The Best and Worst Degrees for the Future

Earning a college education is key to being competitive in the job market, This article examines some of the best and worst degrees for the future.

Earning a college education is an essential component to remaining competitive in the job market, but not all degrees offer the same opportunities. This article examines some of the best and worst degrees for the future.

Obtaining a college degree can open up many doors to establishing a stable and fulfilling career. However, not all degrees guarantee consistent employment or long-term prospects for growth in the future. By examining trends in education and jobs, it’s much easier to determine what degree programs are worth exploring. Take a few moments to review some of the best and worst degrees for the years ahead so you can make a more informed decision about your education. 

Best Degrees

Breakthroughs like 5G internet and advancements in automation are continuing to reshape the world around us. Degrees in science, mathematics, and technology will become increasingly relevant in supporting the shift to a highly mobile, data-driven future. Some of the most promising degrees in the future will fulfill the need for creative solutions to the technical challenges of tomorrow. Here are just a few of the best degree programs to consider. 

Engineering: The number of bachelor’s degrees in engineering granted by postsecondary institutions in America has steadily increased over the past two decades. Pursuing an education in engineering offers many various career opportunities with competitive compensation. Petroleum engineering in particular has some of the highest-earning salaries with an average median wage of just over $129,000. Many engineering jobs across various industries are projected to remain in high demand for the foreseeable future. For instance, employment in civil engineering alone is expected to grow more than 8% by 2024.

Artificial Intelligence: AI has come a long way since the development of Deep Blue in 1997. Today, artificial intelligence governs many of the technologies that have become so integrated into all aspects of modern living. From self-driving cars to speech recognition software and IoT, artificial intelligence is the common thread pushing the frontiers of what computers can achieve. A survey by the World Economic Forum found that 73% of respondent companies expect to adopt machine learning technology into their operations by 2022. To facilitate this transition, individuals with degrees in artificial intelligence will play a pivotal role. 

Clinical Laboratory Technician: The market for medical devices is rapidly growing and on pace to exceed $600 billion by the end of 2023. Clinical laboratory technicians are responsible for operating today’s most cutting-edge medical equipment to test samples and organize data for healthcare professionals. Earning a degree as a clinical laboratory technician can offer a range of employment opportunities now and in the future, with job growth projected to increase by 7% over the next nine years. As of 2020, the median salary for clinical laboratory technicians is around $54,000 a year.

Worst Degrees

Some of the worst degrees for the future offer limited opportunities for job placement after graduation and starting pay is often relatively low. Degrees with the lowest growth potential tend to focus on generalized studies instead of a specialized niche. Many of the degrees that likely to perform poorly in the future require little technical knowledge or intensive training to acquire, limiting the scope of possibilities for advancement. Here are a few of the least attractive degree programs for building a successful career in the future.

Liberal Arts and Humanities: Individuals with a degree in humanities and liberal arts experience some of the highest rates of unemployment after graduation, with 9.4% of people failing to find adequate work once their education is completed. A degree in the humanities and arts doesn’t offer the best return on investment when considering the cost of tuition and starting pay. The average salary for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in humanities is around $53,000, representing a decrease of more than 5% since 2019. 

Culinary Arts: While working as a head chef is a viable career choice, pursuing a culinary arts degree is not necessarily a prerequisite to breaking into the food industry. For many, a few years of on-the-job training can provide the experience needed to build a successful career in this field. Most head cooks and chefs start out earning a median annual salary of around $53,000.

Communications: People with a degree in communications may experience some difficulty establishing a lucrative career after graduation. Estimates find that the unemployment rate for college graduates majoring in communications is 3.6% while another 54.1% report being underemployed. For many who find work in communications after college, the median wage is a meager $40,000 a year.

It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of degree programs while keeping a keen eye on how the future will shape the job market. As the cost of higher education continues to climb, students should consider which degree programs they pursue. Degrees that focus on technology will continue to yield many opportunities over the next decade as mechanization and automation become more prevalent. 


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