Surprising degrees that lead to top jobs

Many variables affect a college graduate’s degree of success in finding a new job. One of them is competition: if you hold a popular degree for an industry that’s negatively impacted, it’s going to be difficult to find work. However, there are a number of degrees and certificates that a lot of prospective students don’t consider pursuing, despite job growth expected in the near future:

1) Paper Science and Engineering – The paper industry is still the 10th largest in the United States. There are only about eight institutions in the country that confer degrees related to paper science or paper engineering; each year, big paper companies run straight to them and nab all of their graduates. Between 2007 and 2012, one-fifth of paper industry workers retired, leaving about 3,000 jobs open.

Average Salary: $66,000

2) Athletic Training – Some college communities maintain closely-knit networks of professionals and alumni. Such is the case for Wright State University’s athletic training program. Apparently, everyone in the program is so well connected before and after graduating, that degree-holders have a 100-percent job placement rate.

Average Salary: $41,600

3) Respiratory Care – By 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), respiratory care jobs will increase by 28 percent. Students pursuing this degree receive hands-on as well as academic training. It’s been speculated that the reason these jobs are likely to grow is because the baby-boomer population is aging. If nursing or other popular health-care programs are impacted, this is a lucrative option to consider.

Average Salary: $54,280

4) Operations and Supply Management – Although some undergraduates believe a degree in this field will lead to working on a factory floor, working in operations and supply management is a solid career choice. The market for operations and supply management is huge because it’s a fundamental part of any successful business.

Average Salary: $50,000

6) Geospatial Technology – Graduates of this program specialize in taking data and mapping it; they’re trained to track diseases, identify optimal spots for retail outlets and more. Although the programs to teach these skills are new, about 600,000 Americans work in the field, and that number is expected to grow to 850,000 by 2018.

Average Salary: Between $35,000 and $65,000

7) Respiratory Therapy – A lot of students gravitate to traditional degrees and certificates in health-care industries, but sometimes more specialized training can lead to a better chance at finding a job. Respiratory therapy is a field that, according to BLS, is expected to grow by 28 percent in this decade. Right now, it’s possible to land a job with an associate’s degree, but many hospitals are beginning to look for applicants with bachelor’s degrees.

Average Salary: $18-$20 per hour

8) Industrial and Innovative Design – Some colleges excel at providing their students with opportunities in certain areas, such as Cedarville University in Ohio. Its industrial and innovative design program brings students into Cedarville for two years, then transfers them to the International Center for Creativity in Columbus, Ohio, for two more. So far, each graduate of the program has landed a job, except for one who chose to pursue graduate studies.

Average Salary: $58,230

9) Geology – This is another field of study that many students usually don’t consider as a viable option. However, many graduates in geology land jobs in management, science, and technical consulting services. Many industries need geology majors; in 2012, 3,200 jobs were available in this field.

Average Salary: $82,500

10) Environmental Engineering – Students who earn a degree in this field usually meet with many job opportunities upon graduation. This field is expected to grow by 22 percent over the next seven years.

Average Salary: $78,740


Article courtesy of