Hot Majors Leading to Hot Careers
By Cheryl Fenton
The horizon is always changing in terms of which fields are hot and which are not. Good career path decisions begin by asking questions about your major, so it’s important for college-bound students and those already entrenched in higher education to navigate the process with patience and curiosity.
“Selecting a college major shouldn’t feel like a life sentence to a career. It’s the beginning of a student’s post-secondary education and career exploration,” says Tiffany Currie, Coordinator of College, Careers, and External Learning Opportunities at Revere High School. High school students should meet with an advisor, teacher, or mentor to help them identify academic skills and interests, and research different career paths.
Here’s what to consider when choosing a college major:
While the definition of “trend” suggests a fleeting moment, trends are great indications of where industries are headed. You’ll need to investigate the fastest growing occupations throughout the country, as you decide whether your main interests lie within these hot sectors. Just as it’s important to know where things are revving up, you should also consider what areas are slowing down. Certain lines of work are becoming less necessary as our world changes.
“Families can do footwork in researching growth and decline in various careers,” says Linda L. Buckley, Lead College Counselor at Arlington High School. “For example, trends show growth in the STEM fields such as health, engineering, computer software, mathematics, and science research.” She also notes decline in some hands-on careers, such as woodworking, leatherwork, and textiles. “In the end, what could be better than landing a job a young person loves and where he or she can earn a good living?”
Currie suggests exploring the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics to find the estimated future growth of certain fields of work in the next five to 10 years. Other resources for job paths and industry variables include careeronestop.org, vault.com, naviance.com, glassdoor.com, and buzzfile.com.
Just as hot trends can be exciting, your course work should also keep you on your toes. If you don’t like what you’re doing in class, chances are it won’t keep your attention for a career’s lifespan. “If a student doesn’t enjoy what they’re studying, they’ll lose interest in that subject and hurt their job prospects in the long run or find themselves in a job they don’t like very much,” explains Joseph Du Pont, Esq., Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Career Services at Boston College Career Center. It’s always a good idea to check out different courses to see what they entail and whether your interest is held.
Once you’ve narrowed down majors, consider testing the waters with an internship. “[Students] who have the opportunity to do an internship or conduct informational interviews in a specific field of interest will learn more about a career before declaring a major,” adds Currie.
Remember that some life skills learned translate through all industries, no matter your major. “Does the course work in that major help you cultivate the professional competencies that employers want, such as communication skills, team work, leadership, creativity, problem solving, and a global perspective? In an economy where employers need students to hit the ground running, they want you to have these skills at the outset,” Du Pont notes. “These skills endure and will be beneficial to you over the course of your professional life.”
Once you see where the growth is and where your passion lies, you’ll put yourself on the road to success.