Top 9 industries for recent college graduates
It’s no secret that millions of college graduates have been unleashed on the workforce and can’t find jobs to match their education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, postsecondary institutions conferred an estimated 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees in 2012, and the business research firm IBISWorld expects that number to climb closer to 2 million this year. Graduates who majored in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are in general better positioned for employment and higher wages, while graduates with nontechnical degrees generally experience higher unemployment rates.
Using its database of more than 700 industries, IBISWorld identified the top nine industries for new graduates in 2014. All but one are characterized by good employment growth, high average wages and increasing revenue; none, however, are immune to outsourcing.
(Note: “Average wages” is not an industry’s typical wage, but the sum of all wages divided by the number of wages. Higher wages and wages in more urban areas generally skew this definition upward.)
In order of 2014 average wages, they are:
- Investment banking and securities. Average industry wage $343,393, projected revenue growth of 3.9 percent and employment growth of 2.9 percent per year on average. While investment banking and securities were hit hard by the recession as major investment firms let thousands of employees go, the industry has recovered much of the ground it lost and offers lucrative job prospects. The United States remains the world’s premier international financial center, meaning that global economic growth will contribute to rising employment within U.S. investment banks and securities dealers over the next five years. And the revival in business activity will boost demand for investment banking services, such as underwriting and corporate advisory. Additionally, because institutional traders and high-net-worth individuals recovered from the recession much faster than consumers overall, trading has already begun to markedly improve.
- Software publishing. Average industry wages $141,558 with projected revenue growth of 4.8 percent and employment growth of 3.2 percent per year. Software will also remain in high demand over the next five years as the number of households with at least one computer rises to nearly 90 percent and investment in technology increases. Constantly improving technology and falling hardware prices will also make computers, smart phones, video games and subsequently software increasingly accessible. Mobile technology will especially benefit as mobile devices become more essential for communication, entertainment and making transactions. An increasing amount of products that use software, such as systems built into cars, electronics and appliances, will also require new software development. The software publishing landscape will also continue to evolve as publishers and technology companies respond to increasing demand for cloud computing.
- Oil drilling and gas extraction. Average wages, $131,847, projected revenue growth 2.4 percent and employment growth 3 percent. Rising global more than domestic demand will drive the need for highly qualified graduates in this industry over the next five years. Emerging economies will lead global demand for petroleum-based products as they continue to build essential infrastructure and millions of new consumers enter the middle class. IBISWorld says China, the world’s second-largest economy (for now), is expected to grow at near double the rate of most advanced economies
- Semiconductor and circuit manufacturing. Average industry wages of $93,128, projected revenue growth 0.1 percent but employment growth of -1.1 percent. Although employment for this industry is expected to slow and even decline over the next five years, the industry’s high wages and growing downstream demand make it an attractive option for recent college graduates. Operators in this industry manufacture a range of components used in electronic devices including capacitors, resistors and microprocessors. And demand for advanced wireless consumer electronics will continue to drive industry growth. Mobile data traffic is expected to quickly expand over the next five years while new technology, including chips that can multicom (integrate existing Wi-Fi networks with mobile networks) and machine-to-machine computing will continue to develop, increasing demand for advanced semiconductors.
- Public relations. Average wages $91,021, revenue growth 4.2 percent and employment growth 2.6 percent. Maintaining a favorable public image will never be unimportant, as events in the NFL have shown; the ubiquitous use of the internet means both good and bad news spread quickly. IBISWorld says demand for public relations will increase over the next five years. Graduates experienced in new media in particular will benefit from growing demand as companies and institutions increasingly recognize that social media are a relatively low-cost and powerful marketing tool that also enables businesses to study target markets and analyze consumer trends in real time. This micro-analysis will become increasingly important as customers and markets become more fragmented.
- Organic chemical manufacturing. Average industry wages, $80,383, projected revenue growth 3.1 percent and employment growth 2.4 percent. This industry is expected to heavily invest in human resources and R&D in the near future, says the service, producing basic organic chemicals, industrial gases and synthetic dyes and pigments for a range of industrial uses. In particular, industry operators are expected to increase production of plastic and paint to meet growing demand from the construction sector as the number of housing starts is anticipated to climb 5.5 percent per year on average over the next five years. International demand for organic chemicals will also continue to rise as chemical manufacturing companies focus on international markets. Manufacturers will also benefit from the lower cost of energy and raw inputs as domestic natural production increases.
- Engineering. Average wages $79,613, revenue growth 4.1 percent and employment growth 3.9 percent. This industry is expected to hire thousands of new graduates over the next five years as business confidence stabilizes and companies commit to large projects that require engineering services. And with interest rates still low, private investment will only strengthen as more office buildings, factories and public structures are built, requiring educated engineers. Additionally, projects delayed over the past few years will need to be completed to maintain our infrastructure, especially power generation, sewage lines and treatment and water supply infrastructure. Further, as renewable energy projects such as onshore and offshore wind projects increase, demand for civil engineers will also grow. Companies will likely cut costs by contracting engineering services rather than directly employing engineers, however.
- Accounting. Average wages of $65,444, revenue growth of 3.6 percent and employment growth of 2.9 percent. Accounting, bookkeeping and related services are a stable field, especially for those who go on to earn statutory titles, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This industry is closely tied to the health of the overall economy, which will continue to grow. Corporate deal-making will also likely increase as low interest rates, robust corporate profits and lending make it easier for large companies to finance corporate takeovers or engage in mergers and acquisitions. Industry operators will also benefit from stricter laws and regulations within the financial sector and expected increase in audits. Furthermore, rising globalization will likely lead to more cross-border corporate deals that require U.S. accounting standards.
- Hospitals. Average industry wages of $61,588, revenue growth of 3.8 percent and employment growth, 1 percent. As the population ages and access to public and private health insurance expands through the Affordable Care Act, hospitals will remain a good career field. IBISWorld expects the number of individuals aged 65 and older to increase an average of 3.3 percent annually to 54.2 million people in five years, requiring more caregivers. Job growth is expected to be particularly strong in facilities that provide care for patients with chronic conditions such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity and long-term stroke rehabilitation.
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