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The 10 Best Careers Right Now For Recent College Graduates

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One of the biggest fears for many college graduates is finding a good job that pays well and has solid career prospects.
Some career paths are going to be more beneficial and open to a recent grad. To help new degree holders find the right field, the University of California, San Diego has compiled its fifth annual list of “Hot Careers for College Graduates.

For this report, UCSD looked at four criteria — “current employment in the field, projected growth in the occupation between 2010 and 2020, median annual salary in the occupation, and workplace environment characteristics.”

The study also looked at “bridgeability factor,” a yes or no decision “based on whether a college graduate could bridge into the career with one or two years of study or reskilling.” Several careers — such as nurse, veterinarian, and pharmacist — scored well on UCSD’s criteria, but would be unobtainable for an untrained college graduate.

Almost half of the careers in the top 10 dealt with computers and technology, including the top two on the list. Although two different types of software developers — applications and systems — tied for the first spot on UCSD’s rankings, we decided to solely designate systems software developers as the number one career, based on its stronger long-term job prospects.

#10 Insurance Sales Agent

'As the population lives longer, there will be an increased need for insurance agents; the Bureau of Labour Statistics expects this career path to increase by 22% by 2020. Our research shows there are 336,740 insurance agents nationwide, earning a mean annual salary of $US63,400. Although one third of all insurance sales agents in 2010 reported having at least a bachelor's degree, only a high school diploma is required for entry to this job -- a unique factor among the top 10 hot careers.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#9 Public Relations Specialist

'Compared to other jobs on the hot careers list, public relations specialists represent the smallest number of people currently employed (201,280), but the field has a projected growth rate of 23% by 2020 ... The mean annual salary in the field, counting both corporate and self-employed public relations specialists, is $US61,980.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#8 Management Analyst

'There are a reported 540,440 employed nationwide at present. All industries -- even government organisations and not-for-profit organisations -- rely on the unique expertise of management analysts to operate efficiently. With the onset of the global economic recession that began in 2008, utilization of management consultants has been growing, and demand for these professionals is projected to continue to grow by 22% by 2020. The mean annual salary for management consultants is $US88,070.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#7 Computer Systems Analyst

'Computer systems analysts scored strongly in every category of hot careers evaluation. With 482,040 systems analysts currently employed in the U.S., the career category is projected to experience growth in demand of 22 per cent by 2020. With a mean annual salary of $US83,800, it is among the most highly remunerative job categories on the list.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#6 Elementary School Teacher

'Elementary school teachers have chosen an occupation that is high on the hot careers list because of the number of currently employed teachers -- 1,360,380. Outnumbering any other single occupation nationally, a teaching career path tends to offer a form of stability that is relatively rare in other fields of pursuit ... Overall demand for teachers is significant on a national level. From 2010 -- 2020, a large number of teachers from the Baby Boom generation are also expected to retire, which will create additional positions for new teachers and results in projected national growth in the career of 18% by 2020.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#5 Network/Computer Systems Administrator

'The criteria that landed this occupation on the hot careers list are a mean annual salary of $US76,320 paired with a projected growth rate of 28% by 2020. Increased reliance on technology in homes and every economic sector will continue to generate strong demand for graduates who can fulfil the numerous needs of users and enterprises. Currently, the U.S. government reports 350,320 systems administrators employed, but increasingly complex security threats, cybersurveillance, and upcoming 'meaningful use' requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 will no doubt continue to require additional manpower on the front lines of computer networks and systems.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#4 Accountant/Auditor

'Accountants and auditors earned the number four spot on the hot careers list because of the sheer demand for accounting jobs. At last official count, 1,129,340 people in the U.S. were employed as accountants and auditors, with a respectable projected growth rate in the field of 16% by 2020. The mean annual salary for accounting and audit careers is $US71,040, which has increased by nearly $US10,000 in the past three years alone (from $US61,690 in just 2010). Salary growth also illuminates why this is a promising career path for individuals with financial aptitude.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#3 Market Research Analyst/Marketing Specialist

'Government data shows 392,740 currently employed marketing research analysts under classification code 13-1161. Although the mean annual salary, $US67,380, is considerably less than the number one and number two careers in the hot careers list, the job outlook between now and 2020 shows a deep and urgent need for more qualified individuals in these positions, with a projected growth rate of 41 per cent by 2020.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#2 Software Developers -- Applications

'The difference between these types of software developers is that the applications software developers are more focused on the consumer side of the software development, testing and modifying the product to ensure the desired results, and the systems software developer's role pertains to the formulation and analysis of software requirements. A bachelor's degree in computer science or mathematics, as well as strong programming skills, are what an applicant usually needs for a job as an applications software developer.'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

#1 Software Developer -- Systems Software

'Although the demand for applications software developers is higher, systems software developers have a better projected employment growth rate (32% by 2020 versus 28% by 2020 for the applications software developers) as well as a higher mean annual salary ($102,550, almost $US5,000 more for the applications software developer).'

-- Via UCSD 'Hot Careers for College Graduates'

Thinking about heading back to school? Check this out first.

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