Want a degree that will give you an edge in the job market? Consider starting one of these programs in the New Year.
Are you planning on heading back to school in 2013, but aren't sure which degree to pursue?
Before you make any decisions about your education, Alexandra Levit, author of "New Job New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career," suggestsyou first evaluate how a degree program will prepare you to pursue a certain career.
To help you narrow down your options, we talked to some career experts to get the skinny on careers with strong job outlooks. From there, we took a look at the U.S. Department of Labor to identify which degrees could help you in your pursuit of each career.
Keep reading to learn more about seven hot degree options to consider.
Topping off our list of degrees to consider starting in 2013 is accounting.
Here's why: Every business is driven by numbers, says Laurence Shatkin, co-author of "College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs, 3rd Ed."
"As businesses get back on their feet over the next several years, the demand for people with accounting degrees will grow," says Shatkin.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field is required for most accountant positions. As for job growth, employment is projected to grow by 16 percent from 2010 to 2020. That translates to roughly 190,000 new positions!
More About the Degree: According to the College Board, a nonprofit organization that administers tests like the SAT, students pursuing accounting degrees learn to analyze financial information and record financial transactions. These students typically learn to prepare tax filings, create and analyze balance sheets, and learn to use generally accepted accounting principles.
Another in-demand degree to consider starting in 2013: management.
While it's true that its helpful to specialize in a niche, such as finance, human resources or business information systems, Shatkin says that companies are always looking for new management talent.
And one career to consider is management analyst. Why? Companies are increasingly searching for consulting services to control costs and improve efficiency.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost 100,000 analyst jobs will be added. And - surprise, surprise - a bachelor's degree is required.
More About the Degree: Business management students prepare to plan, organize, and direct an organization's activities, according to the College Board. It also notes that you could take courses where you'll discuss case studies - descriptions of challenges that real companies face - a great way to bridge the gap between the classroom and a career.
If you like working with technology, consider making 2013 the year you start your computer science degree.
Levit says that a degree in computer science is highly marketable and desirable to hiring managers because of its relevant training and skills in a very specific field.
More About the Degree: As a computer science major, you might learn about computer programming, software design, computer systems, and how people interact with computers, according to the College Board.
Next on our list of degrees to consider starting in 2013: communications.
According to Shatkin, communications degrees will be in demand due to the continued growth of television channels, streaming video, and the Internet. Basically, as long as the world continues to communicate with each other - these degrees will remain in demand.
As for career options for communications degree grads, the U.S. Department of Labor notes it as an option for reporters, news analysts, editors, and technical writers.
More About the Degree: Communications students examine different theories of communication, while exploring all aspects of the communication field, according to the College Board. They might also learn about communication across cultures, persuasion, and how individuals communicate with each other.
This next degree can prepare you for a career that has the highest percentage of projected job growth through 2020 on our list: graphic design.
According to Shatkin, beginning this degree program in 2013 is a good bet because "there is so much on the web that has to have visual appeal."
And he may be on to something. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, graphic design jobs - which typically require a bachelor's degree in graphic design - are expected to grow by a whopping 61 percent from 2010 to 2020 in computer systems design and related fields.
More About the Degree: As a student of graphic design, you might learn to work with type and images to create the look for items such as CD inserts, posters, books, magazines, websites, and other products, says the College Board.
Another degree to consider starting in 2013 is a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering. Why? Because job prospects for petroleum engineering grads are abundant.
In fact, "There is a shortage of petroleum engineers already," says Shatkin. "Universities can't turn out graduates with degrees in petroleum engineering fast enough."
And the U.S. Department of Labor agrees, saying that more engineers will be needed to drill on each project. The reason? Oil drilling processes are likely to become more complex.
More About the Degree: As a student of a petroleum engineering program, the College Board says you might learn about the process of making petroleum into a product, as well as how to remove it from the earth. You could also learn about environmental issues, adds the College Board.
Last but not least, our final degree you might want to think about starting in 2013: mechanical engineering.
Shatkin suggests that several expanding fields will require expertise in mechanical engineering. One big one is manufacturing, as companies look to refine production. Another is the growing field of solar power. Careers in these fields will drive demand for people with degrees in mechanical engineering, he says.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports, "nearly all entry-level mechanical engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering." Job prospects will be best for those who stay up-to-date of the advances in technology, according to the Department of Labor.
More About the Degree: As a mechanical engineering student, you might get to learn all about the science that goes into making machines work, says the College Board. Students might also learn how to design gadgets and improve old ones as part of a team.
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