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It’s that time of year when those four years of late night studying ( or cramming), early morning lectures and final exams have finally come to an end. It can be bitter sweet. One the one hand, all of your hard work is finally paying off and you will be rewarded with that four year degree that will get you into what will probably be your lifelong career. But then on the other hand, you will be tossed out into this world and left to fend for yourself. No more mom and dad paying your way or holding your hand. The bills will start, rent/mortgage, utilities, car notes, food, and most importantly, paying back those student loans that you have accumulated. Some of you may have been blessed with grants or scholarships or come from families that paid for your college expenses and may not have needed to take out any loans. But like most of us in this country, our education was funded through good ole student loans.

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So where do we go from here. Hopefully, you land that job that you’ve been so diligently working towards obtaining with that college degree you earned. And what does those prospective jobs look like for you. Let’s take a look at what the statistics are showing.

Hiring is supposed to increase 9.6%. Employers are expected to hire more new grads this year than they did last year, according to a new report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). That is up from earlier projections. In the Fall of 2014, employers said they expected to increase their college hiring by 8.3%. Backing up their projections, employers also reported that they had posted more jobs for the Class of 2015 than for the previous class.

What field of study is employers seeking to fill positions? Among the responding employers, new graduates with degrees in engineering, business and computer science are the most sought after. Companies that are looking for technology, engineering and computer skills are growing. Computer engineers, data analysts, physician assistants, software developers and petroleum engineers, to name a few, are expected to become more lucrative and the highest demand professions in the next 3 years, according to a USA TODAY analysis of workforce projections by Economic Modeling Specialists International, a division of CareerBuilder.

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The analysis shows 1.8 million new high skill jobs are expected to be created by 2017. This about a 6% increase from 2013. These jobs (high skill) which require at least a 4 year Bachelor degree, will account for 27% of all new jobs in the next 3 years. Out of all high-skill occupations expected to grow at least 5% by 2017, physician assistant positions are among the jobs with both the highest growth and wage prospects. Along with physician assistant, nurse practitioner jobs (with median wages of about $44/hr.) are expected to increase by at least 14% by 2017. This is due to the country’s millions of aging Baby Boomers who will need medical care and also due to the greater access to healthcare in the U.S. The other side of this is that the great need for healthcare professionals may make some medical jobs more competitive. Registered nurse positions, considered middle-skill jobs by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, may soon become a high-skill job. By 2017, there may be more than 230,000 new nursing positions, a 9% increase, but many will require a Bachelor degree. STEM jobs, those that require a mastery of sciences, technology, engineering or math skills, are overwhelmingly in high demand and will account for about 38% of all high-skill jobs created. These jobs are also typically among the highest paid.

Top High-Skill Occupations (Expected to add the most new jobs by 2017) and % of Change from 2013

  1. Post Secondary Teachers: 8%
  2. General and Operations Managers: 5%
  3. Elementary School Teachers (except special education): 7%
  4. Accountant and Auditors: 6%
  5. Software Developers (Applications): 11%
  6. Computer Systems Analysts: 11%
  7. Marketing Specialist and Research Analysts: 13%
  8. Management Analysts: 9%
  9. Middle School Teachers (except special and career technology education): 7%
  10. Software Developers (System Software): 9%

*Sources: Economic Modeling Specialists International, CareerBuilder Frank Pompa and MaryJo Webster, USA TODAY

According to a survey done by Michigan State University, there are 3 top industries that are hiring the most college graduates  in 2015. Explosive growth is taking place in the Information Services field. The most hiring is being done among telecommunication companies, motion pictures, broadcasting and publishing, which jumped by 51% over the last year. Google and Facebook continue to hire hundreds of grads in consistent numbers year over year. The second fastest growing category is Finance and Insurance. This category has made a significant turnaround after years of shrinkage and cutbacks big banks made when they slashed their mortgage units and cut back on their investment banking and derivative sections. Now banks are starting to make up for the cuts. The final category is Professional, Business and Scientific Services. This is a broad area that includes management consulting, accounting, law, engineering services and computer design and services.

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Employers were also asked about their hiring for the Class of 2016. Early indications are positive, with more than two thirds of employers saying they expect to increase and maintain current hiring levels for the Class of 2016. NACE’s official projections for the Class of 2016 will be released in November 2015.

High Demand By Degree

Bachelor degree grads are of the highest in demand. But regardless of degree level, hiring intentions for grads of business, engineering and computer and information sciences disciplines are the most in demand. At the doctorate level, engineering graduates prevail with math and sciences and computer and information services rounding out the top 3 fields in demand.

