3 academic programs in high demand

Some fields in STEM have more job openings than employees to fill them

Meris Stansbury of eCampus News highlights three fields of study with promising career prospects for students entering the job market.

Stansbury used data from Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Economic Modeling Specialists, and recent education sector research to compare the value of academic programs for both students and colleges.

1. Data science/Data administration

Data science is an interdisciplinary field incorporating aspects of statistics, data mining, and predictive analytics. Data administration, or data resource management, spans the fields of information systems in managing data resources.

According to Glassdoor, data scientists earn an average base salary of $105,395 and there are currently more than 3,400 job openings. A similar position, the database administrator, earns an average base salary of $97,258 and the number of job openings currently exceeds 9,000.

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These positions are in high demand and the number of undergraduate students studying statistics has been steadily increasing, according to Stansbury. However, many more students must go into statistics to meet job market demand.

Data science is becoming a popular major, but market demand is so high that colleges still aren't producing enough graduates to fill employer needs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and the American Statistical Association. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Colorado Boulder, and Stanford University have all invested more in data-related academic programs.

2. IT Management/Network administration

Information technology (IT) managers govern an organization's IT resources according to its strategic goals. Similarly, network administrators and systems administrators keep organizations' computer networks current and functional.

The average base salary for an IT manager is $115,725, and the field expanded by more than 42,000 positions between 2010 and 2015. There's a huge gap between the number of jobs posted each month and the number of people hired. CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists found over 21,000 more postings than hires each month on average.

However, few teenagers and young adults express interest in IT as a career, according to a report from CompTIA. The main reason is that they lack enough information about the field, researchers discovered.

Some institutions are helping bridge that knowledge gap. Ohio State University (OSU) has partnered with Hyland Software to provide students with internships at the company so that they can take the skills they have learned to work for OSU's Office of the Chief Information Officer. Georgia Southern University has partnered with a mobile repair company to teach students about their devices.

3. Cybersecurity management/Security engineering

Cybersecurity managers protect information systems from theft, damage, and disruption. Security engineers design defenses that protect information systems from potential threats such as hacking or natural disasters.

Security engineers earn an average base salary of $102,749, and the field expanded by more than 15,000 positions between 2010 and 2015. Like demand for IT managers, demand for cybersecurity professionals far exceeds the supply. According to CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists, the gap between monthly job postings and hires for security managers/analysts exceeds 27,000. 

Champlain College offers degrees and industry certificates in computer forensics, digital investigation, and cybersecurity. Intel recently awarded the Rochester Institute of Technology a $25,000 gift to fund initiatives in strategic thinking and cybersecurity (Stansbury, eCampus News, 5/9). 


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