Best Bachelor’s Degrees

Best Bachelor’s Degrees

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, those with a bachelor’s degree enjoy median annual salaries of $51,554 (as cited in Anas, 2006). Unfortunately, with a weakened economy, even bachelor’s degree holders can struggle to find lucrative work. Therefore, it is important to choose a college degree that will prepare you for a successful career. Read on to learn about bachelor’s degrees that have the potential to lead to high-paying, in-demand jobs, even in a recession.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing

Despite the recession, the field of nursing is expected to continue to grow. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of nursing is expected to expand by 23.5 percent through the next decade, with an estimated 233,499 yearly job openings for nurses.

Careers in Nursing: According to the Department of Labor, nurses enjoy median annual earnings of $60,010. They also engage in meaningful work, cooperating with physicians and other medical professionals to treat patients in healthcare settings. They may be required to maintain patients’ medical records and monitor patient symptoms and vital signs, such as temperature and blood pressure. Nurses collaborate with physicians to plan patient treatment, and they often counsel patients regarding disease prevention.

With considerable job growth and above-average earnings expected for nurses, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is valuable, even in a dubious economy.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science

Also a growing field, computer science provides an opportunity for success, despite the recession. A bachelor’s degree in computer science prepares students to work in the field of computer software engineering, which is expected to grow by 28.2 percent in the next ten years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 33,139 job openings are expected in the field each year, and computer software engineers boast median annual earnings of $89,070, as indicated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Computer software engineers are often skilled in mathematics and science. They design and test software for usability, in addition to conducting research regarding new software. Computer software engineers are also often responsible for fixing malfunctioning software and installing new software systems. They may also assist customers with the running of software.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology/Social Work

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in either psychology or social work can also prepare students for successful careers.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, one can become employed as a substance abuse counselor and earn $35,580 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The department of Labor has also reported that substance abuse counseling is expected to grow by 34.3 percent during the next decade, with 20,821 yearly job openings in the field.

According to Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin, authors of the 2009 Publican 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality, substance abuse counselors “counsel and advise individuals with alcohol; tobacco; drug; or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders” in addition to working with the families of addicts and implementing programs aimed at prevention (p.332). Substance abuse counselors play a leading role in the treatment of addictions.

Similar to substance abuse counseling, the field of social service management is also growing, with the U.S Department of Labor estimating that 23,788 jobs will be available in the field each year. The median yearly salary is $54,530, according to the Department of Labor. To obtain a position in the field, one is typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in human services, social work, or a related field, as well as relevant job experience.

Social services managers enjoy fulfilling work, setting goals and creating policies for social service programs and organizations. They oversee the budget and activities of their agencies, often supervising social workers and other professionals.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting

Accounting is a growing field within the area of business. The Department of Labor expects 134,463 jobs to become available in the field each year, with accountants earning median yearly salaries of $57,060.

Accountants prepare and maintain financial reports for businesses, ensuring that they are accurate. These reports include information regarding profits, loss, assets, and liabilities. Accountants may also be responsible for preparing and filing tax information for businesses.

Accounting, in addition to social service management, substance abuse counseling, computer software engineering, and nursing, is a growing field, even in a state of economic recession. By choosing the proper college degree, students can become employed in one of these fields and earn a comfortable living.

Careers for Bachelors Degrees in Psychology

Careers for Bachelors Degrees in Psychology

What to Do With a Psychology Degree

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, colleges and higher education institutions awarded 94,271 bachelor’s degrees in psychology during the 2008-2009 school year, rendering it a rather ubiquitous field of study. Students are obviously interested in pursuing careers in psychology, but before deciding to do so, it is important that they be aware of potential career paths available to those who earn bachelor’s degrees in psychology. The following options are realistic for psychology graduates.

Lower-Paying Options in the Field

Psychology degrees teach students to understand human behaviors and motivations, in addition to providing them with the knowledge to identify psychological disorders and other mental health issues. Though these skills are important in modern society, there are very few entry-level positions in which they are directly involved. Unfortunately, most jobs that make use of psychology degrees are relatively low-paying, and bachelor’s degree holders may be overqualified for such positions.

If not concerned about earning high salaries, psychology students may be satisfied in a number of jobs available to those with bachelor’s degrees. They may, for example work as teaching assistants at preschools or after school programs. A psychology degree is beneficial in such jobs, as most psychology graduates have taken courses in childhood development and behavioral psychology. Those interested in pursuing teaching assistant positions can expect to earn $22,200 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Psychology graduates with bachelor’s degrees may also enjoy working as assistants/caregivers at social services agencies or residential treatment centers, where their education will be useful when working with individuals who have mental health issues or developmental disabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries in this field average $27,280 a year.

If not interested in working in working as teaching assistants or caregivers, psychology graduates may pursue employment as receptionists at mental health clinics, counseling centers, or social service agencies. Median earnings for receptionists are $11.80 an hour, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Pursuing More Lucrative Alternatives

Students may be discouraged by low-paying jobs in the field of psychology, but they can find higher-paying opportunities if they are willing to extend their job searches to other areas. Psychology degrees teach students to effectively work with and communicate with diverse groups of people; therefore, they provide the skills necessary to be successful in management and sales positions.

