Best careers for people about to enter college?

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user5027
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by user5027 »

Whatever they have passion for.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. - Confucius
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

user5027 wrote:Whatever they have passion for.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. - Confucius
Ah, yes, but even better if you can choose who you report to. :D
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
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BigOil
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by BigOil »

Accounting is very good. Several in our family. Needs be a program recruited by the big 4 firms and have good grades for top dollar. But even middling accountants get decent work.

Chemical Engineer (and MBA eventually) ---upper tiers schools. The "no regrets" first job is with top firms: BigOil (!) or BigChem or BigEngineer (Bechtel etc.). For "non-technology Engineers"--pumps, wires, concrete, structures, machines, mines, wells, marine, aero (I cannot speak to CS/software and BioMed/EE-CS/CS areas) school is much less important to a point; as is the importance and record of the placement office and your grades. The curricula are pretty standard by major, and there are almost no dumb Engineers (maybe some lazy ones or poor people skills but no dumb ones I ever saw that graduated); even students that dropped to non-ABET "Engineering Science" made good Salesfolks. Non "top firm" Engineers do fine as well. Engineering degree is a good fallback for pre-meds too...

At MeagaHugeOilCo; Stanford or Berkley versus Mississippi State or Auburn or UTx or Purdue or GT etc. did not matter at all once you were hired. They are all ABET accredited. I"paid too much" for my brand ChE, but no regret on that as 30+ years ago things were less costly on an adjusted basis... We had lots of Engineers doing typically non-Engineer stuff of all kinds. We did have lots of smart people. It was not the only degree to get top (non Lawyer, non Finance) jobs, but it was the most versatile and most common by far.

Friends tell me this is very different than say the "east coast"( NYC, Boston, Hartford etc...) bias to some firms for hiring in say Finance.

Don't be blinded by the salary deltas on the first job to pick a career/major. Just get a good start anywhere good. And work with excellence and integrity.

We've/I've lived all over. Pay is usually most valuable in places like Florida, NC and Houston. SF Bay for example pays more for some roles in some companies, but the actual cost delta is HUGE for young people. Nominal pay delta for high cost places is never enough versus "normal" cost places. One is "paying" for the weather and aminities(and culture ..blah). We did fine but spent HUGE dollars on tax and living to be middle class. Young people hear this stuff, but is not real until they live it...
lostInFinance
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by lostInFinance »

JupiterJones wrote:Then again, how many of us are actually doing for a living what we majored in?
I graduated in EE, programmed C++ for a couple of years, and then got a slightly higher paying job that requires almost no technical skills, but I wouldn't hold myself up as a career model for anyone else.
katsmeow
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by katsmeow »

The problem with these kinds of threads is that they always seem to assume that (1) everyone is capable of doing anything and everything (2) the only thing that matters is what job pays the most and (3) personal interest in your work means nothing.

I do think that looking in job prospects in various fields is a necessary part of career planning. We homeschool our daughter who is about to graduate high school and we did a career planning course and we certainly looked at those things (and she rejected some careers she had some interest in just based upon job prospects and projected income). However, it is the least important of the 3 factors that need to be looked at. In the career planning course of her we did all of these:

1. Aptitude and Ability - Not everyone is capable of doing everything. My daughter couldn't be an engineer if her like depended on it. People do have differing aptitudes and abilities. We recently did aptitude testing for her and her brother at Johnson O'Connor which I highly recommend if you live near one of their offices:

http://www.jocrf.org/

Their basic point is that aptitudes are unchanging while interests change. And, if you pick a career where you don't have an aptitude then you will be unhappy and even if you persist in the career you are not likely to be very good.

My son who is in college, switching his major every month, found that he was high in what they call "structural visualization" which is the ability to think in 3 dimensions. If you aren't good at structural visualization then engineering is probably not a good career for you, regardless of how well paid it is. My son is very good at structural visualization while my daughter is not.

They both learned a lot about their aptitudes through the testing and got suggestions for fields that neither had thought of before. However, it was abundantly clear what things each of them was not good at and careers that require those things would not be good careers for them,

There are of course some people who are very good at a lot of things - my son was one of those. That is actually not necessarily a good thing for career success said the people at Johnson O'Connor. People who are really good only a few things find it much easier to find a job that fits all their aptitudes. People are who are good at a lot of things sometimes flit from career to career because no one career matches all their aptitudes (which may be part of the reason my son has had 6 majors).

