T Nation

Majors/Career Outlook

How accurate are those online lists that name top majors? Usually they are according to potential salary but, what majors have the best career outlook?

My sister is a senior in high school and is beginning to look into schools/majors.

  • Out of curiosity is there a good major that does require a huge amount of math? Even science degrees that do not really name math requirements, require it to get the higher level science courses.

You sort of need to have a crystal ball to predict the outlook on any given career. There’s an awful lot of other things to consider as well.

What are her interests? Some people go through life doing work they hate for a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean it is good for everyone or even most people.

What are her strengths? If she is bad at math and unwilling or unable to get good at math many lucrative careers - like engineering - are quickly ruled out.

Where does she want to live? If you want to be a you need to live where those jobs exist.

How much does she want to make? If she wants to be a National Park Ranger but wants to make $250,000/yr she needs to re-evaluate her expectations.

Is she willing to work long hours to establish herself in her chosen field? Many fields require you to put some serious work in.

Does she want her career to revolve around her life or her life to revolve around her career? No right answer here, but it behooves one to consider this before setting out on a given path.

Does she want to work for a corporation, a small business or as an independent business? Again, it is important for her to manage her expectations about any given career and to have a realistic idea about what day-to-day life as a might look like.

As it stands, my line of work as a Business Analyst is currently in-demand and pays fairly well. There are several paths one can take to become a business analyst. Some people come from a computer science background, others from a business background. The latter would be the path with less math.

Read Dr. Matt’s long post in this thread. It is gold.

Jobs???

That’s sooooo 1990s.

Brother, you need to find the best racket that give you the best benefits for life. Some disability, condition, grievience, etc.

Welcome to the Nanny state. This is what “we” voted for twice, and will vote for again since too many have their damn bennies now.

Start looking at the best state to live in that has the best bennies and move there.

Seriously. (Sort of)

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Read Dr. Matt’s long post in this thread. It is gold.

I just read it and second that. Have her read it.

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Read Dr. Matt’s long post in this thread. It is gold.

I just read it and second that. Have her read it.
[/quote]

And sadly, most lucrative careers require at least an intermediate level of math or understanding of math. There’s a reason for that.

this was funny, until i realized how not funny it was…

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

As it stands, my line of work as a Business Analyst is currently in-demand and pays fairly well. There are several paths one can take to become a business analyst. Some people come from a computer science background, others from a business background. The latter would be the path with less math.[/quote]

For someone approaching this career from a non-technical side, what would be the recommended course of action?

As in what kind of technical skills should I look to develop make me a more rounded candidate for a business analysis/intelligence job?

Regarding absurd college debt-

Isn’t that only the case for private schools? I went to a public, and tuition was 5k or so per quarter (roughly 15k a year in other words) the first 3 years. Then it jumped up to 6. something k at the last year.

Ignoring dorm fees and housing/food costs and whatnot, my college education cost ~63k. Compared to Harvard demanding ~45k/year, I think that’s pretty good.

Could try IT.

Define “huge amounts of math”.

Most engineering majors will require calculus and statistics at the undergraduate level. This is enough to get you through a lot of engineering undergraduate degrees. Anytime you get into “theoretical” areas and graduate courses you will start having to deal with more specialized math. This usually involves more stats, numerical methods, diff eqs, etc.

A lot of the easier stuff deals with designing experiments to test hypothesises then collecting data and determining if it is statistically significant enough to support your hypothesis. While the later topic can get pretty heavy, you can get by by just memorizing what procedures to use in which case and plug your data into some software that does the math for you. At some point, you should understand the theory and statistics behind this but it will come in time.

I don’t want to pick on any major, but human factors engineering (HFE = 1/2 a freaking engineer I’ve heard it called), civil engineering, and industrial or industrial and systems engineering are typically the easier ones. There’s always specializations within engineering programs and some get into very mathematically intense material. Still, there are a lot of good paying jobs out there in these areas dealing more with application of known material rather than doing cutting edge research.

[quote]DN90 wrote:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

As it stands, my line of work as a Business Analyst is currently in-demand and pays fairly well. There are several paths one can take to become a business analyst. Some people come from a computer science background, others from a business background. The latter would be the path with less math.[/quote]

For someone approaching this career from a non-technical side, what would be the recommended course of action?

As in what kind of technical skills should I look to develop make me a more rounded candidate for a business analysis/intelligence job? [/quote]

Without knowing much about your situation I can only give you very general advice. The best way to break into this line of work, generally speaking, is to become a member of an ERP software implementation team. These are long projects, often measured in years, that large and mid-size companies undertake in order to implement complex software that models their business processes and handles their accounting.

The skill set required for this job (from a non-technical side) can be quite broad, depending on the size of the company. Generally speaking, you need to be an expert in some area of business, such as transportation, manufacturing, marketing, warehousing, sales, quality control, accounting, planning, etc. Having literacy in more than one is good. Having literacy or expertise in all of those is best.

