What Are the Best Career Choices for Recent College Grads?

Some of the most promising career choices for recent college graduates may be found in engineering, computer science, medical science and health care. Positive prospects can be determined by strong potential salaries and above-average job growth. Continue reading to find out what job positions may offer the greatest potential after graduating.

Best Career Choices for Recent College Grads

When searching for careers with the best outlook, you may want to look at the best salary and largest career growth potential. Science-based careers usually provide the greatest career potential, while communications, humanities and social science-based careers may provide the lowest potential. However, you may find that many of the highest-paying careers don't coincide with the highest-growing careers.

Important Facts About the Best Career Choices for Recent College Graduates

Software Developers Registered Nurses Accountants and Auditors
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 17% growth 16% growth 11% growth
Key Skills Computer competency; analytical and critical thinking; creativity; clear written and spoken communication Empathy; physical stamina; organization; attention to detail; critical thinking Analytical thinking; strong mathematical foundation; attention to detail; clear written and spoken communication
Work Environment Computer systems design and related services; software publishers; finance and insurance companies Hospitals; nursing and residential care facilities; offices of physicians Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services; government agencies; finance and insurance companies
Similar Occupations Computer hardware engineers; computer programmers; computer systems analysts Dental hygienists; EMTs and paramedics; physician assistants Budget analysts; financial managers; financial analysts

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Engineering and Computer Science

In 2015, a salary summary by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) noted that computer science and engineering jobs offered the highest median salaries out of all career fields (www.naceweb.org). The NACE estimated that the average salary for recent graduates looking for a career in engineering was $61,819. Engineering careers also held most positions on the 2015-2016 highest-paid career list found on PayScale.com.

If you're interested in a computer science career, NACE reported that the average salary for this field was $65,849. Computer science positions also fill three of 2015's top ten careers, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Health Care and Medical Science

U.S. News and World Report also listed seven health care positions that require a college education among the top ten best careers of 2015. The careers with the best salary and outlook prospects in this field are dentists, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physician assistants, physicians, physical therapists and dental hygienists. In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that physicians and surgeons earned a median salary of $187,200 or more (www.bls.gov).

Best Potential Job Growth

Among the top-paying careers listed above, the only careers that can be found on the BLS top-growing career list for 2014-24 were applications software developers, who could see growth of 18.8% during that decade. On the other hand, a number of health care related positions, like occupational therapy aides, home health aides and physical therapist aides, were expected to see high levels of growth. These three careers are available to those with only a high school education.

If you are interested in fields with a high-growth rate that require an associate's degree, you may be interested in a career as a occupational therapy assistants or physical therapist assistants. If you are looking at bachelor's degree programs and related careers, the College Board (www.collegeboard.org) identifies the following careers as having the highest job growth potential between 2008 and 2018:

  • Computer analysts
  • Research analysts
  • Accountants
  • Computer and network systems administrators
  • Teachers

If you wish to pursue a graduate degree, you may want to concentrate your studies to start a career as a pharmacist, college professor, therapist, social worker or medical scientist.

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