Studying the right major in college could greatly improve your job prospects after graduation.If you're in the market for a new job, you know how important it is for your resume to stand out from the pack. But you may not realize how much your degree takes center stage. In fact, the degree on your resume could mean the difference between sealing the deal and getting tossed out.
It's true. Findings from "2013 Job Outlook," a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), suggest that certain degrees may put you in a better position for employment than others.
After surveying 244 employers, the NACE determined which six degrees are at the top of employers' lists when it comes to hiring.
So before you commit to one field of study, why not find out where the odds are in your favor? Keep reading to learn about six degrees that most employers will find impressive.
Finance majors practice making investment decisions, work with complex computer programs, and learn how to manage a budget, according to the College Board, an organization that promotes higher education and administers the SAT exam.
Why It's Impressive: It boils down to money, says Stuart Mease, director of undergraduate career services at Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business.
"The financial work the person is doing is either generating or saving money for these companies," he says.
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That's because they're able to understand numbers and income statements, and that information helps managers make better decisions about the business, Mease says. Managers can use this information to generate additional revenue or cut costs, so that's why finance degrees are in demand.
The College Board says that information science majors learn how people interact with information. They might take courses like information architecture and database management. On the other hand, computer science majors learn how people interact with computers and might take courses such as computer system organization and software engineering.
Why It's Impressive: "It's very difficult, just like learning a different language," says Mease. "Not everyone can speak computer language."
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Plus, the need for computer and information science majors is only going to grow from here, says Mease, as business operations depend more on technology to operate smoothly.
"We are moving from a tangible manufacturing economy to a digital manufacturing economy," Mease says. "Instead of producing widgets we are producing Web and mobile apps."
The College Board says that "accounting majors learn how to gather, record, analyze, interpret, and communicate information about an individual's or organization's financial performance and risks." Tax accounting, business law, and auditing are some of the courses the College Board says accompany this major.
Why It's Impressive: It comes down to showing you're serious about your career, says Mease. "If [the student is] willing to commit to the grind of studying and mastering this skill, then it shows their maturity level and desire."
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Plus, he adds that the curriculum can be difficult. "The content is harder to master because you have to be exactly correct [with the numbers]. Plus, in order to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam you must have 150 semester hours of credit, which is usually 20-30 more credits needed to graduate," says Mease. Talk about showing dedication.
While you don't have to become a CPA to be considered for a position, Mease says it does lead to more opportunities.
Some of the coursework business administration and management majors complete includes marketing, economics, and business policy and strategy, says the College Board. It also notes that the program "prepares students to plan, organize, direct, and control an organization's activities."
Why It's Impressive: It's a versatile degree, says Mease. "It's the most general major that has a lot of street credibility," he says. For example, in a small business setting, this degree may be helpful for working on multiple projects.
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On the other hand, degree-holders in this major fill a lot of sales, business development, customer service, or retail positions, says Mease.
The College Board says "as a mechanical engineering major, you'll learn the science behind machines and the energy that makes them work. You'll also apply what you learn by creating your own machines." Major courses could include circuit analysis, dynamics, materials science, and mechanical design fundamentals.
Why It's Impressive: Since a mechanical engineer is the glue that holds everything together, employers find a mechanical engineering degree an asset, says Michael Mercer, CEO of The Mercer Group, a management consulting and executive search firm, and author of "Job Hunting Made Easy."
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"Everything that is manufactured requires a mechanical engineer. It is the core of technology," he says. "Mechanical engineers actually have to combine a number of types of engineering: industrial, electrical, civil. It's a good, all-around degree."
As the College Board notes, "MIS majors study information systems and their use in business and other organizations. They learn about computer databases, networks, computer security, and more." Database design, ecommerce, networks, and telecommunications are just a few examples of possible courses for this major, the College Board adds.
Why It's Impressive: This major is in demand because companies like to have employees "who have a general understanding of computer science but can also couple business skills with the technical side," Mease says.
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"They can articulate why an app or technology can benefit the corporation and can communicate to software developers what needs to be done," he says.