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Top 15 College Majors for the Future
As industries evolve and the demand for certain jobs increases, some college majors promise especially rewarding career paths. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top 15 college majors that lead to the best job prospects. We’ve paid close attention to the demand for certain jobs across industries, basing our list on the fastest growing occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note that some of these professions require only a certificate or associate’s degree, while others call for a bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctoral degree. Let’s get started!
1. Wind Turbine Installation
Wind energy is a rapidly expanding field. In fact, wind turbine technician jobs are expected to grow by 61% over the next decade – the fastest growing profession in the U.S. Windtechs install, maintain, and repair wind turbines. They generally work outdoors, in confined spaces, and often at great heights. Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical school or community college, where they earn a certificate or associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is not required to enter this field.
Career: Wind Turbine Technician
2020 Median Pay: $56,230 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 61%
2. Solar Panel Installation
Another quickly growing field is solar energy. As more and more households turn to solar power as an alternate form of energy, the demand for solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is skyrocketing. These professionals assemble and maintain rooftop systems that convert sunlight into energy. By 2029, it’s expected that there will be 51% more solar panel installation jobs. PV installers learn their trade by taking courses at technical school or community college, while also receiving on-the-job training. A bachelor’s degree is not required to pursue this profession.
Career: Solar Photovoltaic Installer
2020 Median Pay: $46,470 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 51%
Nursing is one of the fastest-growing fields in the healthcare industry. Within the field of nursing, there are a wide range of career paths. With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing you could become a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or a specialized nurse in a number of areas. While the field of nursing as a whole is generally trending upward, nurse practitioner (NP) jobs in particular are quickly expanding. NPs serve as primary and specialty care providers, delivering advanced nursing services to patients. To become a nurse practitioner, you must obtain a B.S. in Nursing and complete an NP-focused advanced degree program.
Career: Nurse Practitioner
2020 Median Pay: $117,670 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 45%
Career: Registered Nurse
2020 Median Pay: $75,330 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 7%
Also see: Top nursing scholarships
4. Data Science, Statistics, and Mathematics
In today’s information-driven world, data science, statistics, and mathematics are extremely valuable fields of study. Across all industries, businesses are turning to data to predict consumer behavior, improve decision-making, and tweak marketing strategies. So it makes sense that there’s such a high demand for individuals who understand the science of data. These professionals, often referred to as data scientists, help companies make sense of information that can improve their business practices. Data science is a relatively new field of employment and is expected to expand rapidly. To become a data scientist, students typically major in data science or a related field such as mathematics, statistics, or computer science. A master’s degree is sometimes required, depending on the specific job position and employer.
2020 Median Pay: $93,290 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 33%
5. Healthcare Administration
Healthcare administrators work on the management side of healthcare. They ensure that hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes run efficiently by overseeing finances and coordinating health services. They may oversee an entire facility, or a specific clinic or department. Most individuals have at least a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration before entering the field, but master’s degrees are also common. Due to the aging of the Baby Boom population, an increased demand for healthcare service professionals is expected.
2020 Median Pay: $104,280 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 32%
6. Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists help patients of all ages develop and maintain the physical skills needed for daily living and working. OT can involve helping disabled children participate in school, helping people recover from injury, and providing support for seniors experiencing physical and cognitive challenges. The need for occupational therapists is expected to increase as the Baby Boom population ages and requires treatment for conditions related to arthritis and stroke. While occupational therapists must have a master’s degree in OT, there’s no specific undergraduate degree required. Popular majors include kinesiology/exercise science, psychology, biology, education, and even business. There’s also a very high demand for occupational therapy assistants, who are directly involved in providing therapy to patients. An associate’s degree is required to become an OT assistant.
Career: Occupational Therapy Assistant
2020 Median Pay: $60,950 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 32%
Career: Occupational Therapist
2020 Median Pay: $86,280 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 16%
Related: Top physical therapy scholarships
7. Computer Science and Software Engineering
In today’s digital world, there’s a big demand for college graduates with a degree in a computer-related field. From developing websites to mining data to making advancements in artificial intelligence, there’s an abundance of opportunities in this field. Jobs in information security, software development, and computer research are expected to expand rapidly throughout the coming years. As the demand for new and better technology grows, the demand for these jobs will grow as well. Depending on the specific field they wish to enter, students may want to concentrate their computer science degree in a certain area. Popular concentrations include artificial intelligence, information security, data science, software engineering, and programming languages.
