Some Majors More Confident About Job Prospects

Business majors most optimistic, health care and STEM majors have best long-term outlook
College students in a classroom

Business and STEM grads rule when it comes to optimism about their odds of finding a job postgraduation.

While upcoming graduates in general expect to find a job in a relatively short period of time after graduation, those with certain majors are markedly more optimistic about their prospects than others, according to findings from the Cengage Student Opportunity Index. Cengage, an education solutions provider, established the Index to determine and measure the opportunities as well as the challenges faced by new graduates. To do so, they surveyed 2,500 new and upcoming graduates and also looked at existing public data.

Students who majored in business were the most confident they would be able to land a job, with 97% expecting to be working in their field. On the opposite end of the spectrum, students of humanities and social sciences were the least confident, with 86% expecting to find a job in their area of study. The humanities and social sciences students’ lower expectations may be well founded as less than half of those graduates (46%) are actually working in their field, the Index found. In comparison, health care graduates were most likely to be working in their field of study, with 69% reporting jobs in their industry.

When it comes to long-term career growth, health care and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students see the most opportunity. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents in both of those fields (92%) said they believe the number of jobs in their field will increase in the next two years. Ninety percent of business and bio sciences students think there will be more job prospects in their field in the next two years. Among humanities and social sciences students, only 77% believed employment opportunities will increase in that period of time.

Business grads most likely to have solid career growth trajectory

Not all graduates are motivated primarily by money when it comes to career choices. For example, graduates who majored in health care and those who majored in humanities and social sciences were more likely to believe their job was making a difference. However, the Index found that they were also the graduates least likely to have a job with plenty of growth opportunities.

Business graduates, on the other hand, were more likely to have jobs with growth opportunities, as well as jobs that offer work-life balance, but they were less likely to have jobs that they believed made a difference in the world.

When it comes to cold hard cash, just over half (51%) of humanities and social sciences majors expect to meet their salary expectations after graduation, compared with 75% of STEM majors who believe they will secure the salary they want.

Having an idea of what you can expect to make once you graduate and enter the workforce can help you determine the type of lifestyle you’ll be able to afford. Rather than guessing and taking the chance of setting salary expectations too high, do some research by checking online salary calculators to get an idea of what entry-level employees are making in your industry and in your city. You might also ask others who are more advanced in your industry to share their insights on what you should expect in terms of job prospects and how you can better gauge your financial worth at work.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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