Not long ago, I was asked about degrees that lead to jobs with salaries over $75,000 a year. So I dug a little and found out that there are some areas where there is projected job growth, along with the probability that you will eventually make more than $75,000 a year. Entry-level jobs start at lower figures, yet still are higher than some other entry-level jobs.
My research looked at what skills the degree covers, and why the skills are valued in the labor market. Notice that high-level math skills are essential for several of the jobs, while high-level writing skills are essential for the others. Another core skill is the ability to work in teams and manage relationships.
Engineering – Engineers need mathematics, physical science and engineering science knowledge, as well as problem-solving, project management and research skills, and the ability to work well with teams of people. There are many areas that require engineering degrees from ensuring that buildings are properly constructed, to repairing bridges and tunnels and road, to helping solve environmental problems, and inspecting construction to ensure that it is safe. Sample titles are Civil Engineer, Environmental Engineer and Structural Engineer. A Bachelor’s degree in engineering is sufficient to make good money. Since experience is very helpful, look for cooperative engineering programs, which provide college credit for structured job experience, are valuable.
Computer Science – Sophisticated mathematics, computer science and engineering skills are essential in computer science program. Math is at the core of most programming, especially advanced calculus (algorithms are at the heart of all search engines, for example.) Depending on what you specialize in, getting a computer science degree prepares you to be a software developer, programmer, network engineers, cybersecurity expert, web site builder, and digital game developer. Practically every business relies on software and the internet, so the job possibilities are almost endless. BA is sufficient for most positions.
Health Care Administration – Health care administrators are the people who run health care operations, from hospitals to medical practices to nursing homes. Administrative and managerial skills are required, including managing people and projects, planning, financial management, understanding government regulations, data and information systems, and legal compliance. As the population ages, there are more opportunities in elder care institutions. A BA is enough for many positions, but to advance and make more money, a Masters degree is often required.
Management Analyst. Management analysts improve organizational efficiency and look for ways to reduce costs and increase revenue. Skills required are research, data gathering and analysis, math, planning, project management, writing, and the ability to work well with a wide variety of people and levels of an organization. 2010 median pay was $78,160 per year. A BA is usually enough to start especially working for a corporation. If you want to work for a big consulting firm, you need to get an MBA.
Graphic Design – Graphic designers make things look great in a variety of media, creating visual concepts that communicate to consumers of information. This is a position that requires artistic ability, creativity, computer skills (everything is digital now), time management and project management skills, the ability to work with others, and communication skills. Demand for graphic design comes from almost everywhere, as visual images and design are integral to everything on the internet, as well as traditional advertising, marketing, and promotion. Graphic designers also work on video games, apps, movies, TV, and more.
Communications – jobs in communications require people who write very well and are able to organize and express ideas well. Editing is also a vital skill. Technical writers are among the highest paid communications people, and they need to be able to understand and explain complex concepts, including scientific information, computer program documentation, financial filings, and instruction manuals.
Accounting – Math, focus on details, data analysis, using spreadsheets, being extremely well organized, and communication (verbal and in writing) are essential skills for an accountant. Accountants maintain and audit financial records, and are usually involved in managing a company’s financial operations. More regulation of corporations and complex tax laws are two drivers of growth in this occupation. A BA is usually sufficient to get a good job, yet to advance it is advisable to become a Certified Public Accountant, which means studying for and passing a fairly rigorous test.
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers – a BA in Marketing or Advertising will prepare you for these positions. Writing, research, data analysis, planning, project management, and computer literacy are core skills required for these positions. You can work in-house for a company or for an advertising or marketing agency. Digital marketing and social media are essential parts of marketing and advertising now.
These are only a few of the growth occupations in the US. The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has so much information about occupational growth and what you need to be able to succeed in a given job. Check out Employment Projections and the other charts on www.bls.gov.