From as far back as high school, there's an enormous pressure on prospective college students to decide what their major will be. And that pressure continues to build even more for undeclared freshmen and sophomores who simply can't choose a career field to pursue.
Eventually, you do have to pick a major, since that will determine which courses you'll need to complete to earn your degree. The good news, however, is that with the exception of some highly specialized or professionally focused programs, your choice of college major doesn't mean you'll be tied to one job or even one industry for the rest of your life. In fact, students who want career change flexibility are finding that some majors may open the doors to a variety of employment options -- even ones they didn't expect. And with a growing number of colleges and universities across the country offering online degree programs earning a degree in these fields comes with flexibility as well.
Here are seven majors that can help students develop in-demand skills that can prepare them for a diverse range of jobs:
While many computer science majors do go on to work for technology companies, thanks to the digital age we live in, that knowledge can be applied in nearly any industry. After all, practically every business and organization has an online presence or technology department.
Computer science majors typically learn aspects of programming languages, networking and systems, algorithm design, software, data, and more. Underlying all of these technical skills is the ability to think analytically, solve problems, and have a meticulous attention to detail -- all of which are highly desirable traits to employers.
Potential career paths with a degree in Computer Science:
- App development
- Computer programming
- Web design
- Tech support
- Network security
- Software testing
- Technology consulting
Business administration is one of those generic-sounding majors that many people don't fully understand. Essentially, a business administration degree involves taking a wide range of foundational business courses in areas such as accounting, management, business information systems, business law, and marketing.
Having diverse business skills can serve you well in most any type of profession, or if you choose to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor. That's because knowing how organizations work and understanding how to turn a profit are essential for success.
Potential career paths with a degree in Business Administration:
- Management-level positions in any industry from retail to healthcare
- Project management
- Human resources
There was a time when people assumed that English majors must become teachers, and communications majors would have trouble finding work, but that's definitely not the case anymore. Employers are desperate for the so-called "soft skills" that these majors help cultivate in students, such as critical thinking, writing, public speaking, and effective research skills.
What's more is these courses also offer a "well-rounded" education that often helps students excel in graduate-level programs, should they choose to continue their schooling.
Potential career paths with a degree in English/Communications:
- Event planning
- Technical writer
- Social media coordinator
- Digital content development
- Public relations
Gone are the days when math was the number-crunching major of choice for geeks and future accountants. Math majors today are positioning themselves for a wide variety of jobs and professions thanks to the huge focus on data and analytics across all industries, not to mention the growth of fields like personal finance and forensic accounting.
Math is also a good major for people who decide to pursue number-driven fieldwork in engineering, economics, or science.
Potential career paths with a degree in Math:
- Data analyst
- Marketing research
- Information science
- Actuarial science
Majoring in education is mostly for people who have the intention of becoming teachers. However, there are some who decide to venture outside of the classroom at some point in their career, and that's totally possible.
Education majors essentially learn how to take material, break it down, and teach it to a diverse group of people. Understanding different learning styles, and being comfortable presenting in front of others are skills that can easily be taken into the corporate world, for instance. Or, if you enjoy working with children but not necessarily in the structure of a classroom, you can teach one-on-one or in a different setting.
Potential career paths with a degree in Education:
- Tutoring/test prep
- Curriculum development
- Public education
- Guidance counselor
- Training coordinator
- Camp director
- Adult education
Never before have financial skills become so vital in so many different occupations. Apart from crunching numbers, finance and accounting degree holders may be equally qualified for other positions that focus on budgeting, maximizing ROI, or improving efficiency and productivity – activities which in the past were typically reserved for the accounting department or CFOs.
In addition, the retirement landscape has changed, college has gotten more expensive, and Americans are living longer -- all reasons why financial professionals who can help people properly manage their money are more in demand than ever before.
Potential career paths with a degree in Finance/Accounting:
- Certified financial planner
- Tax preparation
- Wealth management
At the heart of every engineering major is the vision to design and build things, whether it's mechanical, aerospace, environmental, or biomedical. With so many different types of engineering jobs, a degree in the field is anything but limiting.
People with engineering backgrounds are sought by government agencies, private corporations, manufactures, and the military, to name just a few. The key is to specialize in an area, and pursue work in that niche.
Potential career paths with a degree in Engineering:
- Urban planning
- Construction management
- Patent law
- Operations management
- Supply chain management
- Technical consulting
As you can see, no matter how targeted your major might seem to be, it doesn't have to define your professional path. When considering which degree to pursue, look beyond the obvious career tracks to see how your education might lead you to versatile careers.