Career: Information Security Analyst
2020 Median Pay: $103,590 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 31%
2020 Median Pay: $110,140 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 22%
2020 Median Pay: $126,830 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 15%
Related: Computer science major overview
8. Physical Therapy
Physical therapists are movement experts who help patients improve their quality of life through prescribed exercise and hands-on care. They treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to senior citizens. Most patients have injuries or disabilities that require treatment. The demand for physical therapists is increasing due to the large number of aging Baby Boomers, as well as the recent rise of conditions such as diabetes and obesity. A doctor of physical therapy (PT) degree is required to become a physical therapist. However, there’s no specific bachelor’s degree required to pursue the profession. Most undergraduate students with plans to pursue PT choose to major in exercise science, kinesiology, biology, health science, or psychology. The demand for physical therapist assistants is also expected to increase. An associate’s degree is required to become a PT assistant.
Career: Physical Therapist Assistant
2020 Median Pay: $49,970 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 29%
Career: Physical Therapist
2020 Median Pay: $91,010 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 18%
9. Communication Sciences and Disorders
This field of study focuses on language disorders and speech mechanisms, and can lead to a career as a speech-language pathologist. These are professionals who help diagnose and treat communication disorders in children and adults. The demand for speech-language pathologists is rising due to the aging of the Baby Boom population. As more and more elderly people develop health conditions that result in speech impairments, the need for speech-language pathologists will increase. A master’s degree is required to become a speech-language pathologist, while a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders is recommended.
Career: Speech-Language Pathologist
2020 Median Pay: $80,480 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 25%
10. Business Administration
Business continues to be an excellent major for students seeking in-demand skills. There’s a variety of occupations students can pursue with a degree in business administration. Popular fields include management, market research, accounting, and finance. In particular, the demand for market research analysts should grow as businesses increasingly rely on market research to understand customers and product demand. After earning their bachelor’s degree, many students go on to obtain a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) to further expand their career opportunities.
Career: Market Research Analyst
2020 Median Pay: $65,810 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 18%
Career: Management Analyst
2020 Median Pay: $87,660 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 11%
11. Construction Management
Following a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry is picking up steam again. Moving forward, population and business growth will result in the construction of new homes, office buildings, retail outlets, schools, and restaurants. The need to improve national infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and sewer pipe systems may also lead to employment growth. That’s why construction management is an excellent field of study. Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. They spend much of their time in the field, where they monitor projects and make decisions about construction activities.
Career: Construction Manager
2020 Median Pay: $97,180 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 8%
12. Human Resources
There’s certain jobs that continue to require a human touch, even as the world becomes increasingly automated. Human resources managers oversee the recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and training of new staff. They also serve as a link between a company’s management and its employees. They work in nearly every industry, meaning there’s a significant demand for college graduates with a degree in this field. In fact, HR jobs should experience a healthy growth over the next several years.
Career: Human Resources Manager
2020 Median Pay: $121,220 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 6%
Mechatronics is an emerging field of study that blends mechanical and electrical engineering. Students majoring in mechatronics learn how to build and control mechanical devices like robots and motors. Mechatronics engineers commonly work in the fields of cybersecurity, automotive engineering, robotics, and artificial intelligence. As technology related to computer-driven machinery (like automated cars and robotic surgery) continues to progress, the demand for mechatronics professionals is expected to rise. Few universities offer a dedicated mechatronics major, so most students specializing in the field do so under the umbrella of mechanical engineering. Mechatronics students can expect to take courses in 3D modeling, dynamics, and control systems.
Career: Mechanical Engineer
2020 Median Pay: $90,160 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 4%
Career: Electrical Engineer
2020 Median Pay: $103,390 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 3%
14. Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineers solve problems related to the production of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. They work in a range of industries such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, food processing, among others. Chemical engineering jobs are expected to grow at an average rate throughout this decade. Although there won’t be an astounding number of new jobs, there’s opportunities for chemical engineers to move into different fields such as nanotechnology, alternative energies, and biotechnology.
Career: Chemical Engineer
2020 Median Pay: $108,540 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 4%
15. Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineers design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. They can specialize in different types of aerospace products, including military airplanes and helicopters, remotely piloted aircraft, spacecraft such as launch vehicles and satellites, and military missiles and rockets. The field is expected to experience an average growth rate throughout the coming years. There won’t be an overwhelming number of new jobs, but growing interest in unmanned aerial systems should help drive growth of the occupation. Additionally, demand should be sustained by the desire to redesign aircraft to cause less noise pollution and have better fuel efficiency.
Career: Aerospace Engineer
2020 Median Pay: $118,610 per year
Growth Rate (2019-2029): 3%
As you can see, there’s many promising majors that lead to lucrative and rewarding careers. The key is to choose a field of study that you’re passionate about. Don’t declare your major based on job prospects alone. You want to end up with a stable career, of course, but you should also enjoy the work that you’re doing. If you can find something that checks both boxes, you should absolutely pursue it.
Also see: How to pick a major