Top 10 Degrees for Emerging Industries

Emerging industries are based on an innovative product, idea, or service that is in its early stages of development. Economists and finance wizards track emerging industries because they are good indicators of where the marketplace is headed in the near future. There are currently a number of emerging industries in the US that are gaining steam, as the recent economic downturn has helped us identify businesses that are poised to fill the gap for jobs that used to be the cornerstones of global commerce. Whether in engineering, science, healthcare, or education – now is an exciting time to be picking a college major and future career track. Here are the top ten degrees for emerging industries.

1. Biotechnology

When it comes to healthcare, the future is being created as we speak. Biotechnology has moved out of the research lab and into the marketplace. As the products and services developed by biotechnologists begin to prove valuable, the industry will only continue to grow. The field at this point is so open that a remarkable variety of skills will fit. Do not think that this brand of science is limited to the traditional engineering-minded student.

How to get on board:

Biotechnology is becoming an increasingly popular degree program for students that are interested in combining interests in biology, engineering, and computer science. Many universities are opening degree programs in this field to fill demand for this very technical career track.

2. Environmental Engineering

Our economy is turning toward new ideas about how we can conserve and create energy. New sources of fuel will prove to create markets that previously didn’t exist. Wind energy, solar panels, biofuels, safer atomic fission – these are all ideas that once seemed a bit science fiction, but they are starting to become more attractive alternatives to current options. Environmental engineering is also becoming a key to creating more effective living and working spaces.


How to get on board:

Degrees in Environmental Engineering will provide students opportunity to focus on a wide array of potential career skills. It is smart to look at schools that may specialize in a field that interests you, such as alternative energy sources, atomic engineering, or sustainable architecture.

3. Health Information Technology

Health Information Technology is the IT side of the recent boom in Biotechnology. We have become better at healthcare in recent years in part because we are developing systems that help doctors diagnose and assess their patients more effectively. With advances in computer science, we are also able to build databases that are better at predicting what type of healthcare issues are important for different locations and age groups.

How to get on board:

Health IT management programs can be found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. They are certainly geared toward someone interested in IT, but these programs can also train you to support scientists that need help tracking data, constructing healthcare models, and a variety of tasks pretty fundamental to the practice of medicine.

4. Aerospace Engineering

One engineering specialty that is trending in demand involves supporting advances in the transportation industry. As air travel and international commerce grow in steam, engineers that can create and maintain aircraft will be an important part of future economic growth.

How to get on board:

An Aerospace Engineering degree program is the best way to get your foot into the door of this industry. A good program will provide internships and opportunities to begin claiming your spot in the job market.

5. Pharmaceutical Sciences

Big Pharma has never failed to post big annual returns, but that only means that drug manufacturing will continue to prove itself as constantly emerging industry. The amount of work it takes to take a drug from an experiment to the marketplace is staggering, and this is why effective researchers will always be in high demand.

How to get on board:

A Pharmaceutical Sciences degree is now where the undergrad begins working toward a research position in the drug manufacturing business. And hey, if you find out that you are not a fan of managing clinical research, there is always pharmaceutical sales to fall back on.

6. Physician’s Assistant

Doctors are becoming increasingly reliant on Physician’s Assistants to keep up with growing demands for care. A Physician’s Assistant is qualified to do a number of things that MD’s used to do themselves, such as performing tests and procedures, talking with patients, and even prescribing medication. This is an excellent option for someone not interested in committing to a full MD program, but still wants to be a part of the action.

How to get on board:

There are Physician’s Assistant programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. These programs can get you into the hospital or doctor’s office in a matter of years.

7. Financial Engineering

The financial engineer, sometimes called a “quant,” is becoming a key part of the finance world. Armed with a background in computer science, finance, and economics, a financial engineer is skilled at assessing market risks and predicting future sources of revenue.

How to get on board:

Financial Engineering degrees at the undergraduate level are still very new and fairly untested. It is best to start out in economics, statistics, or computer science, and work your way toward this career with a Masters in Financial Engineering (MFE).

8. Geophysics

The boom in environmental engineering is going to require people skilled in understanding how the earth produces natural resources. Geophysics is going to continue to remain part of the backbone of our economy, even if our energy plan shifts toward alternative fuels.

How to get on board:

An education in geophysics can begin at the undergraduate level. It is a very attractive option for people who are interested in science, but also want to get their hands dirty in the field.

9. Information Technology Security

Any advance in computer science technology will be met with an equal challenge in creating better ways to secure and maintain data. IT Security degrees enjoy one of the highest post-graduation salary rates in the US, and there is no reason to think this will change in the near future.

How to get on board:

You best option is to head straight for an Information Technology Security degree program rather than generalizing somewhere in a Computer Science department.

10. Distance Education

The future of education is online. As the typical adult learner begins to juggle life, work, and school by enrolling in online degree programs, colleges and universities are looking for people with the ability to navigate IT, education, and management issues all at once. Traditional higher education administration jobs are going to start looking much different in the near future.

How to get on board:

Currently, your best bet at the undergraduate level is to get a degree in Curriculum and Instruction or Adult Education. At the graduate level, options for degrees in Higher Ed Administration are an excellent way to market yourself for these jobs.

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