Choosing the right major could make or break your chances at getting a job after graduation.Maybe you're considering going back to school, but find yourself questioning whether or not it is still worth it to invest so much time and money. Well, good news: at the moment, it still pays to earn a college degree.
At least that's what the Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce had to say after conducting its 2013 study "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings." Another finding they uncovered? Not all college degrees are created equal.
Your chances of being unemployed after graduation largely depends on the field you choose to study. Anthony Carnevale, co-author of the Georgetown report and director of the Education and Workforce Center, suggests researching potential salaries and unemployment rates of the fields that interest you. "It's just smart to know if the major you're interested in is likely to get you a job," he says.
To help you with your investigation, here are the top 10 majors that report the lowest unemployment rates after graduation.*
You're the go-to person when someone is feeling under the weather, but you still haven't made up your mind about getting that nursing degree. Well, you might make up your mind after you read this: according to the Georgetown report, nursing majors have the lowest unemployment rate among all recent college graduates.
Why? The increased demand in health care, says Carnevale. Today, Americans are spending one in every five dollars on health care, and this high demand for health services is making "the demand for nurses among the fastest in the economy," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.
Common Courses: Nutrition, health assessment, microbiology, pharmacology, and adult nursing**
If you loved playing teacher when you were young, prepping to reprise that role now might be a good idea. According to the Georgetown report, elementary education majors have the second lowest unemployment rate among recent graduates.
The reason behind the low rate? Teacher retirement. "The elementary school workforce is among the oldest of the American working industries," says Carnevale. And as more teachers reach retirement age, more teaching spots open up.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Elementary Education Program.
Common Courses : Teaching methods, educational psychology, and education of the exceptional child
Degree #3: Physical Fitness and Parks and RecreationUnemployment Rate: 5.2%
If the only thing that has kept you from previously enrolling in this program was the suspicion that jobs could be scarce upon graduation, you can breathe easy. This degree reports the third lowest unemployment rate among recent grads.
Where are all the jobs? The baby boomers' demand for services, recreational facilities, and activities is increasing the need for qualified candidates, says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, chief career writer and partner at CareerTrend.
There are a variety of ways to work in this industry, she says. "New grads can get their feet wet in an entry-level, seasonal, part-time and/or temporary role." She also says they can pursue jobs in cruise ships and volunteer agencies as well as recreation facilities like playgrounds, parks, camps, senior centers, and more.
Common Courses : Program and event planning, recreation leadership, area and facility design, and marketing recreation enterprises
Degree #4: ChemistryUnemployment Rate: 5.8%
Almost blow up your parents' house? Maybe it's time to move those basement science experiments into a real lab. It would certainly be safer for your parents, and maybe for your career as well. According to the Georgetown report, recent chemistry grads have the fourth lowest unemployment rate.
Recent chemistry grads are facing a low unemployment rate, because hiring has increased in the private sector and in manufacturing, according to Carnevale. More chemistry grads are needed as industries continue to get more involved in chemical processing, he says. According to Industrial Info Resources, chemical processing "encompasses a broad range of products, including petrochemical and inorganic chemicals, plastics, detergents, paints and pigments, and more."
And that's not the only reason. Carnevale says the growing concern for the environment has also opened up a lot of "green jobs" for chemists.
Common Courses : Organic chemistry, thermodynamics, biochemistry, and inorganic chemistry
If you'd like to learn how to make smart investment decisions, then you might consider earning a degree in finance. Choosing this major is itself a wise investment since, according to the Georgetown report, recent college graduates in this field have the fifth lowest unemployment rate.
According to Barrett-Poindexter, the low unemployment rate is due to operations in the recovering finance sector ramping back up. Strong, qualified, and ethical finance professionals are needed to fill open positions.
Carnevale echoes that, stating that financial management and reporting has become more extensive in every industry of the American economy. "Finance is a basic institutional function," he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
Common Courses : Financial management, international finance, investments, and financial markets and institutions
Degree #6: MathematicsUnemployment Rate: 5.9%
Calculus, algebra, and geometry don't scare you. No, you actually enjoy these subjects. That's why a math degree would be a great option for you, especially if you'd like your career opportunities to multiply. Good news for you: recent math graduates have the same low unemployment rate that finance majors do.
"Math degrees have always been a star," says Carnevale. Recent math graduates always have a low unemployment rate, because you can sell the degree in a number of occupations. You could do anything from working in insurance companies to working in business, accounting, and financial services, Carnevale explains.
Common Courses : Linear algebra, modern geometry, number theory, and single-variable calculus
If you'd like to learn the ins and outs of running a hotel, earning a hospitality management degree could pay off. In fact, recent hospitality management grads had the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the Georgetown report.
The reason? The economy. Hospitality jobs are very sensitive to the economy, says Carnevale. As the economy recovers, travel increases, and more people are needed for these jobs. "People have more money to spend," he says, so more people are staying in hotels.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Hospitality Management Program.
Common Courses: Resort operations, hospitality finance, marketing, festival and event management, and food service operations
Degree #8: Drama and Theater ArtsUnemployment Rate: 6.4%
Interested in theater and production? Rather than work as a server in NYC, waiting to be discovered, the Georgetown report suggests that you might want to head to school. Drama and theater arts had the eighth lowest unemployment rate among recent graduates, according to the Georgetown report. Who knew?
Surprising as it is, the public's demand for more movies and television shows is causing a need for more producers and directors, says Barrett-Poindexter. The field is also smaller, which could mean more opportunity. "Fewer students are graduating with a theater arts degree," says Barrett-Poindexter, "so there is less competition."
Common Courses: Acting, directing, costume design, dramatic literature, and theater history
Degree #9: Family and Consumer SciencesUnemployment Rate: 6.4%
You're good at taking care of your family. You keep the budget in check. You make sure everyone is eating the right things and is getting along. And if you'd like to put to use all of these skills, you might want to go back to school and major in family and consumer sciences. Recent grads who took this path had the same low unemployment rate as drama and theater arts majors, according to the results of the Georgetown study.
The low unemployment rate is due to "a wide variety of career opportunities that exist in this field," says Barrett-Poindexter. Recent grads can pursue jobs in health and human services agencies, retail operations, government service, and even work as consultants, she adds.
Common Courses: Child development, meal management, housing, and family financial management
Do you wish you could improve the ad campaigns you see on TV, Facebook, or Twitter? If so, a degree in marketing could teach you the basics to create your own. The best part: recent marketing grads don't face a high unemployment rate. In fact, they have the tenth lowest unemployment rate among all degrees listed in the Georgetown report.
And campaigns on Facebook and Twitter are the reason behind this low unemployment rate. "With the genesis of social media, the continuing need for informed talent to strategically employ social networking in marketing products and services has exploded," says Barrett-Poindexter.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.
Common Courses: Marketing strategy, consumer behavior, advertising and promotion, and international marketing