Big Bucks College Majors of the Future

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engineerThis post originally appeared on MainStreet.

A year out of college and still looking for a job? You must have a degree in literature.

Unemployment among humanities and social science majors was almost 13% in 2009, more than twice the rate of recent graduates who majored in education, computer science or math. They have a job, and you’re starting a blog. The most popular degree: a bachelor’s in business has an unemployment rate of 9% one year after graduation.

While it’s true that having a degree lowers your chances of unemployment and raises your income prospects, earnings and joblessness vary greatly depending on your college major, according to the latest information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bureau has classified 150 occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree for employment, and between 2010 and 2020, these occupations are projected to have more than 8.5 million job openings.

The fields of business, education and computer science account for many of these employment opportunities.

Engineering graduates with a fresh degree make the most money, with a $62,655 average starting salary for 2012 grads, according to the National Association of Colleges and employers. Humanities and social sciences majors can look for beginning pay of about $36,988. As a benchmark, the May 2012 median annual income for all wage and salary workers was $34,750.

Industries with the most job openings requiring a degree include business, financial operations and sales. For the referenced ten-year period, accountants and auditors will be the most in demand, with a projected 452,100 job openings.

An even greater demand is forecast for elementary school teachers, excluding special education, with a projected 573,200 job openings for the decade. Civil engineers lead the available job market in the architecture and engineering field, but the biggest paychecks go to the petroleum engineers who rake in over $130,000 per year. They can afford that gas-guzzling SUV. In fact, it provides them with job security, doesn’t it?

Computer and science geeks can vie for the estimated 1.1 million jobs projected in their field for the 2010-20 timeframe, ranging from computer systems analysts to actuaries. The big money in this group goes to the software developers and system software specialists, who took home a median $99,000 annual wage in 2012.

Public relations specialists and graphic designers are in big demand, with over 120,000 expected jobs for each during the period. Who knew art directors made the most money in this field? They bank over $80,000 a year. Radio and television announcers are the least paid in the arts and media professions, with a $28,000 median annual salary. Sounds about right.

In healthcare and social service, employers are scouting most for child, family and school social workers, with 128,300 job openings expected between 2010 and 2020. Median wages for these benevolent souls are generally in the $40,000 to 50,000 range.

Considering what the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies as “other” bachelor’s-level occupations, nearly 119,000 job openings will be available during the decade for recreation workers. Unfortunately, the chance to wear comfortable footwear comes at a cost: the median annual wage was $22,240 in 2012.

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