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 (2016-2026) 14% growth 15% growth 10% 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 2018, a salary summary by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) noted that computer science and engineering jobs offered the highest average 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 $65,455. Engineering careers also held most positions on the 2018 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 $73,768. A computer science position also took the top spot of 2019'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 ten (some are tied) health care positions that require a college education among the top ten best careers of 2019. The careers with the best salary and outlook prospects in this field are dentists, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, physician assistants, physicians, and pediatricians. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that physicians and surgeons earned a median salary of $200,890 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 2016-26 were applications software developers, who could see a growth of 30.7% during that decade. On the other hand, a number of healthcare-related positions, like physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physical therapist assistants, were expected to see high levels of growth.

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, physical therapist, social worker, or medical scientist.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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