38 Hot Careers for College Grads

If you’re graduating this spring, we have good news: according to a recent study by Michigan State University’s College Employment Research Institute, the job market for new grads is the hottest it’s been since the Great Recession of 2007–2009, and possibly even the dot-com boom in 1999–2000. The study, which surveyed 5,700 employers last fall, projected that hiring for 2015 grads with bachelor’s degrees would increase 16 percent by this spring. That’s more than twice the increase in hiring for 2014 grads.

Seventy four percent of the surveyed employers rated the overall job market as good to excellent, and 97 percent said they would hire at least one new college graduate this year.

The hottest career area? Healthcare. With the aging Baby Boomer generation needing increasingly more health services, and with the federal Affordable Care Act boosting the number of newly insured, the medical field is in dire need of qualified workers. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor expects the healthcare field to add the most new jobs between 2012 and 2022, accounting for nearly one-third of the total projected increase in jobs.

Of course, many fast-growing jobs in the healthcare field—including physician’s assistant, physical therapist, nurse practitioner, occupational therapy assistant, diagnostic medical sonographer and speech language pathologist—require an advanced degree that typically takes an additional two to three years of classes. Going back to school might be the last thing you want to do right now, but when you consider the return on your investment of additional time and money, it might be worth it. For example, Glassdoor, which lists physician’s assistant as the number one job on its list of 25 Best Jobs in America for 2015, says there are 45,484 job openings for physician’s assistants, with an average base salary of $111,376. Pay for nurse practitioners and physical therapists is also attractive. Glassdoor puts the average base salary of a nurse practitioner at $95,171, while CareerBuilder, which has its own list of top jobs for 2015, says the median annual salary is $67,620. Physical therapists start at an average of $64,806 according to Glassdoor, while CareerBuilder puts the median annual salary at $80,350. Other good options in the healthcare field that don’t require a graduate degree include dental assistant, personal care aide and home health aide.

Healthcare jobs hold nine of the top 13 spots on U.S. News & World Report’s 25 Best Jobs of 2015, with the remaining four careers in another field with high growth and earnings potential—technology. Our world is increasingly governed by and dependent on technology, and those who can make a career in that field will probably never want for well-paid work. The top tech careers on the U.S. News list are software developer, computer systems analyst, information security analyst and web developer, with median salaries from $63,160 to $92,660.

Glassdoor also lists several tech jobs—computer software engineer, database administrator, solutions architect, network engineer, IT project manager and mobile developer—in its top 25, with average starting salaries ranging from $79,810 to $121,657. Tech careers hold three of the 10 slots on CareerBuilder’s list. Software applications developer is at number two (median annual pay $92,892), with network and computer system administrator ($74,547) and web developer ($58,281) in the number five and six spots.

Engineering is also an expanding field, with mechanical engineer, civil engineer, industrial engineer, electrical engineer, QA engineer, chemical engineer, environmental engineer and sales engineer showing up on top-jobs lists for engineering majors entering the job market in 2015.

Graduates who majored in business or finance will be in demand as well, with the positions of business analyst, cost estimator, accountant, financial analyst and personal financial advisor all expected to show above-average growth.

Majored in communications or marketing? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, one of the strongest career fields is marketing, with an expected 32 percent increase in market research and marketing specialist job opportunities by 2022. Only three other fields are expected to show growth over 30 percent—meetings and event planners (33 percent), information security analysts (37 percent) and interpreters and translators (46 percent).

To see the outlook for other careers, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Fast Fact:

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employees’ Job Outlook 2015, 68.1 percent of employers plan to screen Class of 2015 candidates by GPA. Of those that screen, 65 percent use a 3.0 GPA as a cutoff. Employers also scan resumes for key skills—the most important being leadership skills, followed by the ability to work in a team, written communication skills and problem-solving.

Higher One $tart with Change: 38 Hot Careers for College Grads

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Showing 9 comments
  • Erika Reddick

    All employers expect employees to be experienced in more than one field of service. Employers should offer the pay that employees deserve when they are highly qualified candidate.

  • Nithsie C Moleus

    I would love to find a great job!!!

  • Rebecca

    The GPA does not show intelligence, college does not measure intelligence of a topic, it shows how much a student can remember over a span of 9 months. It’s based on memory and not skills. They shouldn’t have a cutoff using GPA as a basis.

  • Sheila Bonner

    Great! Article about 38 careers for college grads, I getting an accounting degree I now feel confident I chosen the right field!

  • Carmen Harman

    This article was very informative. I’m a graduate with a M.Ed in Adm & Supv. And B.A.in Modern Language & Linguistics however I’m a Native Spanish Bilingual & only just completed half of the RN program and however I barely missed the passing grades to continue. This may not be a bad thing because this article shows me other greAt avenues that I can take. Thanks!!

  • G

    Aren’t these jobs always in demand? Let’s be honest here.

  • June Clemons

    My major question is this. Say you have a master’s in budiness Com Munising and you are working for a master’s in human resources. Can you obtain a job in event planning?

  • DeForrest G. Fryer

    Seeking employment in Business. The information that has been given through this site has been very informative.

  • Diana

    I agree that GPA does not measure intelligence but I also agree with a GPA cut off is necessary. Why should a person with a lower GPA get the job that I want and am qualified for when my GPA is 3.5