants, cruises, and others.
|A hospitality manager might make around $60,000/year. However, the career options for this major are diverse, and many companies will pay managers way more than this salary.
4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Major
You probably have an idea about the options available when choosing a college major. However, just because a major leads to a lucrative career doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Remember, you will study this for four years and pour your heart into this subject. Therefore, it’s important to choose wisely.
1. Interest and Goals
According to Education Data, 32.9% of students do not complete their graduation. They abandon their college majors at various points of the course.
One of the main reasons behind these dropouts is that the student loses interest in their major and lacks the motivation to continue (Source:Frontiers).
That means the time and money they had spent up until now have gone to waste.
Plus, there is the personal disappointment of not being able to finish what you started. So, the major you choose properly must align with your interests and goals.
For instance, your goal might be to make more than $100,000/year. So, you looked at the table above and chose software engineering.
However, you hate mathematics. Plus, you find it soul-crushing to sit in front of a screen for long hours and write code.
Or maybe you think nursing is cool. But are you patient enough to make it through the vast syllabus of medical science? More importantly, are you prepared to sacrifice many nights’ sleep to attend to emergencies?
So, you must review what a college major requires before getting into it. A career might pay less, but you will be happy and satisfied if you are doing what you love.
Plus, passionate and eager workers eventually start making handsome salaries.
Defining interests and goals might be difficult for students in their late teens or early twenties. However, older students shouldn’t have that problem since they have figured out much about their person.
2. Pre-Professional and General Major
It’s important to understand the implications of choosing a pre-professional vs. general college major.
Pre-professionals, such as pre-med or pre-law, prepare you for a specific profession. You must plan to pursue a professional degree after completing the pre-professional degree.
Those who are determined to become a doctor or a lawyer can choose a pre-professional major. However, it also means that you are narrowing your possibilities to a single field.
So, only go for pre-professional majors if you are ready to be in this field for the long haul.
In contrast, general majors include a broad range of disciplines. Liberal arts, humanities and natural sciences are some of the popular general majors.
It’s an ideal choice for those who don’t have a specific profession in mind. For instance, you might have thought you wanted to pursue a career in the field of arts but haven’t decided on a specific career.
In this case, studying liberal arts will keep your possibilities open.
However, you won’t develop any specialized knowledge or skills that various employers require. So, it might be harder for you to find a job as a fresh graduate compared to those with professional degrees.
3. Present and Future Demand
There isn’t any point in getting into a college major whose demand is declining.
Now, you might find this one somewhat contradictory to the first point. For instance, your interest might be in a subject that doesn’t have any speculated growth in the coming years.
In this case, you can try to pick a major that has newly developed from the declining subject you were interested in.
You can use online resources to find out the highest-paying careers and majors. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor, etc can be helpful. If you don’t want the trouble, look at the table we made for you.
Another way to pick a rewarding major is to discover the subjects students regret studying.
According to a report on CNBC, a ZipRecruiter survey found that graduates from Journalism, Sociology, Communications, and English literature regret their majors the most.
Meanwhile, Computer Science, IT, Finance, and Nursing students were comparatively happier with their degrees.
4. Score, Finance, Institutions
Your SAT, ACT, or TOEFL scores play a significant role in getting into colleges. High school results and extra-curricular activities are also important for admission to top institutions.
The highly selective schools require an SAT score of 1200-1400 for admission.
However, things can be much easier if the top schools aren’t your target. Some colleges take in students with SAT scores as low as 400. You can also find colleges that don’t require SAT/ACT scores.
Fiance plays a huge role in determining whether or not you will be able to continue your education. Many students drop out in the middle due to poorly planned finances.
According to Education Data, public schools cost students $104,000-$108,000 over the four years. This figure doubles for the students of private universities. You must plan accordingly beforehand so that it doesn’t overwhelm you mid-way.
Lastly, the available institutions must offer the major you wish to pursue. Engineering, Finance, and Nursing are common majors, and many institutions offer them.
However, there are also unheard-of majors that not many colleges offer. For example, Comedy Writing, Bagpiping, etc.
4 Most In-Demand Majors and Their Career Prospects 2024
The table in our prior discussion can give you a fair idea of which college majors are in most demand. Still having trouble deciding between them?
We have picked four majors for you to help you narrow down the list.
A typical cyberattack can cost companies around 4.5 million dollars in losses. Plus, a breach of sensitive customer data can ruin a company’s reputation and destroy it forever.
Therefore, there is a high demand for Cybersecurity Experts in these companies (government/military/business).
According to Grand View Research, Cybersecurity is a 202 billion-dollar global market. It has a CAGR of 12.3% for the decade that lies ahead. An average Cybersecurity expert earns an hourly rate of $60.
Cybersecurity can be a great choice if you are interested in computers and programming. To be successful, you must develop strong programming skills and an advanced understanding of computer systems.
You should also keep on constantly updating yourself since it’s a rapidly changing field.
2. Software Engineering
This is another excellent career opportunity for those who love working with computers. Software engineers are the brains behind the applications we use on our devices.
It’s also worth mentioning that some of the richest people in the world were coders and developed products in this field.
You must have a knack for mathematics and programming to study this subject.
Top colleges would require high SAT scores in Maths and Analytical Problem Solving for admission. You should also be creative and innovative to develop new and useful applications.
