Students who concentrate on courses related to math, science, engineering and technology will have the widest array of job options upon graduation, says a top observer of corporate hiring.
John Challenger, chief executive officer of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, believes it’s OK for students to begin college looking for an interesting career, but their search should to be rooted in the reality of what jobs will be available when they graduate.
“Many freshmen have no idea what career path they want to pursue,” he says. Instead, they rely on “a mix of courses in the first year to help point them in the right direction.” While there’s “absolutely” nothing wrong with that, he advises that it’s best to understand where job growth is expected to remain strong so that you can make the best decisions about your course selections as you move forward.
Hot Jobs 2018-2025
Challenger says these fields are among those that will experience strong hiring gains during the time today’s college students will hit the market:
- Mobile and Wireless: “This is a big area of growth within IT,” Challenger says.
- Medical Information Systems and IT: “Is positioned for extraordinary growth over the lifetimes of people coming out now and there are many areas to go into.”
- Big Data: “Healthcare, corporations, government agencies, etc., are all collecting massive amounts of information. The demand will be for people who can organize, manage and make sense of all this data.”
- R&D: “Technological developments are accelerating the pace of change and significant breakthroughs in all types of fields, from renewable energy to health care, from transportation to home construction,” Challenger said.
- R&D II: Those schooled in biology, chemistry, math, engineering, design, computer technology, etc., are going to be rewarded with ample job opportunities here.
- Human Factors Engineers and Ergonomists: “While these types of jobs need a catchier name, the demand will continue to grow. Where we work, how we work, and when we work have all changed dramatically over the past decade. These will continue to evolve going forward,” Challenger predicts.
“So, we will need people who specialize in maximizing efficiency, health, cost, quality, etc.,” he sums up. “We have companies now where more than half of the employees work from home. How do you make sure everyone is on the same page and moving in the right direction? Yahoo couldn’t do it, so the company ended its work-at-home option.”
Challenger said companies need strategies for managing such a workforce and trained people who will do it. “These workers will have varied education backgrounds, including psychology, engineering and technology, design, sociology, administration and management.”
Start Broad, Then Narrow… But Not Too Much
“You want to find an area that fits you, that you enjoy, where you can keep growing and not become stagnant,” Challenger observes to students. “The broader the category at the beginning of a career the more room you have to explore different areas.”
But remember: Not all choices are created equal. “You don’t want to get caught being a specialist in an area that becomes obsolete,” Challenger points out. “You don’t want to be the expert in a programming language that is on its way out, or be so specialized that you can’t find jobs in the geographic area where you want to work.”