Four Secretly Cool College Majors
For decades, fields like medicine, law, and engineering have dominated both higher education and the marketplace. And for the most part, they still do; these three remain the most prestigious and sought-after careers in most surveys. But just behind them are a few college majors that lead to lucrative and meaningful careers, albeit without the glamour. If you’re not sure what to specialize in, here are some lesser-known career paths that can take you places.
Urban planners concern themselves with improving life quality in communities. Although the name suggests they work in cities, they also work their magic on small towns and distant suburbs; in fact, many of them specialize in the development of urban centers from such areas. As an urban planning major, you touch on different fields including economics, finance, real estate, architecture, engineering, and environmental science. You may end up working for government agencies, private companies, or non-profit organizations, and when you rack up enough experience you can make six figures a year.
It sounds pretty commonplace, but it’s a field that’s highly specialized yet surprisingly versatile. Organizational studies majors look into the way people behave as parts of organizations–towns, companies, clubs, even governments. Courses require good leadership and analytical skills, and as expected, graduates often rise quickly up the organizational ladder and manage their own teams within a year. Salaries range from $60,000 to $100,000 a year, depending on experience.
A fairly new term, informatics is part computer science and part social studies. It’s all about how humans relate to IT and how computers shape the modern world: how it’s made, processed, passed around, lost and preserved. On the job, you can expect to work in pretty much any field that requires data management–and these days that means just about anywhere. Banks, schools, and government offices are among the biggest customers. Because the job prospects are so varied, salaries can range from $30,000 a year to over $100,000.
Actuaries specialize in risk management and risk assessment for insurance, business, and management purposes. The field has been around for a long time, but it’s only fairly recently that a dedicated program has appeared in universities. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of math and statistics involved, as well as logic and code-cracking. It’s still a very small field, which means it’s highly competitive–once you get your degree, you have to pass a series of tests to be able to practice. But it’s all worth the trouble: an actuary can make up to $200,000 a year.