According to US News and World Report, the best jobs for 2012 are listed as follows with their salary range in parenthesis:
Occupational Therapist ($49,000 – $103,000)
Computer Programmer ($41,000 – $118,000)
Physical Therapist ($53,000 – $108,000)
Computer Systems Analyst ($48,000 – $119,000)
Web Developer ($43,000 – $120,000)
Database Administrator (41,000 – $116,000)
Medical Assistant ($21,000 – $40,000)
Pharmacist ($82,000 – $138,000)
Software Developer ($54,000 – $88,000)
Registered Nurse ($44,000 – $95,000)
US News came up with the list based on the Labor Department’s employment projections and then applied their own formula that weighted this along with their analysis for projected growth of future employment in the industry, salary growth and job satisfaction.
I think that anyone looking to go to college or even back to college should give this list some attention, but do not rely on it solely. The reason for utilizing the list is to understand where jobs are most likely going to be in the future. As you can see, a good number of the jobs are related to the medical profession. This should not come as a surprise since the Baby Boomers are nearing retirement and this is a large segment of out population.
You will also see on this list a handful of jobs related to computers. Again, as we move more towards tablets and smartphones, websites and technology will be changing. With all of this change comes the need for jobs.
The reason why I suggest to not rely solely on this list is because in my eyes, it is incomplete. Not because US News did anything malicious with the findings, but because it only lists the top 10. I would guess that financial planners would rank relatively high on the list, again given the fact that the Baby Boomers are nearing retirement and will need help living through their golden years on the nest egg that they have accumulated.
It does not surprise me that teachers do not show up on this list. My guess they do not is because of a lower salary than the other professions listed. While I think that teaching is a solid career choice, I think we are on the edge of changing our school systems. I think that teachers in private and charter schools will be more in demand in the years to come.
I think that researching possible careers before you decide on your major is a great first step for college students. While I think everyone has the right to do whatever you want to in life, you have to be realistic about your chosen professions job prospects and salary. There is no point in going to a great private college where you rack up $80,000 in student debt to pursue a career in a field that has limited job opportunities and a small salary. That doesn’t mean you cannot pursue it, but maybe it can be a hobby as opposed to a full time job.
One last point about the list above, don’t pick a career based on the salary alone or think that you will be making close to six figures the day after you graduate. Earning a high salary is going to take time and picking a career based only on salary will most likely leave you miserable. Find a happy medium between a career you will enjoy and that has good future prospects. That is the win-win situation you are looking for.