Healthcare and business programs were in hot demand by students throughout 2017, as reported throughout the year in our quarterly Higher Education Inquiry Generation Reviews. How did this compare to years prior? And what were the other top programs? Read on to discover.
#10 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Precision Production
The precision production category of higher education programs made the top 10 list in 2017 despite a gloomy outlook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment for production occupations was projected to decline from 2016 to 2026 as technological advancements replace people in manufacturing environments. The median annual wage for production occupations was also below average, according to BLS data.
Top precision production program:
• Welding Technology/Welder
#9 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Liberal Arts & Sciences, General Studies & Humanities
Despite liberal arts majors being called a “dying breed,” the liberal arts category was in the top 10 for 2017. According to Willard Dix, Forbes contributor
, former Amherst College admissions officer and current college counselor for underserved families, liberal arts programs are designed for “broadening the mind and ‘liberating’ it from parochial divisions and unthinking prejudice. It encourages the questioning of assumptions and reliance on facts as well as an understanding that even facts can be interpreted differently through different lenses. Ideally, it enables individuals to gather information, interpret it, and make informed decisions on a wide variety of topics.”
Top liberal arts programs:
• Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies
• General Studies
#8 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Public Administration & Social Service Professions
The BLS projected 14% growth for community and social service occupations from 2016 to 2026. This faster-than-average growth is focused in new counselor and social work positions. The employability along with federal student loan forgiveness for those who pursue public service have made this program category popular. But funding may be about to change. Recently proposed legislation
is designed to cap graduate loans at $28,500 per year, revise income-driven repayment options and eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Community and social service occupations had a median income of $42,990 in May 2016, according to the BLS. If student loan options are unfavorably revised, the popularity of these programs may slip.
Top public administration programs:
• Human Services, General
• Public Administration
#7 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting & Related Protective Services
Falling in the seventh spot on the list, the protective services category covers a long list of programs and related occupations, most with projected average growth according to the BLS. For example, the police and detectives, firefighters and emergency management occupations are all expected to see 7-8% employment from 2016 to 2026. Meanwhile, the information security field is looking significantly stronger, with 28% growth projected due to the need to prevent hackers.
Top protective service programs:
• Criminal Justice/Police Science
• Homeland Security
• Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism
#6 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Computer & Information Sciences & Support Services
We live in an increasingly digital world, so it’s not at all surprising to see the computer programs category on the top 10 list of in-demand higher education programs for 2017. The BLS projected 13% growth (from 2016 to 2026) for computer and information technology occupations with a strong median annual wage of $82,860 as of mid-2016. Computer and information research scientists see the highest published annual wage, according to the BLS, but these positions typically require a master’s degree.
Top computer programs:
• Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design
• Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst
• Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
• Information Technology
• Computer Programming/Programmer, General
#5 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Mechanic & Repair Technologies/Technicians
Mechanic programs were high in demand in 2017 with occupation growth varying greatly across the different categories of repair. Growth of 15% is projected for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) mechanic occupations, 10% for diesel service technicians and 6% for automotive technicians according to BLS data. Wages throughout the repair technologies categories fell in the $38,000 to $45,000 range in 2016.
Top mechanic & repair programs:
• Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation and Refrigeration Maintenance Technology/Technician
• Automobile/Automotive Mechanics Technology/Technician
• Diesel Mechanics Technology/Technician
#4 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Psychology
The need for psychologists is projected to grow faster than other professions between now and 2026, with high-level degrees and specialties increasing individual demand. Psychology is a high-paying occupation, with a median wage of $75,230 per year, but significant education, internships and licensing requirements may be required to start practicing.
Top psychology programs:
• Psychology, General
• Counseling Psychology
• Industrial and Organizational Psychology
• Forensic Psychology
• Clinical Psychology
#3 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Education
Employment of the educators (including trainers and librarians) was projected to grow by 9% from 2016 to 2026 due to an increase in enrollment from elementary through college levels. The median wage for educators was $48,000 in 2016, but salaries vary significantly from $25,000 for teacher assistants to $75,000 and beyond for higher-level instructors. In addition, demand and salary levels are impacted by state and local budgets.
Top education programs:
• Early Childhood Education and Teaching
• Education, General
• Educational Leadership and Administration, General
• Elementary Education and Teaching
• Special Education and Teaching, General
#2 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Business, Management, Marketing & Related Support Services
Business was the most popular higher education category in 2013, but demand slipped in 2014 even though the Business Administration and Management, General remained the most popular singular program. For the past four years, the business category remained in the second-place spot despite continued SOV slips. In 2017, demand for business programs started to climb again.
Top business programs:
• Business Administration and Management, General
• Office Management and Supervision
• Organizational Leadership
• Business/Commerce, General
#1 Higher Education Program Category for 2017: Health Professions & Related Programs
Accounting for one-half of all campus-based inquiries and more than one-third of online inquiries, healthcare programs generated the greatest demand in 2017. But there’s no surprise here. Health programs have been on the top since 2014, when it took the lead from the business category.
Top healthcare programs:
• Nursing/Registered Nurse (RN, ASN, BSN, MSN)
• Medical Insurance Coding Specialist/Coder
• Medical/Clinical Assistant
• Health/Health Care Administration/Management
• Medical Office Assistant/Specialist
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