This job is all about making sure that the business software accurately models the business processes, so being literate in whatever system you are implementing is also very important.

Again, this is general advice. YMMV.

[quote]magick wrote:
Regarding absurd college debt-

Isn’t that only the case for private schools? I went to a public, and tuition was 5k or so per quarter (roughly 15k a year in other words) the first 3 years. Then it jumped up to 6. something k at the last year.

Ignoring dorm fees and housing/food costs and whatnot, my college education cost ~63k. Compared to Harvard demanding ~45k/year, I think that’s pretty good.[/quote]

63k is A LOT of money, and you said that’s WITH OUT dorm/food expenses.

The Educational Industrial Complex is at work no matter where you choose to go for college.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics does a pretty good job of presenting outlooks for different careers in terms of hiring and salary, but makes no attempts at portraying “happiness.” I also believe high school kids have no conception of what sort of lifestyles different salaries entail.

US News and World Report also does rankings of “Best Jobs,” (As well as most overrated, etc.), though you can question their methodologies.

These also might be worth checking out:
Most Recommended Majors


Least

Also, regarding her interest in math… she might want to take an applied course. I’ve met lots of people that hated math, but when they saw what you can do with it in the real world are very interested. ie, someone I know scored in the 6th percentile on the quant portion of the GRE and is very interested in epidemiology.

Also, RE: college debt… I went public for undergrad and private for grad. My grad school was MUCH more expensive, but I got MUCH more aid, so it was actually cheaper.

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
I also believe high school kids have no conception of what sort of lifestyles different salaries entail.
[/quote]

This for sure! I can’t even count on two hands how many of my friends are in debt up to their eyeballs not realizing they’ll be lucky to make more than $40k a year after graduating.

My gf’s sister is a teacher and certainly does not like the lifestyle the salary commands, BUT she loves her job.

I’m starting to believe a crappy lifestyle with a rewarding job is a lot easier to deal with than a job you hate but has a nice life style.

[quote]ZJStrope wrote:
I’m starting to believe a crappy lifestyle with a rewarding job is a lot easier to deal with than a job you hate but has a nice life style.[/quote]

you need to define “lifestyle” because a lot of what determines this is where you live. but i agree 100%

[quote]DN90 wrote:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

As it stands, my line of work as a Business Analyst is currently in-demand and pays fairly well. There are several paths one can take to become a business analyst. Some people come from a computer science background, others from a business background. The latter would be the path with less math.[/quote]

For someone approaching this career from a non-technical side, what would be the recommended course of action?

As in what kind of technical skills should I look to develop make me a more rounded candidate for a business analysis/intelligence job? [/quote]
What stage are you at in your education/work? I personally wouldn’t study or specifically work to become a BA for fear of getting stuck there.

[quote]browndisaster wrote:
What stage are you at in your education/work? I personally wouldn’t study or specifically work to become a BA for fear of getting stuck there.[/quote]

I suppose it is a relative statement, but getting stuck at a six figure salary with a good work/life balance is not the worst outcome for a business professional.

The prospect of independent consultancy rates of 100 to 250 dollars an hour for the experienced and skilled BA is nothing to sneeze at either, unless you happen to be exceptionally wealthy.

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

[quote]browndisaster wrote:
What stage are you at in your education/work? I personally wouldn’t study or specifically work to become a BA for fear of getting stuck there.[/quote]

I suppose it is a relative statement, but getting stuck at a six figure salary with a good work/life balance is not the worst outcome for a business professional.

The prospect of independent consultancy rates of 100 to 250 dollars an hour for the experienced and skilled BA is nothing to sneeze at either, unless you happen to be exceptionally wealthy.

[/quote]
I would definitely not mind billing at 100-250 lol, and agree that’s not being “stuck.” A BA at that level would definitely have good technical and/or management skills IMO

[quote]browndisaster wrote:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

[quote]browndisaster wrote:
What stage are you at in your education/work? I personally wouldn’t study or specifically work to become a BA for fear of getting stuck there.[/quote]

I suppose it is a relative statement, but getting stuck at a six figure salary with a good work/life balance is not the worst outcome for a business professional.

The prospect of independent consultancy rates of 100 to 250 dollars an hour for the experienced and skilled BA is nothing to sneeze at either, unless you happen to be exceptionally wealthy.

[/quote]
I would definitely not mind billing at 100-250 lol, and agree that’s not being “stuck.” A BA at that level would definitely have good technical and/or management skills IMO[/quote]

I think I got your original point. I tend to agree not to specifically aim for a BA career as these are hard to come by from what I have seen and generally require more experience than a college student can obtain. A student would be wise to have a fall back in other business areas IMO.