It’s true that technically, you don’t need to choose a major until your third year of college. But there are a lot of advantages to selecting your concentration before you even set foot on campus, while you’re still in high school. Choosing early gives you the chance to take relevant AP courses and SAT subject tests that will let you test out of lower-level prerequisites, saving thousands of dollars on course tuition. You can also take the opportunity to find relevant internships early in the game, which will make you look more attractive to employers when you’re ready to find a full-time job.
So, if you’re considering choosing a major now, you’ll want to think about what you’re good at and what you’re interested in—but especially in these difficult times, you’ll also want to think about what will make you employable. If you want a degree that will help you land a job straight out of college, consider one of these concentrations.
Biomedical Engineering. This challenging, but fascinating major combines the study of engineering and the human body to help students understand how science can help humanity. Biomedical engineers are responsible for working on innovative projects like creating prosthetic limbs and creating cancer warning systems. The career field is growing rapidly, with an estimated 11,600 jobs to be added within the next eight years, and the median salary is $ 77,400. If you’re a math and science whiz, this could be the perfect major to get you started in an exciting and high-paying career.
Education. It’s true that teachers don’t make a fortune, but getting every summer off is one of the greatest benefits around. Getting a degree in elementary education and a teaching credential means that you’re unlikely to ever be out of a job—schools are always in need of great new teachers. Check out the requirements in your state, or the state you plan to move to, to find out what’s involved in becoming a teacher, and what sort of wages you can hope to earn—in some areas, such as New York City, long-time teachers can earn in excess of $100,000 a year.
Information Technology. If you’re a computer whiz, a degree in information technology will help you get the paper credentials you need to move into the high-paying and fast-paced tech world. The industry is gaining prominence rapidly: according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 155,000 new jobs in the network systems and data communications field will be created by 2018. Play your cards right, and you may end up at a Silicon Valley start-up straight out of college.
Finance. If you’re good with numbers, a degree in finance could serve you well in the job market. You’ll have the option of going on to get your CPA license to become an accountant, or you can go into any number of financial careers, such as a financial examiner, a financial consultant, an insurance underwriter, or a money manager. Even though Wall Street may not be the hot spot it once was, there are still plenty of great jobs in the financial industry to be found.
Athletic Training. If you’re a sports nut, but won’t be recruited into the NFL anytime soon, a B.A. in athletic training is a great way to set yourself up for a physically oriented job, where you’ll be able to help people prevent or repair physical injuries. Athletic trainers may work in schools, hospitals, or with sports teams, and are highly in demand—athletic trainer employment is expected to rise by 38 percent from 2008 to 2018. If you love being on your feet all day, this could be the perfect major for you.