2. What you are interested in - While I don't think this should be the only factor in choosing a career and don't even think it is as important as aptitude and ability. This is a factor. On DS list of possible careers the top 2 were medicine and engineering. On paper and based upon aptitude testing those are both great careers for him. Only one problem - he has no interest in either one.

However, in looking at the materials from his testing and looking at his interests, he decided to move away from the majors he had been looking at (things like English, psychology, business) and switch to computer science. He is now doing very well in computer science and loves his course work.

3. Job and income prospects - Yes this matters but really only after you know what you are good at and what you are interested in. My daughter is not academically inclined at all. She does not want to obtain a bachelor's degree (I know - that is something that almost can't be admitted in polite company). We talked about some possible careers she was interested in. We looked at the career programs offered by the community college around here and she picked several that she had some interest in and which were consistent with her aptitudes. Then we looked at the job and income prospects for those careers. We didn't look at the universe of careers. She wasn't going to be an engineer or an accountant so it didn't matter what they would pay. We did look at those that she had some interest in. And she quickly eliminated several possible careers. For example, she likes cooking and had consider going into a cooking program. However, after researching the field she rejected it.

So, yes, look at what pays the most and what the job prospects are but do this for the careers that fit your child's aptitudes and interests.
thepommel
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by thepommel »

+1 for CPA

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joe8d
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by joe8d »

My daughter is not academically inclined at all. She does not want to obtain a bachelor's degree (I know - that is something that almost can't be admitted in polite company). We talked about some possible careers she was interested in. We looked at the career programs offered by the community college around here and she picked several that she had some interest in and which were consistent with her aptitudes. Then we looked at the job and income prospects for those careers. We didn't look at the universe of careers. She wasn't going to be an engineer or an accountant so it didn't matter what they would pay. We did look at those that she had some interest in. And she quickly eliminated several possible careers. For example, she likes cooking and had consider going into a cooking program. However, after researching the field she rejected it.
So she gets a job at Target. No shame in that.
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momar
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by momar »

I'm an engineer. I don't doubt I could find another job relatively quickly if I had to, but I would have to move for it. I can't just decide I want to live somewhere else and do it, I would have to make sure I found employment first.

My sister is a CPA. She could also find a job relatively quickly. But she would not have to move for it. If she wanted to live somewhere else, she could just move there and find a job on arrival with little difficulty.

I've come to realize that that is a very important point. Especially since I married a biologist, who has the same problem as me but even more so.

To add, most of my friends are also scientists/engineers with PhDs. Some of them have done as I did, and married another one. Some married a teacher, nurse, accountant, or what have you. The odds of the latter couples both having satisfying careers are far higher. I know more than one couple of very accomplished scientists who spent years trying to land faculty positions in the same town. And just imagine if they weren't very accomplished.

My point is not don't do it, but that this is a consideration no one mentions when you start down the path.
Last edited by momar on Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

joe8d wrote:
My daughter is not academically inclined at all. She does not want to obtain a bachelor's degree (I know - that is something that almost can't be admitted in polite company). We talked about some possible careers she was interested in. We looked at the career programs offered by the community college around here and she picked several that she had some interest in and which were consistent with her aptitudes. Then we looked at the job and income prospects for those careers. We didn't look at the universe of careers. She wasn't going to be an engineer or an accountant so it didn't matter what they would pay. We did look at those that she had some interest in. And she quickly eliminated several possible careers. For example, she likes cooking and had consider going into a cooking program. However, after researching the field she rejected it.
So she gets a job at Target. No shame in that.
My older son wasn't interested in a BA, but he volunteered as an EMT (much to my surprise, since he was once phobic about needles). He has kept up with his studies (to get additional certifications), and it has been easy for him because it's all relevant (which his more academic studies weren't for him). It's an exciting and challenging job, helps people who need it, and pays a decent (I.e., life sustaining) wage. For him, it is a great fit. His siblings would not like it as a career, although I could see my youngest considering it as a viable "day job."
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
edsl48
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by edsl48 »

