Top 7 Degrees For Re-Entering The Workforce

Best Degrees For Getting Re-Hired

If you're one of the long-term unemployed, one of these degrees could help you get back in the game.

By Tricia Tongco

Consumers are shopping again. Housing prices are no longer in freefall. And even more importantly, unemployment is on the decline. With the economy in recovery mode, what's the best way to launch yourself back into the workforce?

"When you're trying to re-enter the workforce, you're introducing yourself to a world of people who don't know you and don't inherently 'get' you," says Matt Berndt, a campus career coach and the director of career services at CSO Research, a career center solutions company. "So, your job is to make them understand who you are, what you have to offer, and what you're looking for."

After the recession and its long stretch of high unemployment, it makes sense to want a promising job outlook. According to Berndt, if the goal is to transition directly into a job, then you'll want to select a degree in an industry that has a great need for job candidates and that will train you to do a specific job in the marketplace.

We've pored over a number of studies and U.S. Department of Labor statistics to figure out which degrees might give you the best shot in today's professional world. Whether you've been unable to find a job or decided to opt out of working to spend time with your family, studying these fields will help prepare you with the skills and knowledge to make you a valuable employee in today's labor market.

Don't look back at this period of discouraging unemployment; instead, look ahead to a future full of possibility, low unemployment rates, and high job growth. Put away your resume, stop pounding the pavement, and look over our list of the best degrees for re-entering the working world.

Degree #1: Elementary Education

Find Degree Programs

Unemployment Rate: 5%*

Do you love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in the morning? Or reading stories to young children? Then majoring in elementary education could be the right path for you. And for anyone who's been through long spells of unemployment, you'll be happy to know that recent college graduates who majored in elementary education report one of the lowest unemployment rates.

"Education can be appealing as a transitional degree, because there is a clear set of credentials you need for a school to be able to hire you," notes Berndt.

As an education major, you'll learn how to "design and teach inspiring lessons and help students succeed no matter what their age, background, or learning style," according to the College Board, an educational organization that administers aptitude tests like the SAT. Typical courses could include educational psychology, teaching methods, and philosophy of education.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Elementary Education Program.

Related Careers and Projected Growth From 2010-2020**:

  • Elementary school teacher: 17%
  • Middle school teacher: 17%
  • Special education teacher: 17%

Degree #2: Nursing

Find Degree Programs

Unemployment Rate: 4.8%

Would you consider yourself a caregiver with an inquisitive mind? If you major in nursing, you could learn how to figure out the mystery behind a patient's symptoms. For those re-entering the workforce who want to help others, this in-demand degree is perfect.

"Our population is aging, so nursing is an area of great growth right now," says Berndt. He adds that if you're looking for a job that's portable, you can be a nurse almost anywhere. "Nursing is one of those areas that is available in almost every community in the country.

The demand for nursing is reflected in the Georgetown Report, which notes that nursing is the major with the lowest unemployment rate among recent grads. It is also listed as one of the top 50 fastest-growing occupations with a typical entry-level education of an associate's degree, according to CareerOne Stop, a source for employment information funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. From 2010 to 2020, the Department of Labor projects that there will be 711,900 jobs added for registered nurses.

In a nursing program, your instruction could include working in a hospital or another health care setting, says the College Board. Typical courses could include health assessment, anatomy and physiology, and chemistry.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

Related Careers and Projected Growth From 2010-2020:

  • Registered nurse: 26%

Degree #3:
Health Care Administration

Find Degree Programs

Unemployment Rate: 4.6%

With the baby-boomer population aging and people remaining active later in life, the health care industry will experience a spike in demand for medical services, states the U.S. Department of Labor. In turn, there'll be an increase in the number of facilities, and health care administrators will be needed to manage medical information and staff. This makes for an industry with high growth and a low unemployment rate - both good news for people who have experienced the challenges of unemployment.

"Health care will be a big economic driver, and there will need to be administrators who help support doctors and nurses in nonmedical ways," says Berndt.

