15 High-Demand College Degrees for the New Economy

The economy is poised for a rebound, with job growth in health care, science R&D, and information technology leading the way. With the right career training, you can tap into some of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S. These fifteen associate, bachelor's degrees, and master's degrees set you up for opportunity in the decade ahead.

15 College Degrees Most Likely to Succeed

The U.S. Department of Labor has named the occupations most likely to flourish in the decade from 2008 to 2018. The top careers on this list will see booming double-digit growth, from 53 percent for network systems administrators (#1) to 27 percent for physician assistants (#30). Other occupations will drive job growth through sheer volume. The health care sector, for example, could add as many as 587,000 nursing jobs through 2018.

  1. Master of Business Administration (MBA). The MBA is the gold standard for business administration and management education. Advance into a leadership role with this master's degree, which covers accounting, finance, management, marketing, and other business fundamentals.
  2. Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering. Environmental engineering ingenuity holds promise for solving the pressing environmental problems of the 21st century. Use your bachelor's degree to reverse the effects of global warming and pollution, or develop alternative energy sources.
  3. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An aging population and new medical treatments are driving demand for nurses. Help patients on the frontlines of medical care with a bachelor's degree in nursing.
  4. Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems (MIS). Information technology systems are the backbone of our economy. Businesses, public agencies, and other organizations rely on trained MIS graduates to maintain a secure and reliable information network.
  5. Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting. Medical assistants are among the fastest-growing occupational group, with 35 percent job growth predicted through 2018. A two-year associate's degree prepares you to keep a doctor's office or medical clinic running smoothly.
  6. Bachelor of Science in Accounting. The 2008 financial crisis is sowing new career opportunity for forensic accountants and other financial professionals charged with enforcing federal regulations and reporting requirements. Tap into this career trend with a BS in accounting.
  7. Master of Science in Veterinary Medicine. Veterinarians rank among the top ten fastest growing occupations, and veterinary technicians come in at number five, with 35 and 41 percent job growth, respectively. Start with an associate's degree for the technician job, and work toward the MS in veterinary medicine to boost your earning power.
  8. Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering. Software engineers are leading innovation in both computer applications and systems software development. Job growth ranges from 28 to 45 percent, depending on your chosen career path.
  9. Associate's Degree in Dental Hygiene. A two-year associate's degree in dental hygiene leads to a career with generous benefits, a flexible schedule, and now, a robust economic outlook as well. The BLS expects dental hygienist employment to grow 36 percent in the coming decade.
  10. Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. A BS in computer science provides a versatile degree for a variety of high-growth careers. Computer systems analysts, database administrators, network analysts, and software engineers are among the top-performing career paths open to computer science graduates.
  11. Master of Public Administration (MPA). Government agencies will continue to add trained program directors and administrators, as stimulus spending and a new administration boost investment in public services. The graduate MPA features training in policy and public management.
  12. Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance. Information has never flowed more freely, nor been so valuable to businesses and individuals. Information assurance bachelor's degrees train IT professionals to secure data and networks, in an effort to keep confidential information private yet accessible.
  13. Associate's Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science. Training in lab science puts you in line for several of the BLS' fastest-growing careers and industries. Forensic science technicians and environmental science technicians are both on track for 30 percent job growth. The medical diagnostic testing and biomedical research sectors are also fueling demand for lab scientists.
  14. Associate's Degree in Visual Communications. This versatile applied arts degree focuses on the technical skills and principles of communicating with images. A visual communications degree leads to high-demand jobs in Web development, Internet advertising, entertainment, and online media journalism.
  15. Associate's or Master's Degree in Physical Therapy. With more and more older adults in need of adaptive and therapeutic physical training, physical therapists are experiencing rising demand. Therapists and their assistants can expect job growth of around 30 percent. The associate's degree gets you started as an assistant, and the master's degree qualifies you for certification as a therapist.

Choose the right degree to tap into tomorrow's brightest opportunities. Whether you choose a technical associate's degree or a health care master's program, you'll find a market for your skills in the new economy.


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