Opinion: Picking a Career is a “Major” Decision

How does one choose a major? Some may struggle to find a career path down which to head; others are far too rigid about what they want to pursue. Does one follow their passion or follow the paycheck? It’s possible to do both. Over time, as society changes and technology develops, some professions are becoming obsolete. However, if one is flexible, an interest in one path may lead to unexpected rewards.

Are you a “big idea” person, someone with the skills of imagination and persuasion? Some may consider a major in advertising. Sadly, your talent may not be put to the best use in this area. Kiplinger Online says that this profession has few openings and a low starting salary with little chance for growth. Worse still, ad agencies downsize their staffs whenever a client jumps ship, so there’s a good chance you will be out of a job due to no fault of your own. Instead, consider a related major: public relations. Kiplinger says that “advertising focuses on selling a carefully crafted image while the public relations works on creating an image out of news and events.”

If advertising isn’t your best skill, perhaps you have an interest in putting together technology. The amount of people employed in the field of technology assembly fell in 2016 to around the 45,700 mark. Computers are now being developed to build and maintain other computers. Rather than focusing on what many believed to be a computer maintenance field, consider electrical engineering, where you can focus your abilities on developing newer robotic technology.

One area of work once considered to be “safe” was hospitality and tourism. People with disposable cash and vacation time often need to make family holiday time a priority. Jobs like travel agent and hotel/motel/restaurant management seem like smart professions to land in. However, with a fickle economy, business-minded parents taking less vacation time, and the growth of online booking agents like Expedia.com, hospitality and tourism jobs have become endangered. SimpleDollar.com states that travel agents are expected to see a 12.1 percent drop in employment. However, a shift in focus to corporate event planning might be a way to take the same skills and shift them into a successful area. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for meeting and event planners is expected to grow at a rate of 11 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Finally, consider how saturated your field of interest is. A 2018 survey by the American Bar Association says there  has been a 15.2 percent rise over the past decade in number of U.S. lawyers. While you may have a love for a legal profession, perhaps finding a particular area of specialty will help plan out a stronger future.

When deciding on a major, keep in mind the demand for the jobs in your major field over the course of the next few decades. If you find an interesting career that’s rapidly declining in demand and employment options, it’s still possible to have a backup plan.