Particularly during the high school years, your teachers, guidance counselors, parents, relatives, neighbors, friends, and everyone else are all asking where you’re heading job-wise. By the time college becomes that shiny spot on the horizon, you may know what you want to do, but you might not know what degree program will get you there.
Four popular careers—doctor, nurse, engineer, and lawyer—have seemingly straightforward routes to the job market. However—even with these—the waters can get muddy. These particular careers were carefully selected because our admissions team often fields questions from high school students about what the “best major” is to pursue a job in these areas. Even careers that seem straightforward like “doctor” have more options than you may think.
Luckily, that’s nothing a little research can’t fix. Here’s a list of some of the most popular careers we get asked about—and how you can plan to get there.
If your aim is to become a doctor once you’re done with school, you might fall into a common misconception that you need to major in a pre-med or biology program. That’s the logical assumption, right?
However, the reality is that—in order to become a doctor—you need to go to medical school after your undergraduate work is complete. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you start—what your undergraduate degree is in is up to you.
On that note, it would be valuable to major in a pre-med or biology program to create a solid foundation for your future career in medicine. At the same time, a mathematics or liberal arts major won’t hurt your chances of being accepted into medical school—it might even help your case.
If you’re strong mathematically, statistics and calculus are common prerequisites for medical school and the skills you take away with a math degree help prepare you for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Liberal arts programs produce well-rounded and creative individuals with high interpersonal skills—qualities that medical colleges look for in applicants.
To learn more, check out our blog post 4 Majors for Aspiring Med Students.
As far as majors go, there’s less “wiggle room” in the nursing career path—the vast majority of nursing jobs require a bachelor’s degree in (you guessed it) nursing. The good part of this is that you’re most likely getting your college education and simultaneously training for the job you want (learn more about how IPFW’s RN program provides nursing students with clinical training and tech job opportunities while they’re in school).
More often than not, programs are designed with marketability in mind—that is to say you’re well-prepared to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for your nursing license by the time you’re ready to graduate. IPFW has a perfect (100%) record of placement for nursing graduates.
If a future career in engineering appeals to you, your major is going to depend on what kind of engineer you’d like to be. At IPFW, we offer four of the most popular engineering majors: civil, mechanical, electrical, and computer.
Civil engineering is focused on the design, construction, and maintenance of physical and naturally built environments—including roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. Mechanical engineering is the design, construction, and use of machines. Electrical engineers deal with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. Computer engineering integrates elements of electrical engineering and computer science to develop hard- and software. For more information about the different types of engineering and which one may be the best fit for you, check out our blog post What Type of Engineering Should I Study? A Comparison.
To get the job you want in the engineering field, you’ll be narrowing down your major to a specific type of engineering—but you’ll definitely be in an engineering program. Getting a minor in mathematics or business to round out your résumé is also a possibility.
Surprisingly, some legal professionals argue against going with a pre-law degree path if you’re intending to be a lawyer. According to a 2011 Law School Admission Council (LSAC) study, only 61 percent of pre-law students gained law school admission—whereas majors like philosophy and journalism had acceptance rates over 75 percent.
Similar to the wide range of possibilities that come with your undergraduate degree if you want to become a doctor, your options are open if your path curves toward a career as a lawyer—from a major in the arts and the humanities to sports to science, you have the ability to follow your interests. If you really want a factor to narrow down your options, consider what types of clients you’d like to represent—for example, opting for a program focused on sports may pave the way for you to represent professional athletes.
To learn more, check out 6 Majors for Aspiring Law Students.