Q. Which college courses would you take right now in order to get a high paying job in when you graduate?
A. Education has been shown to increase earning power, whether you are in college or on the job. But there will be a broad range of high paying jobs and your skills and interests, in addition to your education, will play a role in your ability to be successful.
Successful careers and high paying jobs are achieved through a combination of education, experiences, ambition, skill, and personal attributes, not just one course.
If your question about courses refers to which course of study, or major should you pursue, consider utilizing The Occupational Outlook Handbook. The OOH (www.bls.gov/oco) is the government's source of career guidance providing information on hundreds of occupations including the responsibilities of the role. You can browse occupations by categories including highest paying, projected fastest growing, and projected most new jobs. The occupation finder can help you narrow your search and add criteria like entry level education and on the job training, including apprenticeships.
The OOH shows that fields like civil engineering, computer systems, IT security analyst, and biochemists lead the way in projected job growth and compensation, while other fields show a decline or no growth, and limited earning capacity. Taking courses in any of these fields can help you determine if you have interest, aptitude and the desire to continue with additional coursework in the field.
Most college counselors will encourage you to broaden your education by taking coursework out of your major. Courses that are considered valuable by most employers include pubic speaking, and writing. Many careers have been derailed by a lack of skills in these two areas. Courses which develop analytic and quantitative skills, whether in business, math, science, or statistics, are highly valued. Develop skills to read the financial pages of your company, and the economics of the global marketplace. You will be at a disadvantage if you do not develop computer proficiency as demonstrated by everyday use. Courses exposing you to information technology and technology management can be valuable, as can a psychology course showcasing behavioral styles, or a general understanding of motivation of self and others. Make sure your course work includes project based work so you develop team and leadership skills. Etiquette courses may no longer be offered, but find a way to gain this knowledge.
All of these can be enhanced greatly by related work experience. School activities, internships, and summer jobs showcase how education and experience can make you a valuable part of any organization.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.