These Degrees Aren't as Cool as You Think

Source: Yahoo
These Degrees Aren't as Cool as You Think

Some cool-sounding majors are tempting...until you see the unemployment rates attached to them.

Certain college majors attract people like bees to honey. These are degrees that seem fun in and of themselves, or seem like they will help you prepare for cool jobs down the road. But just because a degree program looks like a great idea at first glance, doesn't mean it's the right one for you. If you're looking at a degree as a springboard to a promising career search, there are bigger factors than coolness to consider.
"Some degrees are just more marketable than others because employers know exactly what skills the graduate has acquired," says Kevin Anthony Williams, a Dallas, Texas-based career coach. "Media influence has glamorized certain careers and has led to a lot of students getting degrees in really cool areas, such as sports management, fashion design, and music. These degrees are cool-sounding and glamorous, but the competition is very stiff, and the majority of the jobs are concentrated in only a few select parts of the country."
So when it comes to future employment, how do you know which degrees are not so cool and which deserve a longer look? Glad you asked.
The 2013 Georgetown University study entitled "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment, and Earnings" identified unemployment rates for a variety of degrees.  We used their data to find a number of degrees that may sound cool, but are decidedly overrated when unemployment rates. We then went to work finding some much cooler degrees; ones you can use to pursue careers that have big job numbers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Not-So-Cool Degree: Bachelor's in Architecture

Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:*12.8 percent
Skyscrapers, monuments, homes. Sure, it would be pretty cool to say you're the man or woman behind the design of a building and to hear your name mentioned alongside legends like I.M. Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright. And buildings are everywhere, so surely there's a need for qualified professionals to design them, right? Wrong.
Overrated Factors: Students should be wary of pursuing architecture degrees - and this line of work - since jobs aren't exactly plentiful due to the downturn in commercial and residential construction. That's the stance of Beth Carter, certified career coach and founder and president of executive search firm Carter Consultants Ltd. in Warren, R.I.
Williams agrees. "The job market for architects is cyclical and is heavily tied to the building economy," he says. "When housing and other construction starts are down, then layoffs and hiring freezes are common."

Cooler Degree: Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering

Find Programs Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 8.1 percent
Want to actually put those mathematical and design skills to work? The good news is that a mechanical engineering major has a relatively low unemployment rate. Carter points out that while it's true that a lot of manufacturing, and hence, manufacturing jobs, have moved overseas, many of the engineers are still located in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Labor bears out Carter's claim, estimating over a quarter of a million mechanical engineering positions filled in this occupation as of May 2012.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Mechanical Engineering Program.
Better yet, "the need to replace outdated heavy machinery with new and safer equipment keeps mechanical engineers in high demand and job placement post-graduation equally high relative to other fields," according to Williams.
Potential Career:** Mechanical Engineer
They may not design buildings, but what about the things that go inside those buildings, like air conditioners, escalators, elevators, and refrigerators? Mechanical engineers design these and many other products, according to the Department of Labor. Being able to imagine a product and create the design that brings it to life is pretty cool, which may be why the Department projects that 269,700 of these workers will be employed by 2022.

Not-So-Cool Degree: Bachelor's in Film, Video, and Photographic Arts

Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 11.4 percent
Watch movies for college credit? What's not to love, right? Wrong, again.
Overrated Factors: Consider the fact that film studies majors have a tough go at finding jobs post-grad, particularly, Williams says, if they don't come from prestigious programs.
The problem with a film studies degree, according to Carter, is that it's an oversaturated degree. Many people will graduate with this diploma because of its popularity, and unfortunately, there aren't that many jobs available for graduates and there is no real job security.
"You work on a film and once it is over there are no guarantees that there will be another one to work on," says Carter. "With colleges averaging $50,000 a year, it is just not practical to go into this line of work if you have student loans, housing, etc. to pay for."
Furthermore, she says, this major is one of those fields where true success can be a longshot. "The student must be willing to commit to a long road filled with low paying project-based work or administrative duties until they meet the right person who can open doors for them."

Cooler Degree: Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Find Programs Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 8.9 percent
Why not parlay your love of film - and cop dramas and heist movies - into studying the real thing by earning a criminal justice degree, which comes with a significantly lower unemployment rate?
"Crime is unfortunately a phenomenon that isn't going away in our society, so there will always be a need for qualified corrections officers, police officers, and FBI agents," says Williams.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.
And with crime and other criminal justice issues becoming more complicated, someone with just a high school diploma can't do it, says Carter, so it's best to earn this degree to be at the forefront of the field.
Potential Career:** Police or Sheriff's Patrol Officer
If you're looking for a career to pursue after earning your bachelor's in criminal justice, what' s cooler than a police officer? The subject of countless T.V. shows and movies, police and sheriff's patrol officers are the heroes who enforce laws and respond to emergencies. And there doesn't appear to be any shortage down the road when it comes to job openings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which projects 692,700 jobs in this field by 2022.

Not-So-Cool Degree:
Bachelor's in Political Science

Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 11.1 percent
Television shows have glamorized the entire spectrum of political science, from the counterterrorism of "Homeland" to the inside baseball politicking of "House of Cards." It may seem like a political science degree is a one-way ticket to power and influence.
Overrated Factors: According to Carter, political science may be seen as an overrated degree because it can be difficult for employers to gauge what skills graduates actually bring to the table.
"Companies do not have the time or resources to teach skills that one could learn in an undergrad program," she says, so the 'political savvy' that political science majors may learn often isn't as attractive as what those who major in business, engineering, marketing, and so on, learn - concrete, on-the-job skill sets and principles.

