Six Degrees That Will Stop Your Career in its Tracks

Don't bother with these overrated careers

If you want to have a bevy of job options when you graduate, you might want to avoid these degree programs.

College is all about choices, and chief among them involves picking what to study. Yes, it's important to enjoy the major you choose. But it's also crucial that you select something that's versatile, so you can pursue different avenues with your degree once it's time for you to hunt for a job.
"Employers want to hire versatile workers who are able to learn quickly, write effectively, analyze large amounts of data, think critically, and are effective problem solvers," says Alane De Luca, executive director of the center for experiential learning at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH.
De Luca explains that it's not one course of study that illustrates these skills, but a more wide-ranging educational plan that challenges students over a variety of course disciplines. In other words, there are some majors that simply appear to potential employers as too limited.
So if you think you know exactly what you want to study and what you want to do, think again, and maybe consider leaving yourself some extra options. Here are five degrees that may limit your options, and five alternatives that are a bit more versatile.

Limiting Degree #1: Bachelor's in Fashion Design

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Fashion Designer -3%
If you're trendy, confident, and have a flair for fashion, then you might be thinking fashion design all the way for your college degree choice. But if you choose this path, you might find yourself facing a lot of competition for very few jobs and possessing skills that don't really apply to much other than conceptualizing and creating garments.
Why It May Limit Your Options: Getting a fashion design degree doesn't really prepare you for anything other than pursuing a fashion designer job, according to Peter Berner, an executive coach, career advisor, and president of Pilot Workplace Advisors, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based human resources development firm.
Worse, he says often the actual degree isn't integral to landing a job. It's who you know, not what you know, so might not want to invest time and energy here unless you've got an "in" into the fashion industry already.
"Luck, creativity, connections often are more relevant than a fashion design degree," he says, adding that there is tremendous competition for the few jobs that do exist in this field.

Versatile Degree #1: Master's in Business Administration

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Financial Analyst 16%
Computer and Information Systems Manager 15%
Securities, Commodities, Financial Services Sales Agent 11%
Possess strong leadership skills and have a solid understanding of business? Then you might be a great candidate for pursuing a master's in business administration (MBA). What's great about an MBA is that it enables you to go after a wide range of job opportunities, says Berner.
Why It May Be More Versatile: "MBA degrees are generic in that they can be applied in most business environments," Berner says, pointing out that not just financial industries, but liberal arts organizations, tech startups, and engineering firms seek MBAs to help build and strengthen their businesses.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.
Moreover, he adds that, "People with MBA's are often perceived to be better qualified."

Limiting Degree #2: Bachelor's in Journalism

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Reporter, Correspondent, Broadcast News Analyst -13%
Editor  -2%
Writer or Author 3%
So you're a natural-born wordsmith and think earning a bachelor's in journalism is the way to snag a professional writing gig. But whether your preference is journalistic writing, editorial work, or even writing books or for movies or T.V., positions for those with this major are disappearing fast.
Why It May Limit Your Options: Berner identifies an alarming trend in the world of journalism - a journalism degree isn't necessary for the few jobs that still exist in this field.
"There are network news 'personalities' reporting on national newscasts who do so without journalism degrees," Berner says. "The anonymity of the online format makes degree-less reporting even more accessible." So what's the point if it won't set you apart or make you more competitive to do this type of work?
Berner adds, "While the need for professional journalism has never been greater in the arena of public discourse, news-as-entertainment is where the jobs are heading," he says. "A degree in personality, if there were such an animal, would probably open up more opportunity."

Versatile Degree #2: Bachelor's in Computer Science

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Software Developer 22%
Computer Support Specialist 17%
Are you most comfortable when coding your own site, gaming, or just plain surfing the web to look at what's being done online in terms of video and animation? Then earning a bachelor's in computer science might seem more like play than work to you.
Since virtually all companies now need web presence and computer pros to both create and troubleshoot their sites, this degree offers a lot of appeal.
Why It May Be More Versatile: This once 'nerdy' field has become mainstream over the last decade, says Kate McKeon, CEO of, an educational consulting firm that helps students prepare for school admissions and plan career paths.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
She says the loss of stigma in this field just may have something to do with the bevy of careers out there that this degree will allow you to pursue, even outside of tech.
"Computer science can be used in many, many fields," says McKeon. "These students can also contribute to research teams that are not obviously technology-related such as water research. A comp-sci grad may find herself designing a process to crunch through a massive data set to identify sources of below surface water in sub-Saharan Africa."