The current market size for Software Engineering is 55.6 billion dollars. In the coming years, it will experience a CAGR of 8.7%. So, this is one of the best careers to get into in 2024.
During the pandemic years, the world discovered for a second time the convenience of digital financial services. The trend never stopped, and Fintech is now a 194 billion-dollar industry.
It’s expected to grow annually at a rate of 18.9 in the coming years.
Fintech is a combination of finance and tech. So, you need fair technical skills (C++, Java, Python) and an understanding of finance to do well in this subject. This is also a fast-changing field. Therefore, you should be willing to adapt accordingly.
4. Digital Marketing
Businesses need to catch the attention of consumers immersed in digital and social media platforms. And for that, they need the help of digital marketers.
For many emerging companies, digital marketing is the only form of marketing they prefer. Thus, the high demand for digital marketers.
There isn’t a shortage of marketing graduates. But how many of them are digital marketers? The number is still low compared to the high demand.
So, if you choose to be a marketing major, focus on becoming a digital marketer.
A digital marketer doesn’t need expert coding and technical skills like engineering majors. However, you still need to have a fair idea and experience.
You must understand the inner workings of search engines and social media trends to be successful in this field. Although they’re not content creation, a digital marketer must have a good grasp on short-form engaging video content.
The current market size of digital marketing is 363 billion dollars, with a 13% CAGR. It’s still a fairly new field, and the boundaries of a digital marketer’s job aren’t well-defined. This can be a challenge and an opportunity to be free and innovative.
Navigating the Crossroads – Choosing a Major or a Career?
Hopefully, you now understand how to align a major and career with your life goals and interests.
However, it also presents a dilemma. Should you choose a major for your career goals? Or, do you major first and see which career path it takes you?
Well, there are pros and cons to both.
Choosing a Major for Your Career Goal
Are you going back to college only to pursue a dream career? In that case, it’s only logical to put career first and college major second.
- Focus on career-specific skills and courses early on
- Clear career goal gives you more time to research, find, and prepare for your dream job. Therefore, better chances of getting hired
- It speaks to the employers about your commitment to the field
- You won’t have many options if you aren’t able to get into your dream career due to unforeseen consequences.
- Strictly pursuing a single goal over a long time can be stressful.
Choosing a Career Depending on Your College Major
There are many students who never had a specific career in mind. They just want to study an in-demand major that aligns with their interests. These students are okay with whatever career path their major leads to.
- You won’t have to deal with the stress of pursuing a single career and the heartbreak that comes if you can’t achieve it.
- Develop a wide range of skills that are not career-specific but still come in handy in other situations.
- Since you choose the major purely out of love for the subject, you will enjoy studying it more than someone who’s only going through it for a career.
- It will be harder for you to choose a career path after graduation as you don’t have specific goals.
- You might regret not developing career-specific skills during your college years.
Changing Your Major
Despite the negative thoughts surrounding it, switching majors is not a bad thing.
It is actually the opposite, as it means you have re-evaluated your skills and goals and you’re choosing a path that aligns with your needs more.
Whether it’s due to loss of interest in your current major, challenges with coursework, or a newfound desire for a different career path, changing majors is a crucial step that requires thoughtful decision-making.
These are the factors you need to consider when making the change —
Reasons for Changing
Before switching your major, ask yourself why you wanted to make the change in the first place.
Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of both your intended major and your current major, and then compare them to decide if switching is worthwhile.
Common causes include losing interest, finding it difficult to follow the course schedule, being unmotivated, and wanting to pursue a different job.
Your eligibility for financial aid and the time it takes to graduate may or may not change depending on your changed major. So, it’s vital that you consider the timing of when you switch majors.
Talk to your academic advisors and financial aid office about your desire to change majors and take heed of their advice and feedback.
Many students choose majors based solely on personal interests. This is a hasty decision that will increase the chances of wanting to switch majors later.
So, research the requirements for your new major and look through the specific prerequisites and additional coursework. Make sure you understand the skills that the major requires before making the switch.
When picking a new major, make sure it fits your job goals. Check which majors are in demand for the job you want. This helps you choose a major that not only fits what you like but also boosts your chances of getting a good job.
Explore the support available in your chosen major. Talk to your professors, advisors, and classmates for advice on classes and career paths.
Going to events and joining major-related clubs lets you learn more and make connections. These resources help you navigate your major and make your education richer.
It won’t be an overstatement to say your college major defines the rest of your life. You can live a dream by choosing your major wisely and pursuing a career accordingly.
We hope you learned enough from this guide to plan your college major and career. There’s a common area between your interests, goals, finances, and practical demands. Find that sweet spot, and you won’t have any trouble achieving success.
- Education and job match: The relatedness of college major and work- John Robst and Colleagues, February 2007
- The effects of college major and job field congruence on job satisfaction – Gregory C. Wolniak, Ernest T. Pascarella
- The Relationship between Choice of Major and Career, Experience of University and Attrition- Lesley Willcoxson Willcox and Monte Wynder
- Average Cost of College & Tuition by Melanie Hanson
- Top 200 Universities That Don’t Require SAT/ACT by Yocket Editorial Team
- The top 10 most-regretted college majors — and the degrees graduates wish they had pursued instead by Jessica Dickler
- Factors contributing to university dropout: a review- Oswaldo Lorenzo-Quiles, Samuel Galdón-López, Ana Lendínez-Turón.
- College Dropout Rates- Melanie Hanson