You’ve walked across the stage to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance”, flipped your tassel to the left side of your cap and posed hurriedly for a picture your parents will definitely buy for the fireplace mantel. Now it’s time to begin the next stage of your life: college.
And of course, you’ve got to choose a college major — but which major is the right one? The future stretches ahead of you, and there are many possibilities to pursue based on your talents and interests.
At the same time, student debt is a serious concern— the average student in the Class of 2016 had $37,172 in debt, and it’s the now the second-highest consumer debt category after mortgages. Which is all to say that choosing the right major is more important than ever before.
“A good career starts with a solid foundation,” says Indeed SVP Paul Wolfe. “A student’s major may lead to a variety of options that they don’t even know about yet. But studying the potential options can help you hone in on your area of study, as well influence the types of organizations and people you look to connect with on the way.”
Information on which jobs are trending in today’s market can be a helpful resource for students, parents, and educators. Let’s take a closer look at pathways and salary information, based on an analysis of Indeed’s data.
Connecting majors to careers
To make our list our data science team identified some of the most popular majors in Indeed’s 90 million strong resume database and then looked at the jobs that most commonly appeared on those resumes. We then analyzed Indeed’s salary information for these jobs to get a sense of how much they pay on average. In the table we provide an at-a-glance sense of the results. Below, we take a deeper dive into potential pathways.
Are you good with numbers? Accounting is a versatile business degree, and you’ll have the opportunity to work with businesses, individuals and the government to ensure the accuracy of financial records, as well as make sure taxes are paid on time. Popular jobs for accounting majors include chief financial officer, assistant controller, and accountant — people in these positions make an average salary of $126,579, $85,636 and $53,227, respectively. That said, some studies suggest that accounting roles may be impacted by automation, so be sure to follow the advice of the experts and be prepared to upskill so you can pursue strategic roles.
Search for accounting jobs here.
If you want to understand and explore the structure, function and evolution of diverse living systems, biology is the major for you. Majoring in biology means you could contribute to fields ranging from genetic engineering to stem cell research to cancer research — and beyond. Biology grads have a lot of options: They can research or teach, and they can work for profit or non-profit organizations. We often see roles such as scientist, microbiologist or research associate on resumes on Indeed — which on average pay $84,978, $61,480 and $48,733 respectively.
Search for biology jobs here.
Business majors usually specialize in a particular field, such as accounting, finance, business management and administration, or marketing and international business (to name a few). That said, the opportunities here are vast, as business majors develop skills which are valuable to employers that can be transferred to a multitude of careers. Jobs that we often see on business grad resumes include director of operations, business analyst and recruiter — earning average wages of $87,950, $76,339 and $51,171, respectively. More good news: Business and financial occupations employment is projected to grow 8% by 2024, according to BLS data.
Search for business jobs here.
Communications is a versatile major that delves into fields such as journalism, electronic media, TV & radio broadcasting, mass communications, public relations and advertising. It’s a popular subject that can lead to great jobs — such as director of communications, which averages a salary of $78,724; producer, which averages $58,229; and public relations manager, which averages $50,537. If you have great speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills and have a love for communicating a message effectively, then this could be the degree for you.
Search for communications jobs here.
As software and computers become ever more fundamental to how we live and work, the outlook for computer science majors is very positive — in fact, according to BLS data, employment in this field is expected to grow 11% by 2024, which is faster than average. So if you’re skilled at algorithmic thinking, programming and software engineering this could be a great choice for you. And it pays well — career paths include development operations engineer, which pays an average of $125,105, software engineer, which pays $101, 798, and business intelligence developer, with an average of $95,939.
Search for computer science jobs here.
If you’re fascinated by law and the intricacies of the judicial system, majoring in criminal justice would be a great move. You don’t have to go on to be a lawyer — the opportunities in this field are wide and varied. People who major in criminal justice and who are searching for work on Indeed frequently click on crime analyst, police officer, and security officer jobs — which pay averages of $68,006, $47,401, and $24,255, respectively. While these particular jobs are not necessarily as well paid as some of the others on the list, they are the kinds of jobs where your work can make a big difference in people’s lives.
Search for criminal justice jobs here.
Educators have a crucially important job. At this year’s Indeed Interactive, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell referred to the occupation as the “model profession of the 21st century”, since it requires a mix of leadership, social and cognitive skills plus adaptability and a constant thirst for learning. If you have a love of interacting with children or enjoy tutoring friends on schoolwork they don’t understand, this is likely the major for you— though it also helps to be patient, well-organized, and flexible. Education roles include consultant, which on average pays $79,504 to school principal and teacher, which average salaries of $64,487 and $47,289.
Search for education jobs here.