If you choose to study health services administration, you could learn all aspects of overseeing health care facilities and services, says the College Board. Typical courses include health care policy, anatomy and physiology, and human resources management, according to the College Board.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

Related Careers and Projected Growth From 2010-2020:

  • Medical or health services manager: 22%

Degree #4: Computer Science

Find Degree Programs

Unemployment Rate: 8.7%

Do you consider yourself both analytical and imaginative? Studying computer science encourages you to develop both of these traits and offers bright job prospects. Although the Georgetown study reports a slightly higher unemployment rate, this major is still very marketable for people who are re-entering the workforce.

"Technology drives so much of what we do - just look at the cell phones that seem to be surgically attached to our hands," says Berndt. "There's a great demand for people who develop, craft, and manage [computer] applications."

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' "Job Outlook 2013," a bachelor's in computer and information sciences is considered one of the "top degrees in demand," with 65.3% of companies polled saying that they will hire students with this educational background.

Students in a computer science program may study the way humans and computers collaborate from a scientific perspective, says the College Board. They typically take courses in artificial intelligence, digital system design, and software engineering.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Related Careers and Projected Growth From 2010-2020:

  • Computer systems analyst: 22%
  • Web developer: 22%
  • Computer network architect: 22%

Degree #5: Accounting

Find Degree Programs

Unemployment Rate: 8.8%

Do you want to learn how to interpret numbers for companies or individuals? Accounting students do just that, and having a head for numbers can really pay off. With this valuable degree, you might not be unemployed for long.

According to the NACE study, 58.7% of companies surveyed state they would hire graduates with a bachelor's in accounting. "Everybody pays taxes, so everyone's going to need accountants," says Berndt. "Accounting is one of those core things that everyone, individuals and businesses, uses at least once in their life or in many cases, frequently."

An accounting major prepares you for analyzing financial information and consulting with upper management about important business decisions, says the College Board. Typical courses could include auditing, tax accounting, and business law, notes the College Board.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Related Careers and Projected Growth From 2010-2020:

  • Accountant: 16%
  • Financial examiner: 27%

Degree #6: Business Administration

Find Degree Programs

Unemployment Rate: 7.8%

Are you ready to take on challenges and potentially reap rewards in the business world? Then it might be time to earn that bachelor's degree in business administration. It's a top degree according to the NACE study, which reports that 55.6% of employers surveyed would hire students with the degree. So, this degree could make you incredibly attractive during your job search.

And for business majors, there seem to be opportunities everywhere. "Everything is a business - every government, school, church, or not-for-profit," says Berndt. "No organization of any kind is going to be successful without sound business principles."

As a business administration and management major, you could develop your leadership, speaking, and writing skills, says the College Board. You would typically take courses in business ethics and law, economics, and marketing.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Related Careers and Projected Growth From 2010-2020:

  • Market research analyst: 41%
  • Financial analyst: 23%

Degree #7: Engineering

Find Degree Programs

Unemployment Rate: 7%

Want to learn how things work, from robots to the Brooklyn Bridge? Engineering may be just the degree to launch yourself back into the working world. In addition to a relatively low unemployment rate reported for recent college graduates with the major, The NACE reports that 74% of responding companies say they'd hire engineering graduates.

According to Berndt, engineering is a broad field with many different specializations and varying levels of demand in the marketplace, but petroleum, mechanical, civil, and environmental engineers are the most in-demand.

As an engineering student, you could apply math and science to solve practical problems and help create everything from spacecrafts to MP3 players, according to the College Board. You would typically take courses in economics and ethics for engineers, physics, and scientific visualization, notes the College Board.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.

Related Careers and Projected Growth From 2010-2020:

  • Administrative services managers: 15%
  • Computer support specialists: 18%
  • Construction managers: 17%

* Unemployment rates from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings 2013." Unemployment rates are associated with recent college graduates, which the report defines as bachelor's degree holders between ages 22 and 26.

** All career options listed are based on information from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook. The degrees are named by the Department of Labor as being either required or preferred by employers, or common as preparation for the associated career. In some instances, the degree may not be the only educational or professional requirement for a career. All career growth projections from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 edition.

Next Article:

@Yahoo_Education on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

    Find the Right School