5 Tips for Picking the Right Major for Your Career
One Of The Biggest Parts Of Your College Experience Is The Major That You Choose...
When it comes to choosing your major, there are many things to consider, but the best place to start is your chosen career. You may already know what you want to do after graduation or you may still be figuring it out. Whatever the case, the right major for you is out there. You may even discover what career you want to pursue based on what major you choose!
Everyone’s experience is different, but sooner or later, you’re going to have to commit to one or two areas of study while you’re in college. By taking the time to ask the right questions, you’ll be starting college with a vision for yourself and your future.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND IN THIS ARTICLE:
- Why College Majors Matter
- What Degree Does My Career Require?
- How to Pick the Right Major for Your Desired Career
- The Right Major is Out There for You!
Why College Majors Matter
You may be wondering why you have to pick a major in the first place. At the end of the day, your college major directly affects what kind of jobs you will be considered for after graduation. It’s an incredibly important decision, and not one you want to take lightly.
That’s the whole purpose of choosing a major: to set you up for your career. In most cases, for four years, you study a very specific field in-depth and learn all about how to work in a certain industry. Some degree programs even require students to complete an internship or a part-time job in order to graduate.
For example, if you’re studying to receive a teacher’s license in History, at some point in your degree program you will have to work as a teacher’s assistant in a local school. This way, you can receive hands-on training in the same career you’re about to enter.
College majors can be very helpful in this way. They prepare you for a specific career and provide you with connections that will open you up to further opportunities.
However, you may not know what career you’d like to pursue. If this is the case, your choice of career may be influenced by the major you choose. In this case, instead of choosing a major with your career in mind, you should choose a major based on your interests, passions, and talents.
Of course, this may take some time and you may change majors once or twice while you’re in school as you find your niche. Thankfully, colleges offer more options for their students than ever before. Overall, there are many ways for students today to find their perfect major so they can be well-prepared for their career, so long as they know where to look.
What Degree Does My Career Require?
Before you start considering majors, think about the career you’d like to pursue. In order to gain employment in that field, you need to know what degrees and majors most employers will require.
The most common careers in the U.S. today rarely require more than a Bachelor’s degree, however, obtaining a Master’s degree by going to graduate school could make you a commodity in your future field. Depending on the career, you may also find a certain trend or link between major and the kind of employees that get hired:
If you want to be a doctor, then you will be going into the field of medicine. Doctors go through 8-10 years of schooling, depending on what specific practice of medicine they want to focus on. These 8-10 years include a 4-year undergraduate program as well as medical school.
Most common majors and degrees:
- Bachelor’s in Biology or Pre-Med
- Doctorate in various medical fields (received upon completion of medical school)
Training for nurses is just as rigorous as training for doctors. Registered nurses, or RN’s, must also complete 8-10 years of school in order to be qualified to work at a clinic or a hospital. At least an associate’s degree in Nursing is required, but if you need to choose a major at a four-year university, you may want to consider a Bachelor’s in Nursing.
In addition to your degree, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX exam, which is the standardized test for all nursing students. Upon passing this exam, you’ll receive your certification as a registered nurse. Here are some of the most common majors and degrees among nurses:
- Associate’s in Nursing (required)
- Bachelor’s in Nursing
- Passing the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination)
Jobs in the teaching field require a Bachelor’s degree in the subject that you’d like to teach, along with a Teacher’s License. Some colleges offer majors that are specifically geared towards students who want a career in teaching. In this case, you’ll be part of a degree program that includes your Teacher’s License at graduation.
Most teaching majors focus on what grade level you’d like to teach as well. For example, if you want to be a teacher in an Elementary school, then you should consider majoring in Elementary Education.
If your college doesn’t have a teaching-centered major, you should consider majoring in the subject you’d like to eventually teach. Anything in the STEM branch of education is a great option (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), as are the other primary subjects that are taught in K-12 schools:
- U.S. History
- U.S. Government
- Social Studies
If you want to become a professor at a university or college, you’ll need to pursue a Master’s degree after finishing your undergraduate program.
Regardless of the level and subject you’d like to teach, these are the common degrees that most teachers pursued before being hired:
- Bachelor’s in Elementary Education
- Bachelor’s in the subject you’d like to teach (required)
- Teacher Licensure (required)
- Master’s (if you plan on teaching at the collegiate level)
There are many different careers you can pursue in Business:
- Business Management
- Entrepreneurship (starting businesses)
- Business Administration
A business degree is by far one of the most opportunity-producing degrees available to college students. Receiving a degree in Business means that you can get a job virtually anywhere that needs clerical and administrative work done, and there are thousands of companies that are constantly looking to fill those positions. These entry-level position can ultimately lead to a higher position in the company, closer to your skill set. Some common degrees in the Business career field include a Bachelor’s in any Business-related major such as:
- Human Resources
GOVERNMENT AND SOCIAL SERVICES
There are many majors that can set you up for a career in the U.S. government. Our government hires people who hold degrees in a vast array of disciplines.
Working for the government can mean being a council-member, or holding a place in public office. Perhaps you work as an analyst, or maybe you help plan social or economic policies. Either way, certain majors and degrees can help you prepare for a career as a government employee.