  • Top Business Degrees in Demand: Finance, Accounting, Business Administration/Management, Marketing, Logistics/Supply Chain
  • Top Engineering Degrees in Demand: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering
  • Top Computer and Information Sciences Degrees in Demand: Computer Science, Information Sciences and Systems, Software Applications
  • Top Math and Science Degrees in Demand: Mathematics/Statistics, Environmental Science, Chemical, Biology/Biological Sciences, Physics, Geology/Geological Science
  • Top Communications Degrees in Demand: Communication, Public Relations, Advertising, Journalism
  • Top Social Science Degrees in Demand: Economics, Psychology, Political Science/International Relations, Sociology, Social Work
  • Top Humanities Degrees in Demand: English Language and Literature, Liberal Arts/General Studies, History, Foreign Language and Literature, Philosophy

Fastest Growing Jobs By Degree (*will grow faster through 2022 than others that require the same level of education)

Master’s Degree

  1. Industrial-Organizational Psychologists: 53%
  2. Genetic Counselor: 41%
  3. Physician Assistant: 38%
  4. Post Secondary Health Specialties Teacher: 36%
  5. Marriage and Family Therapists: 29%

Bachelor’s Degree

  1. Translators and Interpreters: 46%
  2. Information Security Analysts: 37%
  3. Biomedical Engineer: 27%
  4. Event Planners: 33%
  5. Market Research Analysts: 32%

Associate Degree or Similiar Level of Training

  1. Veterinary Technician.: 52%
  2. Physical Therapist Assistant: 46%
  3. Ultrasound Technician: 44%
  4. Occupational Therapy Assistant: 43%
  5. Dental Hygienist: 38%

High School Graduates or Equivalency Required

  1. Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers: 49%
  2. Helpers- Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters: 45%
  3. Physical Therapist Aides: 43%
  4. Glazers: 42%
  5. Medical Secretaries: 41%

Where is Most of this Hiring Taking Place?

The hiring is varied throughout the United States. The four metros in Texas, three in Utah and three in the Pacific Northwest are expected to see significant job growth across the most high-skill occupations, creating nearly 260,000 jobs. America’s biggest cities, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago will generate jobs too, with more than 322,000 jobs total. Employers in the Northeast, is the largest group of either not hiring in the Spring or unsure of their Spring recruiting plans. The Western region has the largest decrease, but the most drop reflects a poor outlook of the information industry. The Southeast is also decreasing hiring plans. Almost one tenth of the survey respondents report plans to cut back on hiring.

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Now let’s talk about wages earned. Not all college graduates have great prospects. While the economy gained nearly 250,000 jobs in September, wage growth has remained flat and initial jobless claims are still at pre-recession levels. But studies show that it is still more financially beneficial to get a college degree (in most cases, but not all). Statistics show that the average difference between a high school graduate and a college graduate’s wages is $1 million (according to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce). STEM degrees, business and health fields pay, on average, much higher returns than degrees in education, arts and liberal arts. The average annual income of the 10 highest paying majors, except one, is in the engineering degree. The lowest paying majors list is more diverse. Education, studio arts, community organization and religious vocations are all represented. Early childhood education is #1.

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While a college major is very predicative of future earnings, the take away is not everyone should be an engineer. “Your major has a large effect on your ability to get a job and work your way up a career ladder,” said Anthony Carnevale, the center director and lead author of the report. “But a college major isn’t destiny”. Even the most “impractical” major can teach invaluable lessons about how to think and ultimately how to approach the world. Your major matters but so can ability, talent and passion. “The most lucrative majors are not necessarily the most common,” reports said. Grads who excel in less lucrative fields can easily earn more than their peers who graduate with a degree in a typically high-paying major (ie; on average, education majors are the lowest earners and engineer majors are the highest; the top 25% of education majors out earn the bottom 25% of engineer majors). While a college major can figure big in a student’s income, it does not necessarily dictate future earnings. The economic value of majors plays a role in student’s choice of major, but the student’s abilities, academic preparation, interests and values are also important.

In conclusion, an occupation’s inclusion on lists like these is not reason enough to decide to pursue it. One will still need to do your homework before choosing a career. You should look at labor market information, including employment projections, to find out your chances of getting a job when completing your training. But don’t rely on that alone when making a final choice. An occupation must be suitable for you based on your interests, values, aptitude, personality type and your feelings about the job duties and work environment.