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May 20, 2019, 1:25 p.m. EDT

10 versatile college majors that eliminate the need to decide early on a career path

Your major doesn’t have to dictate your career trajectory

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By Catey Hill, MarketWatch


Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

If you’re a college student who’s not decided on a future career, this is major.

Many college students aren’t sure what they want to major in: Indeed, nearly one in three first-time college students switch their major at least once within three years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Often, they’re unclear on what they want to major in because they’re unclear on what they want to do for work after graduation, as the popular Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -0.39% search of “what should I do for my career” — complete with myriad career quizzes and advice guides — quickly shows. And no wonder they’re confused: Fewer than one in five college grads said their career-services office was very helpful to them.

‘What’s surprising and important to note is that your major no longer dictates your career trajectory and we are seeing that liberal arts majors like psychology, sociology and economics propel grads to take on roles ranging from behavioral therapist to marketing specialists.’

Blair Decembrele, LinkedIn

But while, in most cases, you will need to pick a major in college, you won’t have to pick your career then — so it’s important to remember this: “Don’t be pigeonholed by your major; it doesn’t dictate your career trajectory,” observes a LinkedIn report out this month.

The career networking site — which looked at nearly 1 million people in the U.S. who indicated they’d graduated between April 2017 and April 2018 — unveiled its list of the 10 most versatile college majors, which can help you land a variety of jobs:

10 most versatile majors:
1. Business administration and management
2. Marketing
3. Psychology
4. Economics
5. Finance
6. Political science and government
7. Communication
8. Computer science
9. Information technology
10. Sociology
Source: LinkedIn

“What’s surprising and important to note is that your major no longer dictates your career trajectory and we are seeing that liberal arts majors like psychology, sociology and economics propel grads to take on roles ranging from behavioral therapist to marketing specialists,” says LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele.

While that’s always been true to some degree, any increased prevalence of following career paths unrelated to undergraduate course work could be testament to a robust job market. After all, many employers are struggling to find talent — and are willing to train people with promise — as the unemployment rate hovers around 3.6% as of April, the lowest in about 50 years. And some are even hiring people without college degrees for jobs that once would have required one.

Of course, it’s important to point out that majoring in one of these things doesn’t always lead to a well-paying job. Psychology majors, for example, have average salaries of less than $50,000 — at all age and career levels . Nor do these majors always lead to a job, period: Psychology majors have a higher-than-average unemployment rate among college grads. And if you want to land a job, no matter your major, you’ll want to start early with internships or other relevant career opportunities.

Read on: How the SAT’s ‘adversity score’ is both necessary and an admission of failure

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Catey Hill is MarketWatch's senior content strategist. She writes about how to upgrade your life, and helps readers find great deals on products and services. Follow her on Twitter @CateyHill.

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