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Careers By Degrees: Entry-Level Job Prospects Guide College Choices

Careers By Degrees: Entry-Level Job Prospects Guide College Choices

The Buffalo News

September 28, 2009

“It’s one thing to read about a stressful environment in a book, it’s another thing to be there and see people biting their nails,” he said.

Here are what Shatkin found to be the most secure college majors for entry-level jobs overall:

10. Actuarial Science: Average annual earnings: $85,690; Minimum degree: Bachelor’s

This math-heavy major prepares students for careers in insurance and investment. Advanced courses in math, economics, computers and finance teach students how to analyze and forecast risk. For example, a graduate may find work for an insurance company, calculating the cost of auto insurance premiums.

9. Veterinary Medicine: Average annual earnings: $75,230; Minimum degree: Doctorate of veterinary medicine plus state licensing.

The college major says it all — graduates in this field care for the physical health of animals. The course load includes a wide spectrum of scientific study, as well as a smattering of math and social sciences. Grads have a host of specializations from which to choose, such as veterinary dentistry, zoological medicine and veterinary anesthesiology.

8. Hospital/Health Facilities Administration: Average annual earnings: $76,990; Minimum degree: Bachelor’s, but a master’s is preferred

Careers in health care are often seen as “recession proof,” because people continue to get sick no matter what the economy is doing. Often, the first career paths that come to mind are those that lead to traditional medical occupations, such as doctors and nurses. Yet there are several health-related occupations that slip under the radar. There is all kinds of supporting work done in health care that doesn’t involve treating patients, but is important nonetheless.

Students in this field learn how to manage health care facilities. They go on to supervise and lead facilities or departments for clinics, hospitals and doctors’ offices as well as public and community health systems. Coursework includes a foundation in liberal arts and sciences along with specialized health, medical and business studies.

7. Health Information Systems Administration: Average annual earnings: $76,990 Minimum degree: Bachelor’s, often plus a certificate

This major prepares students to deal with health information and medical records in every way imaginable, something that may increase in importance as the medical industry veers toward digital record keeping.

Careers may include storing, collecting or analyzing data, as well as designing ways to manage, deliver or keep it safe. A diverse array of courses include several health, business and technical classes. A common specialization is information technology.

6. Medicine: Average annual earnings: $145,600; Minimum degree: Doctorate of medicine, plus three to eight years of residency training.

No surprise here, eh? Medical doctors have always been necessary and — barring any revolutionary, Star Trek-like treatment breakthroughs —r they always will be.

A long, rigorous educational career focuses heavily on training in mathematics and science.

5. Graduate Study for College Teaching: Average annual earnings: $56,567; Minimum degree: Master’s or doctorate, depending on subject matter

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Right?

Well, not exactly. But Shatkin’s research found that students with advanced study in almost any field can make a career of teaching that same material upon graduation, making it a dependable Plan B for many. Education employment remains stable during times of recession and pays pretty well.

4. Pharmacy: Average annual earnings: $100,480; Minimum degree: Doctorate of pharmacy

Students typically go on to be pharmacists, but have a wide range of specialties from which to choose. They may also never step foot in an actual pharmacy, choosing instead to work in such places as managed care facilities and hospitals or as consultants.

Course work includes math and science training, especially in chemistry.

3. Physical Therapy: Average annual earnings: $69,760; Minimum degree: Master’s

Students will likely go on to become physical therapists, working directly with patients to ease pain and increase physical mobility. Expect lots of science classes, especially variations on anatomy and physiology.

2. Nursing (registered nurse training): Average annual earnings: $60,010; Minimum degree: Associate

Nursing shortages have been highly publicized and the need for nurses shows no sign of letting up. The Labor Department projects an average of 233,499 annual job openings for graduates trained in this field.

A science-heavy course load is rounded out by social science and math training.

1. Physician Assisting: Average annual earnings: $78,450; Minimum degree: Bachelor’s

As physician assistants, graduates will diagnose and treat patients under the (sometimes limited) supervision of a medical doctor. They perform several of the functions of traditional medical doctors, but are considered a more cost-effective alternative. More than half of all physician assistants work in doctor’s offices or clinics.

Bachelor’s preparation for the field is often accelerated, and is heavy in math and science. As with most medically associated majors, clinical and lab work is also required.

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