Engineers apply scientific knowledge to real-world problems, and are builders, designers, and problem solvers. They rely heavily on creative thinking and logical decision making, and are especially skilled in science and math, and typically choose one of four engineering disciplines to specialize in: civil, chemical, mechanical or electrical. Post-graduation, engineers can expect to earn high annual wages: an Engineering Manager earns an average of $106,004, while Electrical Engineers earn $82,695 and Mechanical Engineers earn $78,169.
Search for engineering jobs here.
If you love to spend your time writing stories, poring over texts and analyzing different types of literature, you might consider majoring in English. From reading novels, short stories, plays and poetry to writing and discussing your views on literature, students in this field are exposed to the best that human thought has to offer, and develop a heightened awareness of the power of language — which opens up numerous possibilities in fields where skill with language is key. People who major in English find jobs such as director of marketing, writer/editor or English teacher, and make average salaries of $86,875, $54,986 and $43,514.
Search for English jobs here.
An understanding of finance is fundamental to business and banking operations — so if you know you want to pursue a career managing money, this would be a great choice for you. Graduates here go on to find jobs in bond brokering, corporate finance, financial planning, investment banking and beyond. Indeed resume data shows that popular pathways for finance majors include work as directors of finance, trader, and financial analyst roles — jobs with respective earnings of $100,880, $95,632, and $65,473. More good news: financial jobs look set to experience above average growth, with financial analyst roles expected to grow 12% by 2024 — so studying finance in college could really pay off.
Search for finance jobs here.
Do you have a thirst to create and a love for art, art history, music, or acting? If so, a fine arts major would be a good fit for you. Fine arts majors engage in a wide variety of creative courses, exploring mediums like photography, painting, theatre, music performance, sculpture and graphic design. And while fine arts jobs aren’t growing particularly fast, with a slower than average 2% job outlook — it’s a rewarding and constantly challenging major, and people can go on to careers such as creative director, art director, or graphic designer, averaging salaries of $91,567, $54,986, and $43,514.
Search for fine arts jobs here.
Unlike vocational degrees such as accounting or nursing, it is less obvious which career tracks history majors can pursue. However, history majors develop transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and adaptability, which opens up a wide array of possibilities. While the single biggest post-graduation decision for history majors is to go to law school, there are others who find jobs in teaching, library science, international relations and museum studies. Indeed’s resume database shows that history majors often go on to work as business development managers, social studies teachers or paralegals —which can pay $76,739, $55,595, $49,802, respectively.
Search for history jobs here.
Often dubbed the “creative” business major, marketers generally have one end goal: to teach and convince consumers why they should choose your product or service. How you do that varies, as there are many different roles that fall under the giant marketing umbrella — but if you enjoy thinking about how people think and want to pursue a creative and sometimes artistic role in the corporate workplace, you might want to consider marketing. A look at popular jobs suggests marketing majors can expect higher than average salaries — product managers, directors of marketing, and marketing managers on average get paid $101,922, $86,849, and $69,978 respectively. If a constantly-changing field that combines creative ability and analytical skills sounds appealing to you, then a major in marketing might be a great decision.
Search for marketing jobs here.
Indeed economist Mariano Mamertino describes nursing as a “future-proof” job due to its resistance to automation. It is also a great career for anyone with an inquisitive mind, interest in healthcare and an empathetic personality. There are opportunities in management and administration, as well as roles like nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nursing informatics — a specialized field combining health science, computer science, and information technology skills. We often see jobs such as director of nursing, nursing supervisor and registered nurse one resumes, which have average salaries of $96,268, $72,971 and $68,750, respectively. And because it’s estimated that over 50% of nurses are over age 50 and so will soon be retiring, demand for nurses is expected to grow. In fact, RNs see a job outlook of 16% growth, which is much faster than average, according to BLS data.
Search for nursing jobs here.
If the mind and human behavior are topics that intrigue you, then psychology could be a good fit. According to the American Psychological Association, psychology is a “helping career,” which means people with psychology degrees often assist others through direct services such as mental health, education, and human resources, or indirectly through applying research skills to solve problems — all the more reason to pursue this fascinating major. As for what you can do after graduation, the Indeed resume database shows that people who majored in psychology often go on to work as human resources managers, behavioral therapists and counselor. The average Average salaries for these roles range fare $68,613, $35,326 and $30,171, respectively.
Search for psychology jobs here.
This report is based on an analysis of the most common majors (business, psychology, accounting, nursing, criminal justice, marketing, computer science, biology, finance, communications) in our resume database, for those who have only bachelor's degree. We determined the 50 most common current job titles for those with each major, and the percentage of resumes within that major that have that current job title. For salary information, we then calculated the average salary for each of these job titles over the last two years. If the most common salary type record was monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly we adjusted for a 40 hour work week over 52 weeks a year.