Cooler Degree: Bachelor's in Business Management and Administration

Find Programs Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 7.8 percent
Politics is just the business of government, right? So if you're thinking about political science, consider thinking more broadly about your major by studying business management, a field that shows no signs of slowing down with its much lower unemployment rate.
"A degree in business management provides a very broad business education in accounting, finance, and marketing," says Williams, meaning your degree has the extra benefit of qualifying you to pursue entry-level positions in any of these fields. "Organizations look for people with these skills to place them in operation-type roles for the purpose of grooming them for leadership positions."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.
Carter agrees, saying, "Regardless of what career path one takes, business is a good foundation to have."
Potential Career:** Top Executive
You may never become President of the United States, but many top executives are presidents and vice presidents of their own companies. Top executives use their management skills to carry out organizational goals, manage general activities related to providing goods or services, and consult about general operations, among other duties, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
While business administration majors can't usually expect to become top executives right out of school, with this degree, you do have the opportunity to pursue management positions that could potentially open up opportunities to try to climb the corporate ladder.
And if you're interested in this cool job, you're not alone. The Department of Labor anticipates 2,564,700 people in top executive positions by 2022.

Not-So-Cool Degree: Bachelor's in Commercial Art and Graphic Design

Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 10.5 percent
If you've ever seen a really cool advertisement or a web page that seems to pop off the screen, you may have thought about how much fun it would be to study commercial art and graphic design.
Overrated Factors: With its high unemployment rate, this degree may leave you doing more watching of ads than creating them.
Graphic design is a dicey major when it comes to employment prospects because much of the work is on a freelance or self-employment basis rather than full-time jobs with benefits. "There is just not that much work out there and a lot of it involves more web design, so a 'pure' graphic designer (one who doesn't design specifically for websites) will not be very marketable," says Carter.
Williams agrees. "This degree is probably more suited for people interested in freelance or self-employment," he says. "Organizations are less willing to carry the overhead of a graphic designer, but they are willing to engage them on a project basis."
His advice? "To be marketable and employable, a graphic designer will need to demonstrate web programming or project management skills," says Williams.

Cooler Degree: Bachelor's in Computer Science

Find Programs Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 8.7 percent
Chances are, if you love graphic design, you spend a great deal of time on your desktop and are pretty skilled with software. How about channeling all that computer savvy into a computer science degree?
While facility with computers has been a valued asset for some time, new technological advances in intelligent products make computer science skills even more important.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
"(Artificial Intelligence) is no longer for the geeks," says Williams. "Consumers are purchasing products that are intuitive, from cars to homes. Computer science majors acquire the skills to research, design and develop intuitive systems that are not only used in industry but have now found themselves in our homes and our lives."
Potential Career:** Software Developer, Applications
Some of the apps that we have today for our various computer devices are pretty amazing. So what could be cooler than designing them for a living? Applications software developers are the new rock stars of the tech world. They make great money (a median salary of over $90,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor), and there's plenty of work available, with a Department of Labor-projected 752,900 applications software developers working by 2022.

Not-So-Cool Degree: Bachelor's in Fine Arts

Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 10.1 percent
Ah, to live the life of a bohemian artist, spending hours painting, drawing, even gallivanting around campus and documenting it in photographs. What could be a cooler way to feed your creative soul?
Overrated Factors: While majoring in fine arts may be great for creative expression, it may be better left as a hobby. As with other liberal arts majors, employers often find it difficult to assess where the skills of a fine arts major would apply in an organization, so it's up to the graduate to market themselves accordingly, says Williams.
If you use your fine arts degree to go the route of curator, gallery owner, or arts administrator, there is an overall lack of opportunity and positions in this field as a whole. "There are a finite number of openings and many tend to stay with their organizations for years," says Carter. "So unless someone wants to do the junior work for a good chunk of their career until their boss retires then this is not worth it."

Cooler Degree: Bachelor's in Marketing and Marketing Research

Find Programs Unemployment Rate for Recent Grads:* 6.6 percent
Going down the artist path with your fine arts degree, whether painter, photographer, or otherwise, has its own set of challenges. "This is truly a labor of love and it can take a considerable amount of time to become established as an artist with a credible portfolio," says Williams. Again, 'job' is a relative term here, too, he says, as you might find yourself self-employed and jobless until you get an exhibition or sell some of your works.
If you can combine your interests with a practical degree program like marketing, Carter says you've got a winning formula for employment prospects.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.
"With the economy taking off again, companies have been ramping up their marketing efforts," says Carter, and from her perspective as a recruiter, they are looking for recent marketing grads. "The older Fortune 500 companies lost many consumers due to start-ups really embracing social media as a marketing tool. Microbreweries, niche companies, you name it, have capitalized on all the ways you can market, but they need marketing graduates."
Potential Career:** Market Research Analyst
Wouldn't it be cool to figure out why people want certain products and what people are willing to pay for them? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there is an increasing use of research on consumer behavior by companies for the purposes of developing better market strategies. Perhaps this is why the Department projects 131,500 new jobs in this field from 2012-2022.

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