Sensible Degrees to Earn in California

  • Bachelor's Degree in Finance
  • MBA With a Specialization in Business Management
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering

If you're considering colleges in California and researching the degree programs they make available, perhaps you're curious about what California's employment outlook will be like in the years following your graduation. Which industries are the most important ones in California's economy? Which occupations are poised to offer California's job seekers the best possible career opportunities? Which academic degrees and job skills are in demand among California's most prominent employers? Let's take a look at 5 degrees that make sense to earn in California right now.

1. Bachelor's Degree in Finance

As a host state for numerous financial institutions, mortgage companies, corporations and private companies, California offers abundant career opportunities in the finance industry. Hot finance industry job prospects in the near future in California include financial advisor, financial manager and financial examiner. A bachelor's degree is the entry-level academic credential that could help to qualify you for all of these job titles as well as others.

There are many California colleges offering finance degrees. One of the best is UC Berkeley, which US News ranks at number 6 on their list of the best colleges in finance.

2. MBA With a Specialization in Business Management

According to data posted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 919,820 Californians employed in management positions. They're making comfortable livings for themselves, earning mean annual salaries of $130,200. An MBA degree could help prepare you to be competitive in the California job market for the jobs that pay at the mid level and upper end of this range.

Numerous California universities confer MBA degrees. Cal State LA and California State University Long Beach offer a couple of possibilities to consider.

3. Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science

After graduation from college, California's Silicon Valley is a fantastic destination for computer science majors. California employers offer a disproportionately high percentage of all the jobs available in the high tech sector. A computer science degree would help to qualify you for a wide variety of lucrative high-tech jobs.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the occupation of software developer will be one of the fastest-growing employment prospects in the near future. The predicted growth rate is 17 percent for this occupation. There are already 129,180 software applications developers and 90,290 software systems developers employed in the state of California. In comparison, there are only 124,150 professionals working in California's legal occupations right now — including attorneys, judges, paralegals and others.

Marketwatch reports a list of the top colleges educating Silicon Valley hires. Colleges in California that made the list include UC Berkeley, Stanford University, UC San Diego, the University of Southern California and San Jose State University, all of which offer outstanding computer science degree programs. Carnegie Mellon University, which has a satellite campus in Silicon Valley, also made the list.

4. Doctor of Physical Therapy

There's a lot that can go wrong in California. Automobile accidents happen with alarming frequency on California's crowded freeways. California's athletes and extreme sports enthusiasts are also an accident-prone bunch. Physical therapists can help accident victims recover from their traumas. They are in high demand in California, and they're paid well for the work they do; there are already 19,910 physical therapists employed in the state earning mean annual paychecks of $95,350. California is the state in the USA with the highest employment level of physical therapists.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects rising demand for physical therapists in the future. The projected growth rate is a whopping 34 percent through the year 2024. Between the comfortable salary range and the high demand for the work physical therapists do, it's a no-brainer that it makes sense for California students to acquire the credentials necessary to perform this work.

If you're looking for a good California school offering physical therapy degree programs, check out the Physical Therapy Board of California's recommendations.

5. Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering

Submerged beneath the earth's surface in the state of California is a significant deposit of natural fuel resources known as the Monterey shale. Once extracted from the ground, these substances can be refined and distributed as oil and natural gas. One of the disadvantages is that the extraction process takes a significant toll on California's environment.

A popular procedure for natural gas extraction that industries are utilizing in California is called hydraulic fracturing, nicknamed "fracking". This process involves forcing a horrific mixture of harmful chemicals, along with gigantic amounts of water, into the ground. As a result, the natural resources come to the surface, which makes it easier for oil industry workers to access and process them. In the recent past, California has had major droughts and crisis-level water scarcity problems. Fracking further threatens both the supply and quality of groundwater in California.

Environmental engineers will be needed to help with managing California's ongoing water challenges. Experts at the US Department of Labor predict that 12 percent more environmental engineers will be added to the workforce to deal with these and other environmental issues that are arising. An undergraduate degree with a major in environmental engineering would qualify you for entry-level work. Even starter jobs pay well in this specialization; the mean yearly pay rate is $84,890.

UC Berkeley and Cal State LA are two California institutions offering degree programs in environmental engineering. Cal State LA's program would be particularly useful, as it offers coursework on the topic of cleaning up contaminated groundwater.

If you want to get a rewarding job in the state of California after graduating from college, these 5 degrees are all worth considering. Colleges in California can help you obtain the educational credentials you'll need for success in any of the occupations discussed above.

See also: 50 Best Value Colleges and Universities in California