Best Degrees to Get in 2020
It’s a jobseeker’s market.
The job market is on steady growth patterns for the year. Since the job market is often seen as an indicator of the health of the economy, this is good news for students headed to college—there will be jobs for graduates with the right degrees. During economic downturns, jobs are harder to find, and the jobs that do appear on the market reflect these conditions.
The job market is one that follows the rules of supply and demand. Some industries are seeing record growth and increased demand, while others are turning stagnant. Unsurprisingly, there are many jobs being created in renewable energy as more of the country pivots to going green. Likewise, as our dependency on technology and internet-enabled devices increases, there is a lot of demand for people skilled in app development and cybersecurity. Students interested in these fields should consider a degree in computer science.
Data is also one of the biggest topics across all areas of the economy, so there is an incredible demand for people that understand statistics, mathematics, and advanced mathematical modeling. Degrees in statistics and mathematics are essential for these fields.
One trend is absolutely certain: there has been an increased demand for healthcare-related careers. This is largely because the baby boomer population continues to age and experience greater medical needs. Areas that featured the most growth in the healthcare industry were at the assistant or aide level which shows that good help is hard to find. These jobs are good entry-level positions that help people get a start in the healthcare sector. You can learn more about predicted trends in the job market by checking out the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Without further ado, this is EDsmart’s list of ten best majors and career choices that can land you a position in the future job market.
Best Degrees to Get in 2020
Master of Science – Physician Assistant
Job: Physician Assistant
Median Salary in 2018: $108,610
A master of science in a health-related specialty is one of the best degrees to get for any kind of advanced health care practice. It’s easy to see why—the Master of Science showcases your ability and skill, making it one of the top degrees in healthcare.
A physician assistant is NOT to be confused with a medical assistant. A medical assistant generally performs clerical administrative tasks in the healthcare workplace. A physician assistant practices medicine and works with patients. They may review medical histories, perform exams, diagnose injuries and illness, treat patients, and more. PAs can also further specialize in areas like primary care, emergency, surgery or even psychiatric care.
To become a Physician Assistant first requires a bachelor’s degree with a strong focus on health care or biology. It then requires enrolling in a PA program, 2000+ clinical hours as well as the completion of the five-hour Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). This process can take upwards of six years. Once that is all complete, PAs are required to complete 100 hours of continuing education every two years and recertify every 10 years.
Physician assistant is a career field that is expected to grow by 37% from 2016 to 2026, a much faster rate than all other occupations, with an estimated 39,600 jobs being added to the market.
Master of Science – Nursing
Job: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (Nurse Practitioner)
Median Salary in 2018: $113,930
A master of science in nursing is one of the best degrees to earn for a career in nursing—especially in the near future. With many registered nurses retiring and leaving the workforce, there is a massive deficit of nurses with advanced skills. Also, with the number of elderly people increasing, there is an increasing demand for people to look after them.
Nurse practitioners, referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) may work in a variety of roles such as anesthetists, midwives, nurses and more. They have many duties as it relates to a patient’s treatment and can perform examinations, create care plans, perform diagnostic tests, and diagnose health problems.
APRNs are registered nurses. This means that for a student to achieve this position, they would first have to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related health science area (preferably nursing), become a registered nurse by passing the licensing exam, and then complete an APRN master degree program. Students can opt to continue their education with a doctorate in nursing as well.
This career is expected to grow 31% in the next seven years, with 64,200 new jobs being added to the market.
Master of Science—Statistics / Master of Mathematics
Median Salary: $88,190
Data is the hottest topic in all aspects of business, science, and research. There is lots of work and money available for people that can collect data, understand it, and interpret it into usable insights. Because of this, statisticians are in high demand right now. This reliance on data is unlikely to go away any time soon, making this one of the best degrees for the future. You’ll almost always have a job.
Statisticians analyze data and apply mathematical models and statistical techniques to identify and solve problems in a wide variety of real-world situations. This could be in fields like business, engineering, healthcare, and even customer relations.
While you can become a statistician with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, economics, or computer science, these jobs are rare. Typically, either a master of science in statistics or a master of mathematics are the best degrees for this job. Course work can include studies in calculus, differential equations, linear and abstract algebra, as well as courses in the desired area of specialization (a science-related topic, engineering, business, etc.). A masters degree in statistics or mathematics is one of the top master’s degrees in demand right now, and you’ll see this degree again on our listing.
This career is expected to grow by 33% in the near future, adding 13,500 jobs to the market.
Associate Degree—Physical Therapy
Job: Physical therapist assistant
Median Salary: $48,090
Physical therapist assistants work under the direction of physical therapists. They help patients recovering from injuries or illness to regain control of their movement and mitigate the pain associated with an injury. Unlike aides that do the clerical work or set up treatment areas, assistants are directly involved in patient care.
