One of the cruelest pieces of advice given to college students is “get a degree, any degree, and you can get a good paying job”. This lie has led to millions going deep into debt to earn a degree that doesn’t result in a good paying job or, in some cases, no job at all so they work in jobs you could hold with only a high school degree. Yet, there are college degrees that employers value and pay well for. Here are the three best degrees for graduates in 2017.
According to SalarySite.com, nearly every engineering discipline is in high demand. This is why there has been such a push to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to students instead of liberal arts or general business degrees. Expectations are that Biomedical engineering will grow 72% by 2018 while salaries range from $63,000 to $100,000. Structural engineers, a subset of civil engineers, earn between $60,000 and $100,000; they make more than most architects. Aeronautical engineers earn anywhere from $60,000 to $120,000.
The value of the engineering degree is so high that there are skilled labor training programs that try to co-opt the title. It is so bad in India that more than two-thirds of “engineers” have no engineering skills and the title was actually applied to appliance repairmen because of the prestige.
Advanced Medical Skills
You don’t have to go to medical school to earn almost as much as a doctor anymore. Physician assistants work under the supervision of an MD or DO and earn almost as much; between $85,000 and $105,000. Nurse practitioners earn as much or more, depending on their qualifications and where they practice. If the PA or NP works in a clinic in place of a doctor, they easily earn more than a hundred thousand dollars a year. A nursing bachelor degree allows you to earn between $70,000 and $110,000, and you can work almost anywhere in the country. If you train in occupational or physical therapy, you’ll earn between $50,000 and $85,000 a year.
Finance and Accounting
While we said that a general business degree has relatively little value in the marketplace, the bright exception is accounting and finance. A master’s degree in finance or accounting prepares you to become a certified professional accountant, tax adviser, certified financial planner or work in the complex arena of business financial management. According to a NACE survey in 2016, finance degree holders were the most in demand because there were relatively few graduates with the right skillset.
And, it is in far greater demand than marketing, though management information systems, the hybrid of IT and management, sees strong demand.
These three career choices offer good prospects for the future, are experiencing great demand and offer competitive wages. Whether it’s finance, healthcare or a technical field, make sure that you weigh the pros and cons of each and make sure that you choose a field that is as lucrative as it is fulfilling.