Employers Are Most Eager to Hire Students With This College Major

Hint: It’s not English.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Apr 24, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

There’s some good news for college seniors worried that post-graduation plans will include moving back home and struggling to find a job. This spring, companies plan to hire 9.6 percent more college graduates than they did last year, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. But how quickly will the class of 2015 get snapped up by hiring managers? That all depends on what they majored in.

For its Job Outlook 2015 Spring Update, NACE received survey responses from 162 companies. According to the poll’s results, employers are most eager to hire from one particular major: engineering.

Indeed, 72 percent of the businesses surveyed responded that grads who studied engineering were on their employee wish list, even though most of the companies aren’t engineering firms, reported Forbes. Who’s not in demand? Health sciences and education majors. Only 3.2 percent and 5.2 percent of employers, respectively, want those grads on their payroll.

The employers represent a wide variety of fields—businesses such as American Express, Exxon Mobil, Merck, Procter & Gamble, and United Airlines. Although such diverse demand for engineers may seem unusual, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, only about one-third of people who major in engineering actually end up working as engineers.

The survey didn’t specifically ask employers why they’re on the hunt for folks with an engineering degree, but when NACE asked what quality or skill they most wanted in an employee, critical thinking and problem solving topped the list. Of course, thanks to the nation’s ongoing shortage of STEM grads, wanting to hire an engineering major and being able to make one a job offer are two different things.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the most popular majors are business, history, health sciences, education, and psychology. Only about 9 percent of college freshmen plan to major in engineering. Given the rigors of weed-out classes and pressure to maintain a high grade point average, more than 20 percent of those students switch to other subjects before graduation. That leaves a relatively small pool of engineering majors for employers to fight over. No wonder grads with degrees in the discipline tend to have the highest starting salaries.

Curious what other disciplines are hot or not? According to the survey, here are the four most and least in-demand majors.

Employers want to hire graduates who majored in these fields:

1. Engineering (72 percent)

2. Business (68.2 percent)

3. Computer Science (57.8 percent)

4. Accounting (50.6 percent)

5. Miscellaneous Majors (31.2 percent)

Employers aren’t as enthusiastic about graduates who majored in these disciplines:

1. Health Science (3.2 percent)

2. Education (5.2 percent)

3. Agriculture (8.4 percent)

4. Social Science (10.4 percent)

5. Humanities (11 percent)