To become a physical therapist assistant, you have to earn an associate degree from an accredited program. These programs typically take two years to complete. Physical therapist assistants are also required to be licensed or certified depending on your local state laws. Typical course work includes subjects like kinesiology, anatomy and physiology, psychology, and more.
This career is expected to grow by 30% in the near future, adding 42,700 jobs to the market.
Bachelor of Computer Science
Job: Software Developer
Median pay: $105,590
Talk about a job that isn’t going anywhere—software developers are the creative minds behind all the computer programs and cell phone apps we use and take for granted. Software and apps are in all aspects of our lives these days, from communicating with friends to cooking steaks. Software developers can be found creating apps, user experience design, creating systems that run devices, or control networks and more.
The demand for good designers is not going to go away. Short of an apocalypse that forces human development back into a pre-computer era, this is without a doubt a bachelor degree job in high demand, and one of the best degrees for the future.
To become a software developer, you need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. But what is as important as the degree is your skill at computer programming. To that end, many companies prefer that you have a master’s degree as well.
This career field is expected to explode in the near future, growing by 24% and adding 302,500 jobs to the market.
Master of Science—Statistics / Master of Mathematics
Median pay: $88,190
Mathematicians work in a very similar field as statisticians. They analyze data and apply mathematical and statistical techniques to real-world problems. They’re often working for the government, education or in private science and engineering research companies. They’re often in teams of experts from other occupations to solve problems. Mathematicians may work on teams with chemists, materials scientists, chemical engineers, or even industrial designers. In short, there are a lot of different avenues for someone very skilled in mathematics.
Because of the difficulty of the subject matter, most employers look at candidates that have at least a masters-level degree, if not a doctorate level degree. This is definitely a field where higher education pays off, as pay often scales with the earned degrees. As you can imagine, core classes are heavy in advanced mathematics, though some programs require students to take classes in a related science or engineering fields.
This field is projected to grow by 33% in the next 10 years and add 13,500 jobs to the market.
Master of Science – Genetic Counselling
Job: Genetic counselor
Median pay: $80,379
Genetic counseling is a new field. Since genetic technology and analysis has become more advanced, people are becoming more interested in what kind of inherited diseases might affect their families. Because the field is so new, there are relatively few counselors that can help them with their questions. Genetic counselors work in hospitals, university medical centers, laboratories, and physician’s offices.
Students looking to get a career in genetic counseling first need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a health science-related topic and then apply to a master of science program in genetics or genetic counseling. Coursework often includes classes in genetics, public health, patient empathy, and epidemiology. Students are also required to have a clinical rotation where they work with clients and patients. After graduation, students will then need to obtain certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
Currently, there are approximately 3100 genetic counselors in America. This field is expected to grow by 29% and add 900 jobs to the market.
Associate Degree—Occupational Therapy
Job: Occupational Therapy Assistant
Median pay: $57,620
Occupational therapy assistants work directly with patients to help them develop, recover, improve, and maintain the motor skills needed for daily life. They help patients of all ages recover from injury or illness and customize therapy for patient needs. They work directly under practitioners and provide hands-on support during exercise routines. These assistants may be called up to use specialized equipment, and monitor and record patients progress.
A student can become an occupational therapy assistant by obtaining an associate degree from a program accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association. These programs are usually two years long and cover subjects like anatomy, psychology, biology, and pediatric care.
This field is expected to grow by 28% in the near future and add 13,200 jobs to the market.
Master of Business Administration—Information Systems
Job: Information Security Analysts
Median pay: $98,350
Reports of cyberattacks and hacks are always in the news. Research has shown that organizations (private, and public entities) are all woefully vulnerable to cyberattacks. What this means is that qualified cybersecurity experts are in high demand. These experts often monitor a network for breaches, investigate attacks, install and upgrade firewalls and encryption programs, and develop best practices for their organization.
While you can get a job in this field with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, employers typically prefer analysts to have experience in a related occupation. This means going to school for a Master of Business Administration in Information Systems. These master’s degrees can be completed in two years, but work experience in an IT department is strongly recommended.
This career is projected to grow by 28% in the near future and add 28,500 jobs.
Bachelor of Computer Science or Mathematics
Job: Operation research analysts
Median pay: $83,390
If you’re the type of person that believes that data reveals the true nature of a problem, then this is the job for you. Operations research analysts play an integral role in the future of business. They are experts at critical thinking and have excellent math skills that enable them to better track results, forecast trends, solve business problems and make better decisions. Operations research analysts use a combination of math, engineering, and science to analyze human behavior, study complex organizational issues, and more. They are involved in all aspects of an organization and use statistical modeling to analyze information and provide solutions.
Most employers only require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or mathematics for these jobs, though some may require a master’s degree. Operations research is still quite a specialized field, so few schools offer programs specific to this field. As a result, many analysts have degrees in related computer science or mathematics fields.