Ask any recent college grad and they will confirm that life is rough out there for these youngsters. Employers are hiring cheaper labor, and finding employees with more experience than the grads fresh out of their graduation caps and gowns. While the Liberal Arts degree Joe College worked “hard” for may drop them smack dab in the middle of the pack with all the other struggling 20-somethings, there are some can’t miss majors that will really pay off in the long run.
Actuawhat-ial Mathematics?! Think Finance and Risk Insurance, and think “goodbye college debt!” A starting salary for an Actuary starts roughly at around $58,000 a year and grows rapidly with experience, topping out at around $115,000 average. Your typical day consists of analyzing statistical data like mortality, sickness, accidents, and even death. Fun stuff, I know. But this profession is hot and doesn’t show much slowing down with a 21.9% growth projection in the next decade. It certainly takes the right kind of person to bury their head in their TI-83 and calculate worst case scenarios for a living, but make no mistake, they are compensated kindly for their efforts.
The sky is the limit when it comes to this career path. Aerospace Engineer professionals are the masterminds behind some groundbreaking innovation and technology as they are responsible for airplane, spacecraft, satellite, and missile design. Give me that profession for an ice breaker any day of the week! With a median starting salary of around $65,000 you won’t remember how to spell Ramen Noodles.
Nursing is an age-old profession that is recession proof and, for better or worse, always going to be a necessary service. Another career that isn’t for everyone, Registered Nurses work long, stressful hours in some of the most high-pressured settings imaginable. That is why Nursing is referred to as a calling or vocation more than most jobs out there. But, if you love helping people, and don’t mind a little blood and guts, the life of a Nurse could be ideal. Nursing is also a desirable profession just about anywhere that is in close proximity to a hospital which narrows the job market down to…literally anywhere! Nurses are in high demand in areas of the country where seniors settle down for retirement, like coastal beaches and retirement communities in beautiful areas of the country. At a starting median salary of $56,600 and a 10-year growth rate of 15.5%, college students aren’t just eyeing scrubs and Crocs as fashion choices to wear to the dining hall.
Science and Technology combine with this cutting edge profession. With the creation of 3D printers and the utilization of technology in the field of science and medicine, Biomedical Engineers are looking at record growth in the next decade (25.7%). Think about creating the next smartphone app that could prevent or treat disease. Or maybe you are more mechanically inclined and hold the next valuable invention in prosthetics. This major could be your outlet to meld science and creativity and to make a difference in the world.
Even with the country’s recognition of cleaner energy, oil and natural gas are still top dog. Petroleum Engineers work together with a diverse group of professionals including chemists, contractors, and oil drilling companies to ensure safety and productivity in the field. Their day might consist of long hours in a lab and behind a computer, or they might venture to drilling sites to monitor their jobs hands on. As long as natural gas and oil remain at the top of the food chain, the ten year projection for job growth in the Petroleum Engineering field is 10%. And it’s tough to call the starting median salary of $101,000 “entry level” with a straight face.