The 5 Most Successful College Majors and Why Your Company Should Hire Them

Business.com / Hiring / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Recruiting recent college grads? These majors make for the most successful graduates, given their applied skills learned at university.

It’s a better time to graduate from college now than it has been in years.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 65 percent of employers plan to hire recent college graduates this year.

This is the highest outlook since 2007.

One third will offer higher pay than last year, and 1 in 4 will pay $50,000 or more.

So which majors are particularly in demand?

Related Article: Diploma Depression: The Biggest Issues College Graduates Are Facing

According to the survey, 38 percent of employers naming business as the most sought-after major. Other in-demand majors include computer and information sciences, engineering, health professions and communications technologies.

But these aren’t the only fields of study making waves in the business world. Here are five other majors your company should start considering when it’s time for a fresh new hire. 

Humanities

Those majoring in the humanities—think languages, literature, history and philosophy—tend to develop strong people skills, good communications skills and crucial critical thinking skills, all things that employers in the business world can put to good use. Those graduating in the humanities relate well to clients and negotiate with vendors.

Diane K. Danielson, the Chief Operating Officer at Sperry Van Ness International Corporation has strong praise for new hires plucked from this often overlooked department. “Not only have [humanities majors] studied people, they have generally learned to write, speak and communicate,” she writes in an email to Business.com. “Plus, most humanities courses require critical thinking skills and that, in and of itself, is something employers like us seek out.

Danielson isn’t the only business leader impressed by graduates in the humanities. More and more hiring managers are catching on to the potential held by these talented students.

Pete Abilla, founder and CEO of Findtutorsnearme.com, worked for some of the biggest brands over the course of his career at Amazon and eBay and hired upwards of 275 people. “I've been very pleasantly surprised by majors in the humanities and social sciences,” he says. “I've found that employees with those backgrounds are well-rounded, not narrow in their thinking, and they are quick learners.”

Statistics

Some jobs require grads with a passion for numbers. When this is the case, statistics majors are a good choice, along with math or business grads. According to a report done by Kiplinger, the protected ten-year job growth for statisticians is over 24%.

“When it comes to the marketing field, some majors are much better than others for certain roles,” says John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility and a digital marketing teacher at the University of California San Diego.

“On the paid media or pay per click management side, we look for statistics majors, math majors and business majors,” Lincoln says. “You have to love numbers to do well in this field and generally these majors do the best.” 

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Social Sciences

Bob LaBombard, CEO of GradStaff, a national college recruiting firm with offices in nine U.S. cities. The company places grads from all majors in entry-level professional positions. A few of the most frequently placed majors include psychology and political science.

“Conflicting advice from career counselors, parents and peers leads many students to choose a major solely based on future employability rather than individual interest,” says LaBombard. “What they don't know is that grads with any major - particularly those with a liberal arts education - are well positioned for success in the workplace.”

Students with a strong foundation in the social sciences have taken the time to learn what drives individuals and groups, which is powerful knowledge for any business looking for innovative sales strategies or better organizational management.

Students themselves, according to LaBombard, need to take advantage of opportunities to learn and grow regardless of major.

 “The key is to never stop exploring,” he says. “Immerse yourself in every experience that interests you, and develop skills that can be applied to any career. Your major is largely immaterial, so make it something that energizes you, be selfish in your education, and pour your passion into every opportunity that presents itself. The students who do this, regardless of what they study, will be the most career-ready.”

Employers would do well to hire for curiosity and energy, as these are the traits that can’t be trained into new hires.

Economics

Economics majors are poised to benefit from growth in their field due to the explosion in Big Data. According to Kiplinger, economics majors are a good fit for employers specializing in consulting services, scientific research and finance.

An economics major can be hired to be a financial manager, purchasing agent or data analyst.

Communication Arts

One of the biggest challenges for any business is how to develop an attractive and consistent brand voice—which is why Communication Arts majors are becoming particularly sought-after. Having a marketing campaign go viral is no longer a happy accident that companies hope to achieve. It’s a planned event that the right talent sets into motion regularly.

Adam Johnson is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist at QuoteWizard in Seattle, an insurance quote comparison service and lead generation partner for insurance agents.

“Content marketing is a new business buzz word that companies are adopting because it drives organic business thru search and social marketing,” he explains. “Our SEO and social team is comprised of communication arts majors who are skilled at publishing content that gains social shares and ranks high on search engines.”

Companies are looking for new hires who already understand how to attract eyeballs online—and do so consistently.

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“Communication arts majors are preferred candidates for content marketing roles,” says Johnson. “The writing and outreach skills of these students are desired in business roles that build brand awareness and attract buyers organically. Ideal candidates are those who have built a significant following with their blog or social page. They understand how to produce quality content and build an audience.”

Regardless which major your applicants pursue, the best candidates are curious, engaged and ready to keep learning. 

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