In a society constantly being transformed by new technology, a college student may find themselves flipping through their course books, asking themselves “What am I going to major in?”
The world of tomorrow might seem strange and different from where we stand today, but the career paths young students decide on now will drastically affect their earnings in the coming decades. Let’s take a look at some of the major career fields of the future.
Bioengineers have traditionally worked on prosthetics and large medical machinery. With the advent of new medical technologies, the door is open for new avenues of exploration as a bioengineer, particularly in partnership with nanotechnologists, biologists, and more. Their job outlook is impressive, with a growth rate of 62% and an average wage of over 80k a year. A Bachelor’s degree is the entry level into this field.
This field is becoming incredibly important, as our understanding what can be done with nanotechnology grows. Governments around the world are creating initiatives to encourage research and education in nanotech and it is finding use in nearly every industry. Universities are only beginning to create degree paths for this field, so well educated applicants have a strong lead over others. The National Science Foundation expects that there will be an increase in nanotech jobs by 800,000 in the US alone by 2015. The current average salary in the US is over $100k.
Physics is undergoing some interesting shifts lately. It is an exciting time to be involved in the world of particle physics in particular, as new discoveries are reorganizing how we look at the world of the tiny forces that impact our world. While not the fastest growing industry, though it is still undergoing 14% growth, it is uniquely suited to provide opportunity to be a part of inspiring discoveries that can alter how generations will view the world. The current median pay is just over $100k a year, and most physicists have a doctorate.
This industry combines principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to solve the very real and pressing issues caused by environmental damage. As society becomes more aware of the impact of climate change, environmental engineers will play a more central and vital role to bring us to a healthy future. They are experiencing a faster growth rate (22%) and expect that to continue. Entry level is a Bachelor’s degree which can help one earn a respectable nearly $79k a year.
We are at the precipice of a water crisis. Fresh water is a limited commodity and many of our natural fresh water sources globally are becoming tremendously polluted or are drying up as their source glaciers fade away. The hydrologist is an expert on how our global water works; they study water cycles and what impacts them and then use that knowledge to help resolve problems relating to quality and availability. They are going to be incredibly vital in the years to come. They are forecasted to experience an 18% growth rate and earn, on average, $75.5 annually. Most hydrologists come into the field with a Master’s degree.
While not the fastest growing job, it is a solid option for a low-degree entry requirement that pays well and provides an interesting field to work in. Materials engineers create all manner of products as well as develop new materials. With advancements in technology, materials engineers are going to have ever more interesting building blocks to work with. They can enter the field with just a Bachelor’s degree and earn on average over 80k annually.
Those working as petroleum engineers can expect one of the highest salaries in the US according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at $114,080 annually and can get started in their field with just a Bachelor’s degree. They will spend most of their time in labs, but may also spend great amounts of time at drilling sites to assist in their development of better methods to extract oil and gas from subterranean deposits.
This industry is experiencing a considerable amount of growth, 31% in the next decade. They spend their time in the lab understanding how cells develop and grow. A lot of our medical advancements are targeting activity that happens on a very small scale within our bodies, and biochemists have a chance to get involved in the research that may dramatically revolutionize how we treat disease and illness. Most enter the field with a doctorate and can expect an average income of just under $80k annually.
Though the BLS predicts a slower than average growth, at just 5%, the chance of this industry growing more rapidly than predicted due to the emergence of private industry into space. With the successful launch of private spacecraft, and the completion of a private spaceport, we will see an increased need in innovation for space-faring equipment and vehicles. Those interested in the industry can expect to enter it with a Bachelor’s degree and earn an average of nearly $100k annually.
The impact of climate change is becoming a hot topic, one gaining more traction and thus funding with our elected officials. Atmospheric scientists are an important part of the equation in working out exactly how climate change will impact our world. Their studies can help predict how a number of variables will affect things like extreme weather patterns. They enter the field typically with a Bachelor’s degree and can expect just under $90k annually in salary.
While careers in Law, Business and Real Estate will surely be around tomorrow, it is becoming clear that jobs based in the Sciences will hold huge potential for earnings in the coming decades. For someone interested in the sciences, be they hard or soft, it’s an exciting time to be alive.
Justin Mills is a freelance writer with a background in teaching and programming, contributing frequently to college and career sites such as DegreeJungle.com. In his spare time Justin enjoys taking care of his daughter Sarah, and playing with his Golden Retriever Samuel.