Choosing the right career is a delicate balancing act. Since you’ll want to have a long, successful career, you’ll want to choose a profession that lines up with your skills, abilities and interests. Also, unless you’re a trust fund baby, you’ll have bills to pay — along with desires you want filled — so you need to earn a decent salary.
However, many students and college graduates fail to consider another important factor: You need to choose a career that is in demand; it doesn’t matter how much you love your job or how much money it pays if no one is hiring for that position. How can you know if your career choice is in demand or not?
Fortunately, there are several resources that can help you determine the projected growth rates for most occupations.
The National Association of College of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducts Salary Survey reports to see how much employers are paying recent graduates. However, these reports also reveal which industries hire the most new graduates each year. For example, NACE reports that graduates who have a bachelor’s degree in business, engineering, computer and information sciences, math and science are in highest demand among its employer members. By individual majors, the most sought-after degrees are finance, accounting and computer science.
The best source for job outlook information, however, is the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects job growth for a 10-year period, and it also updates the information every few years.
The BLS publishes lists of the fastest-growing occupations and also the most new jobs. While those two may sound like the same classification, they are very different categories. The fastest-growing occupations are measured by growth rates. For example, the demand for industrial-organizational psychologists is at 53 percent, which is the highest growth rate in the country. As a point of comparison, the BLS predicts that demand for the average job will grow by 10.8 percent. There’s a big difference between 10.8 percent and 53 percent.
However, industrial-organizational psychologists don’t have the most new jobs because it is a small profession. According to employment statistics, there are currently 1,600 industrial-organizational psychologists, and the BLS projects that 900 new jobs will be added to the market by 2022. So even though the job is in high demand, there won’t be a whole lot of new jobs added to the market.
The occupation with the most new jobs is personal care aides. There are currently 1,190,600 personal care aides, and by the year 2022, the BLS projects that there will be an additional 580,800 jobs added to the market.
How can you determine if your job is in demand or not? The BLS has an "occupation finder" that lists information for 580 different jobs. This handy page will tell you a lot of pertinent information about a particular job, such as the amount of education required, how many new jobs are projected, the projected growth rate, and the median annual salary. Also, when you click on a particular occupation, the link will take you to a page that provides in-depth information about that profession.
So, if you click on "Accountants and Auditors," which is the first profession listed alphabetically, a new page opens that includes tabs that will provide a range of information, such as a list of the job duties for this profession, a description of the work environment, and a detailed job outlook page. If you click on this Job Outlook tab, there is an explanation of the growth rate for accountants and auditors.
For instance, the BLS states that this profession is projected to grow because of stricter laws and regulations as a result of corporate scandals, financial crises, tighter lender standards, and globalization. In addition, applicants who are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and those who have a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA with an accounting specialization may have an advantage.
Also, if you click on the Work Environment tab, the BLS provides information about the industries that hire the most accountants and auditors.
Armed with this type of data, students choosing a career, and graduates who want to know how to gain a competitive advantage in their chosen profession can make informed decisions.