Most common majors and degrees:
- Bachelor’s in Political Science
- Bachelor’s in Business Administration or Management
- Bachelor’s in Social Work or Social Services
- Bachelor’s in Public Policy
Engineers work hard to help their communities function at their best. There are multiple disciplines under the umbrella of Engineering and all of them have the potential to offer excellent job security and great pay:
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Petroleum Engineering
In order to have a career in Engineering, you’ll need:
- Bachelor’s in Engineering (required)
A career in hospitality can open up many opportunities for you in:
- Hotel management and operation
- Travel agency work
- Tourism operations
People who work in Hospitality constantly serve other people. A career in tourism can take you to many different exotic locations while working hard to make guests and visitors feel at home. In order to find a career in hospitality, many college students work towards:
- Bachelor’s in Hospitality
- Bachelor’s in Tourism Studies
- Bachelor’s in International Relations
- Bachelor’s in Hotel Management
- Bachelor’s in Hotel Administration
- Bachelor’s in Restaurant Management
MEDIA AND JOURNALISM
A career in media and journalism means working with today’s news, media, and entertainment companies. Today, the media industry is very important and in need of content creators, writers, and editors to serve our media-hungry society.
In order to work in media and journalism, you’ll need a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in a media and journalism-related field:
- Bachelor’s in Journalism
- Bachelor’s in Media Studies
- Bachelor’s in Communications
- Bachelor’s in English
FIRST RESPONDERS (POLICE, FIRE, EMT & PARAMEDIC)
First responders are the unsung heroes of every town in America. In the event of an emergency or natural disasters, police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are the ones running into the mess in order to help others get out.
In order to be hired in any of these careers, the only education that’s required is the completion of high school, or the GED. However, some fields now require at least an Associate’s degree. For police officers, graduation from the local or state-level Police Academy is required, and EMT’s must complete specific training before they can begin working in that field.
While graduating from a four-year university isn’t required for these fields, you may still want to go to college for the other opportunities it provides. If this is the case, you should consider studying for a:
- Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor’s in Political Science
- Bachelor’s in Forensics
Being a first responder is a very important job, and working towards a career in this field can be helped by a certain degree or program completion:
- High school GED (required)
- Associate’s degree in Emergency Management
- EMT certification (required)
- Police Academy graduation (required)
How To Pick The Right Major For Your Desired Career
You may notice that for most careers, there’s a wide range of majors that are considered acceptable for employment in that field. So, how do you pick the right major when you have so many options?
EXPLORE YOUR GOALS
Before you pick your major, it’s important that you decide what career field you want to be a part of when you graduate. You may feel like you have more than enough time to figure this out, but the time to decide is actually closer than you think. Four years go by quickly, and before you know it, you’ll be diving headfirst into the workplace.
You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do. All you need to pay attention to is the field that you find interesting. Can you see yourself excelling in a specific job or discipline?
For example, you may find law enforcement intriguing. The problem is, you don’t know exactly what you would do; you could be a police officer, a detective, or even someone who works for the FBI. You don’t have to know right now, but if you’re interested in law enforcement, some good majors to consider would be things like Forensics, Emergency Management, and Criminal Justice.
You can use this approach with any career field. Do you like animals? Consider veterinary studies, or something a little more specific like animal training or wildlife preservation and rehabilitation.
In any case, don’t put a bubble around yourself when you’re thinking about your future career. Look at the goals you already have in place, and explore by asking yourself specific, targeted questions. Can you see yourself pursuing this career for a long time? Would you enjoy the classes this major requires? Questions like these will help you see if a certain major would be a good fit for you.
PURSUE AN INTERNSHIP
There’s no better way to find out how a career works than immersing yourself into it personally. So, when you know which career you’d like to pursue, apply for internships.
Internships are a great way to receive hands-on learning while getting to meet other people who have made that career their life’s work.
With an internship, you can ask the people you’re working for questions like how they got to where they are, what they majored in, and what they wish they had done differently. Once you learn about what they studied in college and how they landed their dream job, you can weigh your options and plan out a similar path.
MEET WITH ALUMNI
Use your school’s resources and find alumni that pursued the same field. If you can contact them, ask them what they majored in during their time at college and what kind of jobs they applied for.
You could also find alumni from the colleges you’re planning on applying to. They would be able to tell you what their major was, and if they were involved with any clubs. They can even provide you with great connections so your transition after graduation is smooth and full of great opportunities.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
After talking with others and exploring your own goals for the future, research the majors you’re considering and find out what careers those majors lead to.
Picture yourself studying that major and consider how those classes would dictate your everyday life. Remember, your major will dictate what classes you take and, ultimately, your workload as well.
Find out how many credits certain majors require, and if that amount will be too much for your schedule. Will you be able to graduate in four years? Will you enjoy your required classes? Will you have time to play sports and participate in extracurricular activities?
Doing your research now will save you time and energy in the future. You’ll be assured that you found the right major for you.
WORK WITH A COUNSELOR
After researching on your own and getting other’s opinions, if you still don’t know what you should major in, talk to a counselor. It’s a college counselor’s job to help answer all of your questions and concerns regarding what major to choose.
Additionally, having a second pair of eyes considering your situation will give you an alternative perspective. A counselor may be able to bring new questions and thoughts to light that you hadn’t thought of before.
The Right Major Is Out There For You!
Regardless of what career you want to pursue, there is a major that will lead you to the best career opportunities. College majors matter because they function as a launching pad: ready to launch you into your career along with prospects, connections, and experience under your belt.
Remember, the most common careers in the U.S. usually require a Bachelor’s degree in a related major while some careers require years of schooling and several certifications. Make sure you know what kind of college experience you’re going to have based on the career you’ve chosen.
From there, explore your plans for the future. Consider everything from your likes and dislikes, to your goals. Get hands-on experience through an internship and meet other people who were in your shoes. Then, make connections with alumni and other people in the career you’re considering. They were right where you are today, so they should be able to provide you with some wisdom and insight regarding what your prospective career really looks like and what major would be best.
Finally, if you’re craving some expert guidance, reach out to one of WeAdmit's professional counselors. We’re standing by, ready to answer your questions and listen to your concerns. Here at WeAdmit, we strive to give students a refreshing perspective that will ultimately help you make any college-related decision you need to make.
Finding The Right College Major For You Matters. Let Us Help You Find It!
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