Limiting Degree #3: Bachelor's in Philosophy

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
None Available N/A
Your friends and family might describe you as a thinker or the strong silent type that's always got a lot going on in your head. So earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy probably sounds like a slam dunk. Unfortunately, if you aren't prepared to pursue further schooling, this degree program might be a bust in terms of the breadth of post-grad career options.
Why It May Limit Your Options: According to Berner, a philosophy degree really only prepares you to teach, and there's not a lot of opportunity to do so, especially without an advanced degree.
As far as regular companies and businesses go, the skillset that goes hand in hand with studying philosophy, he says, isn't always well-understood by employers or directly applicable to an exact job or position. "Most organizations do not have a CPO (Chief Philosophy Officer)," he says.

Versatile Degree #3: Bachelor's in Engineering

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Cost Estimator 26%
Petroleum Engineer 26%
Environmental Engineer 15%
Have you always loved figuring out how things are put together and how to make them work? You just might find pursuing a bachelor's degree in engineering both fun and rewarding.
On top of that, an engineering degree can open you up to a wide range of potential career pursuits.
Why It May Be More Versatile: For McKeon, engineering is a highly versatile degree because the problem solving skills taught in this major can be applied to so many industries.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.
"Engineering students are trained to think through problems systematically so they can create implementable solutions," she says. "The degree itself focuses on real world problem solving through a mix of coursework and in-field study."
McKeon points out that since some ideas that look good on paper tend to fall apart in practice, engineering students are trained for real-world situations, giving them skills that can appeal to a wide range of employers, even outside the engineering world. An engineering student's ability to assess and distill large amounts of data enhances their attractiveness to employers, McKeon adds.

Limiting Degree #4: Bachelor's in Agriculture

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Farmer, Rancher -19%
The local and organic movement in the food and health industries may make you think the agriculture industry is booming. But the numbers tell a different story.
Why It May Limit Your Options: Berner thinks you might be more competitive for jobs in this sector by pursuing other avenues of study, especially if you want to branch out at all in your job search and qualify for more positions once you've earned your degree.
"As agribusiness continues to consolidate into mega-businesses, there will be a need for more specialized degrees and business orientations in this field," he says, rather than a bachelor's in agriculture.

Versatile Degree #4: Bachelor's in Elementary Education

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Elementary School Teacher 12%
Kindergarten Teacher 13%
Do you like working with children and sharing your knowledge? Okay, a degree in elementary education is clearly preparing you for one thing, teaching kids. However, if there were ever a degree built for pursuing many opportunities in lots of different parts of the country, it just might be a bachelor's in elementary education.
Think about it, virtually every school age child needs a teacher, and according to the U.S. Department of Labor, in teacher education programs, students are taught to work with young students with a variety of backgrounds and abilities.
Why It May Be More Versatile: According to Berner, earning a bachelor's in elementary education can open up doors to lots of teaching professions such as kindergarten teacher, elementary school teacher, or even a middle school teacher.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Elementary Education Program.
Furthermore, once you've got the right foundation for teaching and meet the certification requirements, it's a job, he says, that you can take anywhere geographically, where you might pursue both public or private positions for a variety of age groups. "There are lots of different levels and environments for teaching jobs," says Berner.

Limiting Degree #5: Bachelor's in English Literature

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
None Available N/A
If you're a bookworm who's equally happy reading the classics alongside the "Divergent" series, then studying English Literature probably sounds like a good fit. But for all the critical thinking and idea generating you'll do in your classes, it may be difficult for you to find work after graduation with this degree.
Why It May Limit Your Options: Even though an English Lit degree can provide you with a well-rounded education, Berner says employers often look for degrees that are related to work a person will do, and there aren't really any jobs out there where you can get paid to read books and write about your reactions to them.
In essence, English Literature is a highly specific degree, and unfortunately, "the more specific the degree, the more limiting will be one's job options," Berner says.

Versatile Degree #5: Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Career Options* Projected Job Growth 2012-2022**
Security Guard 12%
Private Detective 11%
How does learning the basic tenets of our justice system and how to uphold the law sound to you? If the answer is "good," then earning a bachelor's in criminal justice could be a great fit for your personality and interests.
Even better, once you graduate, you could be eligible to pursue a variety of correctional positions, as Berner points out.
Why It May Be More Versatile: Criminal justice degree holders can pursue a wide range of occupations with their diplomas, starting with security guard positions and up to police officer and detective jobs, says Berner.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Criminal Justice Program.
In addition, he says this field is also experiencing an uptick in jobs due to population growth. "The need for criminal justice services will always grow as a population increases," he says, and that means many more job opportunities for you to throw your hat in the ring for.

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