A large percentage of college students graduate with a social science or humanities major, assuaged by colleges' sales pitches for liberal arts majors. But a front-page piece in today's New York Times on where the jobs are may give you pause.
Many of the jobs promising good pay and solid job prospects even in bad times require no more than a vocational (not college prep) high school diploma plus on-the-job training. None of those listed require a graduate degree. Here are the key quotes from that article:
"Employers are begging for qualified applicants for certain occupations...Welder is one, employers report. Critical care nurse is another. Electrical lineman is yet another, particularly those skilled in stringing high-voltage wires across the landscape. Special education teachers are in demand. (This does require some modest graduate training). So are geotechnical engineers, trained in geology as well as engineering, a combination sought for oil field work. Respiratory therapists, who help the ill breathe, are not easily found, at least not by the Permanente Medical Group, which employs more than 30,000 health professionals. And with infrastructure spending now on the rise, (experienced) civil engineers are in demand to supervise the work.""For these hard-to-fill jobs, there seems to be a common denominator. Employers are looking for people who have acquired an exacting skill, first through education — often just high school vocational training — and then by honing it on the job. (emphasis mine.) That trajectory, requiring years, is no longer so easy in America, said Richard Sennett, a New York University sociologist. The pressure to earn a bachelor’s degree draws young people away from occupational training, particularly occupations that do not require college, Mr. Sennett said."
"The Conference Board breaks the advertised (job) openings into 22 broad occupational categories and compares those with the number of unemployed whose last job, according to the bureau, was in each category. In only four of the categories — architecture and engineering, the physical sciences, computer and mathematical science (I assume a graduate degree is required for some of the physical and mathematical science job openings,) and health care — were the unemployed equal to or fewer than the listed job openings. There were, in sum, 1.09 million listed openings and only 582,700 unemployed people presumably available to fill them."“'Until the downturn, it was easy for experienced registered nurses to find employment right in their communities, in whatever positions they wanted,' Ms. Peterson said. 'Now it is a little more difficult because the number of job openings has fallen and we have more retired nurses, in need of income, coming back.”That does not hold for nurses who have a decade of experience caring for critically ill people, particularly in hospital recovery rooms, said Dr. Robert Pearl, chief executive and chairman of the Permanente Medical Group, a big employer of medical professionals. “There are probably more nurses recently trained than there are jobs for them,' he said, 'but for those with the highest level of skill and experience, there are always openings.' And at $100,000 in pay."