Which Degrees Win and Lose the Employer Popularity Contest?

Which Degrees Win and Lose the Employer Popularity ContestIf you’re in college or headed there, you’re probably thinking a lot about your major. How many other people are going to graduate with the exact same skills as you? How many employers are seeking to hire people with these skills? Do employers like to see this degree, or do they feel neutral about it?

A new study conducted by CareerBuilder suggests that we’ve hit a plateau in terms of how many people are graduating with degrees annually. Over the past two years, the number of new college degrees awarded in the US has remained essentially the same. What has changed, however, is the popularities of different degree programs.

It might be obvious that since the recession, more students have abandoned their Humanities hopes and dreams in favor of the safe and stable STEM fields. 6/10 of the fastest-growing disciplines are STEM, and the science technology degree field is currently the fastest-growing. Over the four-year period ending last year, 49% more science/technology degrees were awarded, followed closely by math and statistics (up 35%), computer science (up 32%), precision production (up 30%), and engineering (increased by 26%). Natural resources and public administration degrees also made appearances in the top 10.

Fewer students are earning degrees in military technologies, library science, and education in recent years, though they have not dropped as drastically as the other fields have risen.

The big picture, though, is that college students respond to a tougher job market by flocking to more sensible degree programs in hopes of earning more money. While it’s a smart move in today’s market, it’s important to remember that the landscape is ever-changing and there is always the possibility that degree popularities – and the competition/demand – could change drastically in a year or two.

It’s important to consider that we are seeing more students graduate with STEM degrees, but we’re still not seeing more degrees being rewarded. It’s entirely possible that the shifted focus could result in a demand for more Humanities students – students who earned degrees that focused on communication, critical thinking, design, et cetera. Plenty of employers – nearly 50% — say that they are currently struggling to fill some of their company’s positions that require more nuanced skills.

If you’re looking for advice on which college degree program to enter, the advice is this: keep current in your research about the job market, get experience, and look for in-demand concentrations to your major if necessary. Because things change so quickly and dramatically, it’s important to stay in the know.