During the credit crisis, the unemployment rate in the United States hit the double digits. It has come down since, but still hovers in the high single digits. As of May, the official unemployment rate was 8.2%, meaning that nearly one in 10 American citizens actively seeking a job has been unable to find one. However, there are certain fields in dire need of workers. Below are the professions where a job is nearly certain for those with an applicable degree or relevant work experience.
Healthcare-related positions dominated the top spots in recent study on college majors with the lowest unemployment rates, according to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The top four majors included a medical technology technician, nursing, treatment therapy and a medical assistant. Other categories to break the top 25 included pharmacists, medical administrative services and health education professions. Not all healthcare fields are recession proof, but the industry is certainly recession-resistant for the most part and has held up well through the latest economic downturn in the U.S.
Jobs that require math skills continue to be in heavy demand. Besides teaching mathematics as a profession, there aren't many jobs listed specifically as math-related, but fields with low unemployment rates that have a heavy math emphasis include mechanical engineering, physics, finance and electrical engineering. Unemployment rates in these categories were as low as 3.8% and topped out at 5%, which is still significantly below the nationwide average. Actuarial science, which is extremely heavily math-oriented, has been estimated to nearly guarantee a job for those that major in it and pass the exams required to gain a designation as an actuary.
Science-related professions are another broad category, but also rank highly in terms of low unemployment rates coming out of school. Astrophysics and geophysics engineering list unemployment rates as low as zero, which virtually guarantees a job for those that pursue the professions. Other solid areas to pursue include geosciences and criminal justice, the last of which can require a heavy science emphasis.
The Bottom Line
A Georgetown University study entitled "Not all College Degrees are Created Equal" can provide further insight into the fields that offer the best opportunities for employment after graduation. The reality is that employment rates vary because of many factors, be it geography, age of the job seeker and education level. Rates can actually vary widely based on these factors. For instance, those pursuing employment in the architectural field can see unemployment rates in a range of 7.7% and 13.9%, based on the factors mentioned above.
As one might expect, individuals with graduate degrees generally find it easier to find jobs, as do those with relevant work experience. Still, there are professions to pursue for those without work experience. Sticking to the above categories can definitely help more recent graduates.