After a long period of economic sluggishness, American college students are finally getting some good news. Math and science majors, in particular, are looking at the best job prospects they have faced in years.
According to a survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 64 percent of human resources officers say their businesses will hire college graduates this year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 4.2 million jobs in America that are currently unfilled.
Math and science students have a particularly rosy market waiting for them with nearly twice as many job openings to choose from. These jobs also tend to pay better — the average starting salary is almost 25% higher than jobs in other fields. Overall salaries jumped 1.2 percent from last year with health sciences experiencing the largest increase at 3.7 percent.
Finding the Job That’s Right for You
Most colleges have a career center where you can find resources to help you make the transition from backpack to briefcase. The Career Services Department at Vista College helps students with job searches, resume writing, career opportunities, and interview preparation. Visit their student and graduates pages for services tailored to your situation. Your college career center is a helpful starting point for your job search in this improving economy.
Where the Jobs Are
The availability of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs tends to vary by state. If you’re a STEM student, consider moving to a part of the country where the jobs are plentiful.
On a per capita basis, the top five states for STEM jobs are:
- Washington state
In terms of the total number of STEM jobs, the top five states are:
- California (166,000)
- Texas (105,000)
- New York (71,000)
- Florida (65,000)
- Illinois (57,000)
Do the Math
Math and science are required in more jobs today than ever before. It’s not only traditional STEM fields such as accounting or statistics that are looking for these skills. The skills are increasingly important in health care and business. A new STEM graduate has access to 2.5 job openings at the entry level — a considerable jump from the 1.1 openings available to graduates who did not major in a math or science field.
A large amount of STEM jobs can be found in California, the eight-largest economy in the world. According to recent surveys, California’s most in-demand jobs were computer and math jobs. There is, of course, a large concentration of these jobs in Silicon Valley. However, STEM jobs can also be found in Los Angeles and throughout California.
Software Jobs Leading the Way
According to a study published by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Software developing is the most in-demand field in America. Following software developers were information technology professionals, sales representatives, and registered nurses. The report’s authors noted that STEM jobs accounted for 28% of online job postings for college graduates.
Today’s Graduates Are More Prepared
According to USA Today, today’s college students have, paradoxically, benefitted from the recession and recovery that began in 2008. Compared with the fallout on Wall Street and Main Street, college campuses were largely insulated from the harsher effects of the economic downturn. While students were shielded from some of the chaos, they braced themselves for a more difficult job market by networking more rigorously and beginning job searches earlier.
Students have reason to believe things are starting to swing their way. While the unemployment rate for college graduates between the ages of 20 and 29 is a disturbing 10.9 percent (4.6 percent higher than the national average), that’s down from 15.5 percent in 2009. Many of the key indicators suggest the economy is improving and students are better prepared for employment than ever.
Students have more ways to market themselves today than ever before. While social media can be crucial in building and maintaining your network, it can also be detrimental in your job search. In a Forbes article, author Kristi Hedges advises recent graduates to do a social media audit on yourself. Ensure your privacy controls are properly set and take down any potentially embarrassing posts or photos.
Hedges also recommends you network the old-fashioned way. Send thank you notes (by mail if possible) and look at every interview or meeting as an opportunity. Most people still get jobs based on their connections, so it remains crucial even in an improving economy, to build the strongest, widest network you can.
If you have questions about applying for jobs or networking, Vista College’s Career Services Department can help. Visit us today.