Two of my children are Speech Pathologists. They have plenty of job offers that even role in unsolicited. One advatage is that here in Illinois there is a program that will pay their tuition should they go into school systems for a period of time. It takes a Masters Degree to practice and my one child hit a 6 figure income last year. The other is in the school systems and makes what any other masters degreed teacher makes. An advantage is though there are no papers to grade, its all one on one contact and the benefits, including a defined benefit pension, are quite remarkable.
My third child is a Pharmacist. As he puts it, "it took a lot of work but it sure paid off." I wont say what he made as a head pharmacist last year because you probably wouldnt believe it
Now with these jobs, or careers if you may, they are paid on an hourly basis. As a retired CPA I know all about working Saturdays, Sundays evenings and holidays with no jump in pay. I am sure many of the accountants that read this can certainly relate to that.
I would also suggest that, for those more inclined to attain a Community College degree, there are some pretty attractive positions in Occupational Thearpy and Physical therapy Aids. In my midwestern town the pay scales for these positions approximates 40,000. per year with some benefits. Certainly not a way to get rich but it isnt chickenfeed either. There are plenty of jobs too and with the aging baby boomers the future looks good.
Finally there are decent postions in the radiology tech fields. I had cancer a few years back and the individuals that radiated me had a two year degrees in X-Ray techncian and they capped it off with a one year radation certificate. I think they said they made around 60,000. per year. Not bad in my book
There are a lot of positions that are not STEM that offer good wages and benefits and, as I previously stated, are paid hourly instead of salaried.
mac808
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by mac808 »

Computer science.

Learn how to code and manage software. A top 1/3rd programmer earns $100k out of school (in SF, NYC, or Boston) with lots of growth potential. It's also a flexible career choice - can take risk and join a startup, work remote from Thailand, become a consultant and work part-time, etc.
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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by FrugalInvestor »

First, a young person should learn how to work - how to cooperate with co-workers and supervisors, be dependable and willing to learn, be flexible and do more than is expected, etc. This is the basis of success in any career. If I had the choice of a good worker without a degree or someone with a degree who doesn't know how to work, I'll take the good worker any day.

I'd recommend a program where a business degree is coupled with a STEM specialty.
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likegarden
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by likegarden »

In respect to "following one's passion" in college, we are on the way to install that passion for math into our bright 10 yr old grandson. I and my son are mechanical engineers, I also have an MBA, and always found good paying jobs. My wife has a Master in music education and experienced layoffs from schools over her career, art got laid off first.
But how about going for an Associate degree in criminal justice, become a cop, then get $120K as a NY state cop and a great pension?
katsmeow
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by katsmeow »

joe8d wrote:
My daughter is not academically inclined at all. She does not want to obtain a bachelor's degree (I know - that is something that almost can't be admitted in polite company). We talked about some possible careers she was interested in. We looked at the career programs offered by the community college around here and she picked several that she had some interest in and which were consistent with her aptitudes. Then we looked at the job and income prospects for those careers. We didn't look at the universe of careers. She wasn't going to be an engineer or an accountant so it didn't matter what they would pay. We did look at those that she had some interest in. And she quickly eliminated several possible careers. For example, she likes cooking and had consider going into a cooking program. However, after researching the field she rejected it.
So she gets a job at Target. No shame in that.
I don't know if you really mean that. If you do, I agree that there is no shame in it. However, if you are trying to say that if someone doesn't obtain a bachelor's degree that the person can't get any job other than working at Target (or in retail sales), then I would suggest that you may be unaware of the many fields out there that require training after high school but don't lead to a bachelor's degree.

So, no, she doesn't plan to get a job at Target. She is going to go to community college for a couple of years after graduating high school to train in her field of interest. She has carefully looked at all the Associate's programs and certificate programs at a couple of community colleges and has picked the one that aligns best with her aptitudes and interests. She is actually taking her first course as a dual credit student this fall and is doing very well.
katsmeow
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by katsmeow »

likegarden wrote:In respect to "following one's passion" in college, we are on the way to install that passion for math into our bright 10 yr old grandson. I and my son are mechanical engineers, I also have an MBA, and always found good paying jobs. My wife has a Master in music education and experienced layoffs from schools over her career, art got laid off first.
But how about going for an Associate degree in criminal justice, become a cop, then get $120K as a NY state cop and a great pension?
FWIW, I don't really think that people should follow their passion necessarily. I do think that they have to consider what their abilities are and their interests. That is, I would not suggest following one's passion if the field had few career prospects.

