It’s never too early to explore career options. Going to a children’s museum to play farmer, astronaut, fireman, or teacher is a great way to start. However, as a teenager, you might resist attending that family outing (while secretly wishing you could go with your friends).
So, before completing any career assessments or having informal conversations with industry professionals, take a few moments to research the career data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And ask yourself a question: what would you enjoy doing for 2,000+ hours a year?
There are around 300 occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree for employment. So, you’ll have plenty of options to consider. There are only 14 declining occupations that require a 4-year degree including computer programmers, reporters and editors.
The good news is that there are over 100 occupations with an excellent future based on percentage job growth. So, among the first things to consider when researching your career options are median salary (after 10 years on the job, the average is $77,000), number of annual job openings (it varies between 300 and 200,000) and the required time to earn your degree (4-11 years).
Ultimately, your goal is to earn a degree in a growing occupation that will provide a competitive salary, challenge you, and allow you to contribute to society. And you should have fun too!
A bachelor’s degree takes four-years or less to complete. There are 56 bachelor’s degrees that are considered to be growing faster than average. This means that the occupation has a projected growth between 10% - 37% over the next decade.
With a median salary of $100,080 per year, applications software development is the fourth fastest growing career. At 30.5%, it has the largest projected growth for graduates with a bachelor’s degree.
There are over 85,000 projected job openings per year for applications software developers, second only to registered nurses. Job titles may include Computer Applications Developer / Engineer, Database Developer, or Software Applications Architect / Designer / Engineer.
Information security analysts has a projected growth of 28.4% and Operations research analysts is projected to have the third largest growth at 27.4%
Low but steady growth is projected for 13 occupations including civil engineers (10.6%), technical writers (10.9%), software developers, systems software (10.8%), and financial analysts (10.8%).
In reviewing the data from all 800+ occupations (including those that don’t require a college degree) the one thing that stood out to me was the number of declining professions that require a master’s degree. Zero. Depending on the occupation, you’d only need an extra year or two in graduate school to secure a better job outlook. More education provides more options.
If you think you might be interested in pursuing a graduate degree, know that the top three occupations projected to grow over the next decade might be good fits for those who enjoy math and science.
Nurse practitioners have been among the fastest growing occupations for the past six years. Currently, the projected growth is 36% over the next decade. Nurse practitioners have 14,000 annual job openings and enjoy a median salary of over $101,000.
Surpassing them with a 37.4% projected growth are physician assistants. They may work as an assistant in anesthesiology, family practice, pediatrics or radiology. This health science occupation also has a median salary of $101,000 with about 11,000 annual job openings.
For those who enjoy playing with numbers and formulas, you might enjoy becoming a statistician. Statisticians work in government research, biology labs, large corporations, with environmentalists, and in professional sports. This career has a projected growth of 33.4% (about 4,000 jobs a year) and median salary of $81,000.
Low but steady growth is projected for urban and regional planners (12.8%) and school counselors (11.3%).
DOCTORAL / PROFESSIONAL
The health professions that require the most education (up to 7 additional years after earning your bachelor’s) and have the greatest growth projection are postsecondary health specialties professors in clinical sciences, dentistry, neurology, physical therapy (25.9% growth), physical therapists (25%), postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers (24%), and audiologists (20.4%).
Even though additional education (consider the cost!) is required, the top five fastest growing occupations have a median salary of $84,000. Students need to research all of their options to determine how much and how long they are willing to learn.
Pharmacists have a 5.6% projected career growth. The three occupations with the lowest projected growth are appointed or elected positions as judges.
Now that you’ve considered these numbers, pray about your higher calling, complete a reliable career assessment, and start researching your top three career options using O*Net OnLine and the Occupational Outlook Handbook to discover a career that is right for you.
(And its okay if you want to visit the children's museum.)
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.