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Making College Pay: Five Fields of Study for Employment

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By Kelsie Mowry

How many people do you know who went to college and worked hard to get a degree, only to find that after graduation they couldn’t land a job and ended up working for minimum wage? We’ve all heard stories like that. Maybe that’s even your story. I’m not saying that everyone just goes to college to get a good paying job. Maybe you’re just there to learn about a subject you’re passionate about, or you just love school, or you just want to stick around for the parties. Most people, though, are going to college to improve their chances in the working world. However, with a national average unemployment rate of 8.1 percent in 2013, many students are finding that easier said than done. Well, wouldn’t you like to know which degrees can almost guarantee you a job?According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are five fields of study that have higher employment rates than others in recent years: education, healthcare, agriculture, psychology/ social work, and business. Luckily for us, St. Pete College offers degrees in all of these fields.

In 2011, the field of study with the lowest unemployment rate of 5.4 percent was Education. Teachers are always going to be needed, even in a bad economy. SPC has a College of Education offering a wide range of majors in the education field, including Bachelors degrees in everything from elementary education to high school education. SPC is well known for their internship program, so students get a lot of opportunities to work in the classroom.

The next area of study with a low unemployment, also 5.4 percent, for graduates is healthcare. According to an article from the Washington Post, the aging baby boomer population is expected to cause a serious shortage of healthcare workers in the coming years, due not only to the healthcare issues of the aging population, but also the fact that a significant percentage of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are reaching retirement age. SPC has a College of Health Sciences that offers both Associates and Bachelors degrees in a wide variety of fields of study. The college offers Bachelors programs in Health Sciences Administration, which helps healthcare practitioners advance in their careers, as well as Dental Hygiene and in the Applied Science of Orthotics and Prosthetics.

According to DeeDee Watts, a Nursing professor at SPC, the Nursing program at SPC is one of the highest ranking programs in the country, and the Institute of Medicine reported that SPC is a national example of how a program should be structured. When the programs (ADN and BSN) were re-accredited, both received the highest marks possible. If you decide to go into the health sciences field, obviously expect to take a lot of science and math courses. Watts said, “It’s a great field for job security; a nurse can always find a job!” She also noted that “there are so many options within the field.” If working in the hospital gets old, there are other things you can do with a nursing degree, and the same goes with any degree in the health field. Dr. Haumschild, SPC Health Sciences professor, also agreed that there are many job choices in the field saying, “There is excellent career diversity within the Health Sciences.”

Next on the list, with a 7 percent unemployment rate, is agriculture and natural resources. SPC doesn’t offer much in this field. If that is an area of interest to you, however, you can always get your AA degree at SPC and then transfer to another school with programs in these areas. SPC does offer an AS degree in Environmental Science Technology. With this degree you would be doing a lot of research and field sampling and could get a job working for the government, teaching, or working for a corporation. It’s a great field to go into if you like science and care about preserving the environment.

The next area of study with an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent is psychology/ social work. SPC doesn’t offer any degrees in psychology, but they do offer several psychology courses, which is something to keep in mind if you plan to start at SPC then transfer to a school to major in psychology. SPC does offer two associates degrees in human services: Alcohol/Substance Abuse and Social Services. With a degree in Social Services you could get jobs doing youth or family counseling or work for a social service agency. It would also be a good Associates degree to get at SPC if you plan to transfer to get your Bachelors degree. With an AS in Human Services with a focus in substance abuse, you should expect to do a lot of counseling, probably at some sort of rehabilitation center.

Finally, Business is the last on the list with an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent. Of course, SPC’s College of Business offers a ton of options for students interested in the field. Business is a very broad category because there are many different kinds of Business majors: Business Management, International Business, Finance, Economics, Business Sustainability, and Accounting. SPC offers certificate programs in business, AS degrees, and BS degrees. According to SPC accounting professor, Dr. Adamich-Scheblein, with a major in accounting there are many job opportunities because the skills you have are useful in many areas. According to Leanne Cross, a partner in a regional accounting and an accounting professor at the University of South Florida, “internships are the key to getting a job when you graduate”. She encourages students to try to find an internship in their field and then do a really great job. “That will really increase your chances of finding permanent employment when you graduate”, advises Cross. It’s hard to say what classes you should expect to take because it really depends on which business direction you go in.

It’s very difficult to find a job in today’s economy, but having a college degree, more importantly, the right college degree just makes it that much easier. SPC is a great place to get a degree if you’re very job-oriented. Of course going to college isn’t just about finding a job that will get you paid, but honestly, it’s easier to stay motivated if you expect all of that hard work to help you put some extra money in the bank later on… or maybe just extra money to pay off that student debt, but that’s another story.

Header photo from SPC Facebook page.

Originally published on Jan. 1, 2013.

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