‘Tis the season of college graduation! If you still haven’t figured out what you want to do with your life, here are a few good options.

‘Tis the season of college graduation, and the interwebs are flooded with advice for new grads, soon-to-be grads and aspiring grads. But after the mortar boards go up and the champagne goes down, there’s one question on every new grad’s mind:

How the heck can I find a job that a) I won’t hate, b) will pay my bills and c) I have a chance of getting hired for?

One good tactic? Search out industries with high numbers of job openings. Here are 10 grad-friendly careers expected to have thousands of open positions by 2020:

1. Registered Nurse

If you want a healthcare career, you’re in luck. Registered nurse may grow the most of all careers by 2020.

Why all the hype? As baby boomers age, they need more healthcare. Plus, people are becoming more interested in preventative medicine—often the domain of RNs.

Job Openings (total between 2010-2020): 711,900

Education Needed: Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $65,000

2. Kindergarten, Elementary School or Middle School Teacher

Shaping young minds is a rewarding business. While teaching positions are opening up nationwide, landing a job in this competitive field depends on context. Job prospects should be best in rural or inner-city schools and in areas with growing populations, such as the south. Specializing in certain subjects—including math, chemistry and languages—can also give you an edge.

Job Openings: 281,500 (Kindergarten/Elementary), 108,300 (Middle School)

Education Needed: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $52,000

3. Accountant

The recent rocky financial times (not to mention corporate scandals) have increased the demand for accounting ninjas. In this field, work experience is key—most states require on-the-job time before an accountant can even apply to become a Certified Public Accountant. So an internship or entry-level job can be a smart move.

Job Openings: 190,700

Education Needed: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $62,000

4. Computer Support Specialists

If you’ve ever dealt with the blue screen of death, you know what it’s like to need extra help making your technology behave. That’s where computer support specialists come in. Especially strong job growth is forecast in the healthcare industry, which increasingly relies on computers for everything from compiling patient files to storing x-rays. Self-taught expertise or an associate’s degree can qualify you for this job, but the most competitive applicants earn a bachelor’s degree.

Job Openings: 110,000

Education Needed: Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $46,000

5. Market Research Analyst

Ever wonder how much teens spend on frappucinos? Or how much is too much to pay for a smartphone?

Market research analysts uncover answers for questions like these. Many college majors can prepare you for this career, including communications, statistics, social science, business and computer science. But no matter your background, you need strong statistics and data analysis skills.

Job Openings: 116,600

Education Needed: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $60,000

6. Computer Software Developer

Without software, your computer, phone and other gadgets would just be boxes of wires and circuit boards. While software developers are in-demand across the board, certain areas are booming in particular: mobile technology, healthcare-related software and information security. Take your pick.

Job Openings: 270,900

Education Needed: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $90,000

7. Construction Manager

Many baby boomer construction managers are headed into retirement soon—and that means more job openings for workforce newbies. Construction experience can give you a big edge in this field, but the most competitive candidates should also have a bachelor’s degree in construction science or civil engineering.

Job Openings: 86,600

Education Needed: Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $84,000

8. Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts are all about efficiency: which computer systems make the most sense for any particular organization? A bachelor’s degree in computer science is a good choice to prepare for this field. However, having a liberal arts degree doesn’t rule you out for this career path (hear that, English majors?). It all comes down to your technical expertise.

Job Openings: 120,400

Education Needed: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $78,000

9. Dental Hygienist

As researchers learn more about how oral health impacts overall health (spoiler alert: flossing can save your life), demand for dental hygienists is on the rise. Plus, more hygienists are needed to manage new technology and diagnostics, like saliva tests that can spot early signs of cancer. And with the average salary clocking in at nearly $70,000, the investment in your associate’s degree can pay off big time.

Job Openings: 68,500

Education Needed: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $68,000

10. Management Consultant

Just as athletes turn to a coach when they want to run faster, jump higher or kick harder, companies turn to a management analyst when they need help reaching their goals. Job growth is particularly strong in small consulting companies that have a specialty, like green business. More good news? Management consultants can major in a wide range of topics, including engineering, marketing, economics, accounting and computer science. Get ready to turn companies into lean, mean business machines.

Job Openings: 157,200

Education Needed: Bachelor’s Degree

Average Salary: $78,000

Job opening, education and salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a site that helps people discover strong careers and connect with the right education to achieve their goals. Follow her on Twitter at @InsideJobs!


  1. AFA Julie

    As a recruiter at American Fidelity, I can attest to the IT and market research jobs being hard to fill. We regularly add IT positions there usually aren’t enough candidates to fill them quickly. We don’t hire as often in market research, but when we do, again there aren’t enough candidates. Both of those are great fields to go into that should continue seeing growth.

  2. Bill

    Why is this good advice for college grads? More like good advice for high school grads trying to figure out what program to take in college. I just graduated with a degree that will never get me an IT or nursing job. Woo.

  3. Devin

    Bill – actually, I went to college and grad school for English and Composition, but got hired to an IT position (well, Technical Writing). Their reasoning was that it’s much easier to teach a good writer how to code or navigate code than it is to teach a coder to write well. So, at least with technology, there is flexibility! Nursing… not so much, haha.

  4. Adrian

    Why is SALES not in here? Nowhere else can fresh graduates full of pepper and fire make upwards of six figures in their first year of employment.

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