Going Back to College? Consider These Careers in Growing Fields

How your college education can help you stay on top of shifting career trends.

Photo: ThinkStock

By Jeff Bellinghausen

Considering going back to college but not sure what you should study? The shifting job market, from the rise of technology and the fall of our economy, can make choosing a college major or certificate program and your subsequent career path seem especially challenging. How do you know which areas will be thriving when you’ve completed your degree or certificate program?

Although the large number of layoffs in a variety of fields is often in the news, labor experts predict that there will be significant job growth in a variety of career sectors over the next decade, as some jobs will grow in important and new career fields will be identified that fulfill the needs of our changing times.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data shows that careers in Technology and Health & Medical Services are expected to offer the largest number of new careers in the next few years. But to be prepared to work in these areas, a degree may not be enough. To compete in today’s job market, many believe the key to finding a thriving career is to pursue desired majors while obtaining skills and experience in related fields.

For example, students who are Computer Science majors may want to learn about, or specialize in, Computer and Information Systems Security, Information Assurance (CIS, Internet Security), which is a growing concern in businesses and could help their job applications stand out from other applicants’. And students with majors in Engineering may want to study green technology, which is growing in importance for companies in a variety of industries. Also, while the financial industry has seen tremendous job losses in recent months, students with an interest in Finance could specialize in risk management, an area that will assist financial organizations with mitigating risk and building up their businesses.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the technology sector will see growth in areas such as computer-network administration, Web development and data-loss prevention. To work in these areas, students going back to school for their college degrees should pursue majors including computer science, Information Systems and Information Science/Studies. But they would also be wise to supplement their studies by taking courses in fields as diverse as Marketing or Accounting, in order to better prepare them for working with different departments and understanding their needs.

In the health care sector, the areas of Physical Therapy/Therapist and Occupational Therapy/Therapist are projected to grow in coming years. And new career specialties, such as hospital risk management and managing the relationship between the health practitioner and the insurance company, will be increasingly important. Supplementing a college degree with a specialty in one of these new fields can help make candidates even more desirable to employers.

The importance of the Web in most aspects of our daily lives is leading to a growing number of new Web-related jobs and specialties. Understanding social media, for example, can be a valuable skill in many careers, from marketing and public relations to Web analytics. Students who are interested in design may want to broaden their skills by learning user-experience design, which involves how users interact with products, such as Web pages.

The green field, like the Web, is also opening the doors to new careers. Experts point out that green construction and building alternative-energy systems, such as wind energy and solar energy, will require skilled employees ranging from engineers and technicians who can design, build and maintain these systems to consultants who can review and make recommendations about a company’s energy needs.

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