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Though earning a degree from a school with programmatic accreditation is not usually mandatory, doing so can increase a graduate’s marketability when it comes to the job search. Explore our guides to see if your intended field of study has any programmatic accreditations available, and find the best schools for your subject.

Top Job Markets for Students

The top careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, include health care, social assistance, and professional and business services. These fields are expected to add millions of new jobs to the market in the coming years. Though these numbers should not dictate what degree you pursue, it is important to note that the level of education and type of degree you earn can dramatically affect your future employment prospects and potential income.

Education Trends in the Job Market

Obtaining a postsecondary education or specialized training could impact your earned income. According to the BLS, the more personalized education you receive in your field, – be it through internships, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, or in the classroom – the more likely you are to earn a higher wage. In addition, people with a higher education or professional degree training tend to face lower unemployment rates than those who did not.

2012 Weekly Earnings and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment

Average: $815 Weekly Earnings | 6.8% Unemployment

|
  • Doctoral Degree
    $1,624
    2.5%
  • Professional Degree
    $1,735
    2.1%
  • Master's Degree
    $1,300
    3.5%
  • Bachelor's Degree
    $1,066
    4.5%
  • Associate's Degree
    $785
    6.2%
  • Some College (No Degree)
    $727
    7.7%
  • High School Diploma
    $652
    8.3%
  • Less Than a High School Diploma
    $471
    12.4%

However, differences in the education-to-income ratio can lie in the chosen fields of employment. For example, someone in the STEM industry with a bachelor’s degree is likely to earn more than someone in general education with the same degree level. But earning a higher degree in any field raises your potential lifetime earning exponentially.

The Strongest U.S. Industries and Best College Majors

Industry Related Degrees Projected Growth Rate (2012-2022) Projected Jobs Added (2012-2022)
Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations Nursing, Medicine, Medical Technician 21.5% 1,732,900
Office and administrative support occupations Management, Administration 6.8% 1,534,000
Construction and extraction occupations Construction Management 21.4% 1,301,900
Healthcare support occupations Medical Assisting, Medical Aide, Therapy Assisting 28.1% 1,155,800
Personal care and service Occupations Trade-specific certificates and degrees 20.9% 1,122,900

Source: BLS, “Employment Projections 2012-2022

Between 2012 and 2022, the occupations listed in the chart above are projected to add the most employment opportunities to the job market. However, prospective students should note that though construction and extraction occupations are quickly growing, that industry remains below the peak level that it reached in 2006; this sector was hit hard by the recession of 2007.

Healthcare occupations have the highest projected number of jobs added, and it is the fastest growing industry of other groups of occupations. According to Georgetown University’s report on healthcare, the reasons for the high growth rate of this industry include a changing life expectancy that creates higher demand for better health procedures; more healthcare professionals reaching retirement age and leaving their positions vacant; and the advent of the Affordable Care Act, which increased the demand for qualified workers. Majors in all areas of health, including nursing, administration, medical billing, and more, can all expect favorable employment aspects upon graduation.

For someone looking to pursue one of the top paying careers in healthcare, a college degree is typically required. For example, physicians, dentists, and pharmacist careers all require a doctoral or professional degree, while radiation therapists, dental hygienists, and nuclear medicine technologists need a specialized associate degree. However, with the unemployment figures from earlier in mind, the higher the degree you earn for one of these quickly-growing occupations, the better your chances are of landing a well-paying job as well as avoiding unemployment.