On the other hand, some people who might be able to obtain a degree in music education, but fail utterly at becoming a mechanical engineer (and vice versa). Not everyone can do all things. Also if someone really hated the thought of engineering and would be miserable in that field then the fact it was well paying would be to no avail.

As far as installing passion in someone else, as the mother of 3 kids (youngest a senior in high school), I believe that one can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink.

That is, I'm all for exposing a child to all the options and encouraging the growth of things like a love of math. However, not all kids will end up with a passion for math, despite our best efforts.
AndroAsc
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by AndroAsc »

john94549 wrote:Contrarian that I am, I would suggest a field of study in which the student is engaged and challenged. This might be anything from plant biology to medieval linguistics to political science. College is not a trade school, nor should it be. The most depressing conversation I ever had with a high school graduate off to Mizzou was his explanation of why he never intended to take any "General ED" courses, you know, like English, Philosophy, Western Civ, or the like. "Who needs that?" he said. "I'm going to be an engineer."

I asked, off-handedly, if he had ever explored the field (unbeknownst to him, I had worked with engineers for many years, as outside counsel). "Nope", he said, "but it's just numbers."

Well, it's not. It's also about communicating, making proposals (in English, might I add), critical thinking, and execution of goals. The best engineers I ever met had not only a grasp of technical issues, but also a liberal education to round them out.

College is not a trade school.
Tell that to a the 50% of un-and-underemployed college grads. One should look at a college degree as an investment, perhaps someone should start coming out with ROI of each degree.
MindBogler
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by MindBogler »

I'd be careful about steering people towards software engineering. While the pay is high, it takes a certain aptitude and the right mindset to actually enjoy coding software. I work as a Systems Administrator because I enjoy solving problems and I like the challenges presented by building large technology infrastructure. I've done my share of coding and scripting and although I have the aptitude I could never stare at endless lines of code all day. The most important thing is finding something that you genuinely enjoy. Sometimes that means you will be rewarded handsomely and other times...it doesn't. All the money in the world is worthless if you are unhappy 5 days a week.
beastykato
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by beastykato »

I think someone already mentioned it, but stay away from Biology/Chemistry unless you have a very clear path you are intent on following. I was going to pharmacy school, but then I had my son and his mother and I split up. I did not want to be a dead beat father and leave him so I declined the invitation I received to pharm. school. I got lucky and there is a major generic pharmaceutical company in my area where I landed a unionized job. If it wasn't for that I'd be SOL like a lot of the other people I graduated with.

It is a great stepping stone degree for nursing, physical therapy, medical school, etc., but you have to have the time available to return to school for those things.
lurkymous
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by lurkymous »

They should take a broad survey of challenging courses that includes a significant base in STEM, but also breadth in courses that give them training in writing and critical thinking (ie: humanities). This gives them a solid basis to move forward in almost any area. They should _pay attention_ to what they enjoy, and what they are good at, and specialize in those areas in their advanced coursework. While college is not "the outside world", it is a pretty good bet that if a student hates all the basic coursework in their field, or is really quite bad at that coursework as reflected in low grades earned, that student probably won't enjoy working in that field after graduation. And someone who hates their job is unlikely to rise to the top of the employment pool.

As a side-note, be careful that advice is taken as that, and not as a mandate. It is very sad to work with students who are ill-suited to a particular field but will not change their major because their parents have told them they _must_ graduate in that area to make them proud. It's a very poor return on investment to keep paying tuition for classes when a student won't (or can't) put in enough to take away what they need.

That said, if i had kids with aptitude in STEM who wanted to go into industry rather than continue in higher ed, I would probably tell them to focus on the Engineering version of whatever their favorite subjects are.
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Re: Best careers for people about to enter college?

Post by technovelist »

I've been a programmer for quite a long time, and have generally enjoyed it.
I don't think there is any likelihood that it will be automated any time soon, and even some of the companies that have been outsourcing to India have discovered that the saving in cost isn't worth the tradeoffs.
So I would recommend it to those who have the aptitude and the interest.
As for what degree to go for, I have a BA in Natural Sciences, not a CS degree, but then there weren't many of the latter when I went to college...
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