Have you ever wondered how important your student’s college major is to his or her future career opportunities? Then, here are four facts that you’ll want to know.
FACT #1: MAJOR MATTERS MOST FOR CAREERS THAT REQUIRE LICENSURE
If your student plans to pursue a career in a field that requires (or encourages) licensure, then he or she must choose the major that is a prerequisite for obtaining such a license. Fields where licenses are required or enhance career advancement include engineering, nursing, and accounting. Therefore, students who wish to work in these careers should major in engineering, nursing, and accounting respectively, or expect to complete additional undergraduate coursework in the future. Is your student uncertain about the requirements to practice in his or her career of choice? Then career research can help. Have your student visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook to study the requirements for working in various professions.
FACT #2: MAJOR MAY INFLUENCE EARLY OPTIONS, BUT NOT LONGTERM OPTIONS
The National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that major has a strong influence on students being hired for their first job. However, the emphasis on major disappears as young professionals gain more experience, which is evident in the number of job and career changes made by today’s millenials. So, if your student is considering fields that don’t require licensure, then he or she can choose from a variety of majors.Here are two tips to help him or her narrow down the options.
First, help your student pinpoint a couple of careers he or she might pursue immediately after college. Then have him or her explore the majors most commonly held by people in those professions. Second, have your student explore the requirements for majors that relate to his or her greatest career interests. The major that your student finds most interesting and is in greatest alignment with his or her skills is likely the best choice. It’s also a good idea to have your student compare professional development opportunities among majors. Major departments at your student’s college that offer special networking and career preparation programs should also be highly considered.
FACT #3: EMPLOYERS CARE MOST ABOUT SKILLS, EXPERIENCE, WORK ETHIC, AND ATTITUDE
If your student’s primary goal is to maximize post-college options and opportunities, then he or she needs to focus on performance. When a college graduate demonstrates that his or her skills and experiences relate to a job, it’s easy to catch the attention of an employer…regardless of major. This, combine with a strong work ethic and great attitude are the formula for getting hired.
Help your student realize that the hard work often begins after he or she has found the right major. It’s now time for your student to translate what he or she is learning into concrete skills. These skills can help your student gain an internship, which then opens the door for new experiences and a chance to put his or her work ethic and attitude to the test. If your student is successful, he or she should find it easy to get endorsements from supervisors and colleagues.
FACT #4: MAJOR INFLUENCES SALARY…SORT OF
No discussion about major is complete without acknowledging that majors are often tied to salaries. However, before your student sets his or her sights on finding the majors that pay the most, he or she needs to consider a few facts. First, a major in a high-paying field doesn’t guarantee an above average salary. For example, engineering majors make the list of highest paid graduates. However, the bottom quarter of engineers earn less than the top quarter of liberal arts graduates.
Second, students have to continue working in a high-paying field to reap the benefits of a major related to that field. So, if your student lacks passion or skills related to a high-paying career, he or she may not have the stamina to stay to stay in that field. A better course of action is for your student to focus on what can maximize his or her income regardless of profession (and major).
Students often put a lot of emphasis on choosing the right major. The truth is major is only part of what prepares students for their future. Help your student consider specific majors for the right reasons by sharing these facts with him or her.