fields of study

#3: 3 blossoming fields of study with massive potential

For institutions eager to help their students not only leap into the job market, but enter a future-proof career, these fields of study are wise investments.

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on May 9th of this year, was our #3 most popular story of the year. The countdown continues tomorrow with #2, so be sure to check back!]

As students become more concerned with leveraging their postsecondary education for entry into the job market, colleges and universities must look beyond traditional fields of study to ones that directly lead to future-ready careers.

Future-ready, or future-proof, careers refer to careers that not only have a significant number of current job openings, but whose openings are expected to increase in the future. These careers also offer competitive salaries, and are available in multiple markets (i.e. business, education, healthcare, etc.).

Using data from job-hunting site Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., as well as recent research from the education sector, eCampus News lists three burgeoning fields of study that any campus would do well to incorporate into their curricula.

1.Data Science/Data Administration

Data Science is an interdisciplinary field about processes and systems to extract knowledge or insights from data in various forms, either structured or unstructured, which is a continuation of some of the data analysis fields such as statistics, data mining, and predictive analytics, similar to Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD).

Data administration, or data resource management, is an organizational function working in the areas of information systems and computer science that plans, organizes, describes and controls data resources.

According to Glassdoor, data scientists are on-demand currently, and will continue to be needed for years to come. Currently, the average base salary of a data scientist is $105,395, with the number of current job openings exceeding 3,400. A database administrator’s average base salary is currently $97, 258, with the number of job openings over 9,000.

Yet, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) “Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System Completions Survey and NSF/NCSES: Survey of Earned Doctorates,” while the number of undergrads in statistics—which encompasses data science—increased by more than 300 percent since the 1990s, the growth may not be enough to satisfy the high demand needed in the market.

The NCES report shows that bachelor’s degrees in statistics grew 17 percent from 2013 to 2014, marking 15 consecutive years the number of undergrads in statistics has risen. However, the American Statistical Association (ASA), which analyzed the NCES data, says that this number will need to increase drastically to satisfy the high demand for technology-based fields like data science and database management—which could spell trouble not only for businesses, but for colleges and universities anxious to effectively analyze massive amounts of big data.

Recently, MIT Sloan School of Management announced the launch of a new specialized Master of Business Analytics (M.B.An.) program designed to prepare students for careers in business analytics. And Stanford has been actively advocating for more data-related curricula throughout higher education.

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Applied Mathematics also developed a new statistics minor that includes several new classes in data science, plus several existing courses were revamped to better serve those career fields looking for data scientists.

The business sector has also launched programs to try and attract student to data fields of study.

(Next page: IT management and network administration fields of study)

2.IT Management/Network Administration

IT management is the discipline whereby all of the information technology resources of a firm or institution are managed in accordance with its needs and priorities. Network administration—sometimes called systems administration—means keeping an organization’s computer network up-to-date and running smoothly. Any company or institution that uses multiple computers or software platforms needs a network admin to coordinate the different systems.

According to Glassdoor, the current average base salary for an IT manager is $115, 725, with over 1,400 job openings. And according to CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists, the current gap between monthly job postings and hires is over 21, 758. Job growth between 2010 and 2015 increased by 42, 942 openings, and median hourly earnings is $61.37.

CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists note that for network admin, the current gap between monthly job postings and hires is over 51,000. Job growth between 2010 and 2015 was 36,640 openings, and the median hourly earnings are $36.44.

However, according to CompTIA’s Managing the Multigenerational Workforce study—based on over 1,000 teens and young adults aged 13-24—Gen Z, which is, by far, the generation that relies most heavily on technology, has almost no interest in choosing IT as a career.

According to the Gen Z students surveyed, 21 percent of 13-17 year-olds say they are not interested in an IT career, a number that jumps to 26 percent at 18-24 years-old. And while 19 percent of 18-24 year-olds are interested in an IT career, the report stresses that this is not a high enough percentage.

“This is largely a result of the information students receive about their careers,” emphasizes the report. “Among 18-24 year-olds who said they were not interested in an IT career, the primary reason for the lack of interest was not having enough information about the field.”

Another potential roadblock to more filling more IT positions could be recent data that exposes Millennials shocking lack of technology-based problem-solving skills. According to the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)—which released the first-ever global data on how the U.S. population aged 16 to 65 compared to other countries in terms of skills in literacy and reading, numeracy, and problem-solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE)–U.S. Millennials ranked last, along with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland in PS-TRE, and the youngest segment of the U.S. millennial cohort (16- to 24-year-olds), who could be in the labor force for the next 50 years, ranked among the bottom countries in PS-TRE.

Already, some institutions are making efforts to boost student interest and skills in IT. For example, Ohio State University (OSU) began an innovative internship arrangement with Hyland Software where students have a chance to intern at the company then apply the skills learned there in jobs within the university’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). At Georgia Southern University, the campus bookstore partnered with a mobile repair company to teach students about the technology behind their devices, as well as how to perform simple repair services. Other examples of data science IT-based curricula in higher ed can be found here and here.

(Next page: Fields of study in cybersecurity)

3.Cybersecurity Management/Security Engineering

A cybersecurity manager is in charge of protecting information systems from theft or damage to the hardware, the software, and to the information on them, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.

Security engineering is a specialized field of engineering that focuses on the security aspects in the design of systems that need to be able to deal robustly with possible sources of disruption, ranging from natural disasters to malicious acts.

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary of a security engineer is $102,749, with current job openings over 2,000. CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists report the gap between monthly job postings and hires for security managers/analysts to be over 27,512, with a job growth between 2010 and 2015 of over 15,000 openings; and median hourly earnings at $42.74.

Already, Silicon Valley giants are creating a talent pipeline from colleges and universities, and from privately-funded academic programs, for students skilled in cybersecurity.

Higher education institutions are also forging partnerships to meet the needs of the cybersecurity industry and produce highly-skilled professionals to fill those industry gaps. One example is Champlain College in Vermont that offers master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and industry certificates in computer forensics and digital investigation, along with cybersecurity. The college was recently honored as the 2015 winner of the Professional Award for Best Cybersecurity Higher Education Program by SC Magazine, an IT security professional publication.

A recent gift from Intel will also allow the Rochester Institute of Technology faculty to transform computing security education by developing new cybersecurity curriculum on strategic thinking and tactics. The $25,000 gift will fund new servers to host a computing infrastructure in which students are able to experiment and perform labs involving strategic thinking and tactics in cybersecurity attack and defense. Using the infrastructure, faculty will develop at least two course modules that will be used in classes at RIT and shared with the broader security education community.

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