Thinking about going back to school? A recent study finds programs that give graduates specific skills in niche areas could be best for future employment.
Are you thinking about going back to school and wondering what to study?
The best advice may be: Think specific.
According to a recent report, going niche and honing your skills for a specific career could be the keys to expanding your career prospects.
In its 2010 trend report on the hottest career options for college graduates, the University of California at San Diego Extension used enrollment data, national employment statistics, and interviews with business executives to find the hottest careers for recent college grads.
To help back-to-schoolers, we've pored through the data and matched the hot career trends with the right degrees.
Hot Career #1 – Video Game Development
According to UCSD Extension, an estimated 200 million people play video games online each month. This career track is hot largely due to the surge in popularity of casual gaming (online video games played on sites like Facebook).
Hot Factor: Casual gaming accounts for a much broader demographic than games built for consoles like the Xbox. And keep in mind that there are also plenty of related positions in marketing and video games sales.
Graphic Designer: $42,400
Multi-Media Artist and Animator: $56,330
Market Research Analyst: $61,070
Hot Career #2 – Health Care
UCSD Extension referenced oncology clinical trials as just one example of why health care careers are taking off. Clinical trials design and management for oncology involves cancer care studies, which are creating career opportunities for everyone from health care managers and nurses to medical assistants and health care technicians.
Hot Factor: Health care is a red hot degree right now, having finished first in a survey of human resources professionals of college degrees most likely to get you hired in 2010, according to corporate consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Medical Assistant: $28,300
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist: $53,500
Registered Nurse: $62,450
Medical and Health Services Managers: $80,240
Hot Career #3 – Database Mining & Database Engineering
Databases are big and getting bigger. A study from a different California university - UC Berkeley - found that the amount of data doubles on a global scale every three years. The UCSD Extension report echoes the Berkeley study by selecting data mining as a trendy career track.
Hot Factor: Data mining often involves sophisticated search techniques and analysis for ways companies can cut costs and increase revenue. Always evolving technology and new statistical algorithms are pushing data mining in new and exciting directions. Database developers and engineers are needed to feed these growing needs.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators: $66,310
Computer Programmers: $69,620
Database Administrators: $69,740
Network Systems and Data Communication Analysts: $71,100
Hot Career #4 – Engineering and Computer Science
Engineering degrees account for four of the five highest paid majors for the class of 2010, with computer science as the only non-engineering degree to crack the top five, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Summer 2010 Salary Survey.
Within the field, the UCSD Extension report identified embedded engineering as a big business and hot career trend. The cutting edge technology involves developing, programming and designing complex embedded computer systems, like the tiny microprocessor inside your computer.
Hot Factor: Not only do students with engineering degrees have the potential to earn big bucks, but the field is expected to grow at a fast pace over the next eight years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Computer Applications Software Engineer: $85,430
Computer Systems Software Engineer: $92,430
Computer and Information Scientist: $97,970
Computer and Information Systems Manager: $112,210.
*Salary data represents the mean annual wage in May 2008, according to The U.S. Department of Labor.