For many job seekers, it should come as no surprise that nearly 37% of occupations require at least a bachelor's degree or some other form of postsecondary education. But with student loan debt now topping $1.52 trillion—an average of $32,731 per borrower—and the job market for recent grads shrinking, would-be college students are starting to question whether paying for a high-priced degree is really worth it.
According to a survey of 150 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers plan to hire 1.3% fewer graduates from the class of 2018 than they did the prior year—a difference of approximately 25,000 people, based on the number of students earning bachelor's degrees in 2018, per the National Center for Education Statistics. Two of the industries hit the hardest: insurance companies—which reported a 42% cutback in hiring due to a year of heavy losses following hurricanes and wildfires across the country—and retail companies—which are scaling back hiring by 33%, likely due to the shift toward ecommerce and the dominance of Amazon.
If these industries aren't holding any promise for students, which ones do? The job search website CareerCast recently came up with a forecast of the 10 best college degrees for students based on job demand in 2018 using statistics from the BLS and trends from NACE and the Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce.
The 10 Best Degrees for Finding a Job After College
If you're graduating with one of the following 10 degrees, you're likely to graduate into a healthy job market, says CareerCast.
- Accounting: The BLS expects demand for accountants to increase by 10% over the next eight years. Already, recent graduates with an accounting degree have an employment rate of 90%.
- Business Management: The skill set developed through business management caters to such a broad range of industries that recent graduates with this degree are likely to find themselves qualified for several in-demand positions.
- Chemistry: Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry are likely going to need to pursue further education to land their desired job. But an undergraduate diploma coupled with a graduate degree could qualify you for some of the highest-paying jobs in the country, including physician, pharmacy manager or pharmacist.
- Computer Science: Tech jobs were more in demand in 2018 than any other industry. A degree in computer science will qualify you to pursue one of the many careers in this coveted space.
- Finance: Jobs for financial analysts have a growth outlook of 11% in the coming years, and demand for personal financial advisors is expected to grow by 15%.
- Information Systems: As with computer science degrees, a degree in information systems would prepare you for a long career in the tech industry. As businesses continue to embrace big data, this degree is likely to hold its value for decades to come.
- Marketing and Market Research: The way we communicate is changing rapidly. While this trend poses a risk to some careers, businesses will always value people who know how to reach their target market. It's no wonder the current employment rate for recent marketing and market research graduates is 94%.
- Mathematics: Similar to business management, a degree in mathematics provides you with a broad set of skills that’s crucial to many different careers, such as data science or analysis.
- Mechanical Engineering: Engineering degrees can lead you into several different industries, including construction, production or the automotive industry. A bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering can help land you an entry-level position, and if you choose to pursue a graduate degree, you could potentially reach even higher levels of pay.
- Nursing: Demand for nurses is not likely going away in our lifetime. According to figures from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, over 1 million nurses from the Baby Boomer generation will retire over the next two decades, meaning between retirements and new opportunities, there will be 1.6 million new job openings for nurses through 2020.