Psychology degrees are useful in sales positions, as they require employees to effectively communicate with and influence customers while providing them with quality service. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed that sales representatives can expect to earn $70,200 a year, on average.

Because psychology graduates are often skilled in working with people, they may also be interested in working as mangers of restaurants or retail stores. Salaries in this field average $46,320, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If careers in management and sales do not appeal to students, they may find success elsewhere. A psychology education is helpful in any position that requires working with people; jobs in human resources, marketing, and communication may be viable options.

Obtaining Advanced Degrees

If low-paying jobs and alternative options do not satisfy psychology students, obtaining an advanced degree is perhaps the best decision. Not only do master’s and doctoral degrees present graduates with the opportunity to earn more money; they also allow them to pursue careers more directly related to psychology.

Those who want to work as clinical or counseling psychologists must obtain doctoral degrees in psychology. After completing their graduate education, psychologists enjoy median annual salaries of $64,140. If graduates are uninterested in counseling, they can also find employment in research and teaching positions at colleges and universities.

If students want to spend less time in graduate school, they may also be interested in pursuing a master’s degree in social work, which will prepare them to work in counseling, case management, and crisis response positions in mental health clinics, social service agencies, hospitals, and non-profit organizations. Estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that social workers can expect to earn $46,220.

While graduate degrees offer students the option to earn more money and pursue their specific interests, they are not the only path available to those interested in psychology. Those with bachelor’s degrees in psychology may be satisfied working with people in sales and managerial positions, or, if they’re open to earning lower wages, they may find success working in entry-level positions more closely related to their degrees.

Will Your Good Looks Help You Advance?

Will Your Good Looks Help You Advance?

There is a long-standing belief that better-looking employees get better treatment in most work environments, from the hiring process to employee evaluations and promotions. This article from author K. Ong examines some of the research into this subject.


Beating the Stereotype That Links Physical
Attractiveness to Corporate Success

The strong dynamics between an employee’s physical attractiveness and his success in the workplace is observable in many companies.

There’s a lot of research confirming this widespread social phenomenon. From the authoritative 1970 article in Psychonomic Science entitled “Role of physical attractiveness in impression formation” to the compelling Journal of Educational Psychology article, “Effects of children’s physical attractiveness on teachers’ evaluations”—the high premium placed on physical beauty lives and breathes not just in the workplace but in many social settings. It is seen in different cultures, as well.

For all job types, male attractiveness works its magic to a tee. For neutral and female-oriented jobs, female employees have an edge based solely on their looks.

Here are three remarkable examples culled from various journal articles that support the stereotype of physical attractiveness as a powerful career advantage:

  1. A large majority of voters vote for politicians based on the candidate’s looks alone.
  2. In a simulated trial, the judgment of a jury can be influenced by the physical attractiveness of the trial participants.
  3. Even if an applicant is being evaluated for a position that does not include exposure to other people, like a desk job that confines an employee to work alone inside a room, physical attractiveness still factors heavily in hiring decisions.

What’s interesting is that the rampant beauty-bias occurs unconsciously for some who are guilty of prejudging based on looks.

Is there any hope for people who do not meet society’s standards of beauty? Is there any way for an average-looking person to stay motivated in a workplace where image is everything?

Well, there is a way--sort of.

In most cases, societal standards of beauty can spell corporate success for an attractive person. Being unattractive also has its advantages in the workplace.

In Professor Comila Shahai-Dennin’s “Physical Attractiveness Bias in Hiring: What Is Beautiful Is Good,” she writes that when an attractive and an unattractive employee are both evaluated for their job performances, the unattractive employee gets sympathy for his failings. He is seen as a victim of circumstance. The attractive employee is then viewed as someone who does not put on too much effort—which explains the failings—and who mainly relies on his looks to succeed. This is true for all employee evaluations—regardless of the employee’s gender.

So, come review time, if you are not attractive-looking, then you are given more leniency for your shortcomings compared to your physically attractive counterpart.

When employees need to be disciplined for misbehavior, the physically attractive employee is viewed more harshly than the less attractive one. A negative sense of entitlement is almost always heaped on the more physically attractive employee.

Legal recourse for an employee being hired, terminated, and penalized based on looks can be a murky one. This is proven by the 2003 lawsuit involving the upscale retailer Abercrombie & Fitch; the role of physical attractiveness as a factor in employer decisions is difficult to pinpoint when placed in the legal context.

The social problem that makes beauty a marker of corporate success exacerbates image issues for both men and women alike. But it is a reality. Almost everyone is aware of it. And being aware of the existence of beauty-bias is the first step towards addressing it.

One thing is for certain: it will not hurt for an average-looking employee to properly groom himself, to dress smartly, and to act professionally in the workplace.


What do you think? Have you witnessed or experienced any obvious bias (negative or positive) based upon someone's looks in the workplace or academic setting? Please leave your comments below.