5 Useful Degrees that Are Relevant for the 21st Century

Useful Degrees to Recommend Your Students
ResearchStudent Success
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Lisa Nichols is an educator and aspiring writer


In a rapidly evolving world, job trends and career paths are changing all the time, greatly impacting education. When deciding what degree to pursue, a student must consider whether it’s what they want to do and if the degree can help build their career. They should also find out if there will be a market for people with their specific skillset after they graduate. These are crucial considerations when considering a path in higher education.

The following are five degrees that are relevant in the 21st century—and a post-COVID world:

Digital Marketing: A Versatile Degree

Potential jobs: Content Manager, SEO Specialist, Social Media Strategist
Salary range: $40,000 to $220,000 a year depending on location

The recent boom in online businesses means there’s a growing need for digital marketers. After all, for a company to reach its target market, it needs to promote itself effectively, and there are many different ways to do this. There are many different careers in digital marketing, with plenty of opportunities to specialize. SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing are all branches of digital marketing, but are distinct in their methods and outcomes.

Cybersecurity: A High-Paying Degree

Potential jobs: Chief Information Security Officer, Information Security Analyst, Software Security Engineer
Salary range: $75,000 to $380,000 a year depending on location

Online businesses also need protection. With the rapid digitalization of the industry, companies are scrambling to up their cybersecurity measures. Unfortunately, this often requires the support of a cyber professional. Currently, there exists a cybersecurity talent gap. Last year, the US gap stood at nearly 360,000. That is the number of cyber professionals needed to cover all the companies and institutions that required cybersecurity, making it a highly useful degree in increasing demand.

Nursing: A Useful Degree—Now More Than Ever

Potential jobs: Nurse Manager, Geriatric Nurse, Nurse Educator
Salary range: $55,000 to $170,000 a year depending on location

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the massive shortage in healthcare professionals—nurses included. And given the global scale of the current health crisis, we need them now more than ever. The shortage of nurse staffing can be traced to a lack of qualified nurse educators, one of the leading careers in nursing. This role is not patient-facing, and instead gives a person the opportunity to mold the nurses who will eventually fill hospitals, community clinics, and extended-care facilities. Currently, critical care nurses, telemetry nurses, and geriatric nurses are among the specializations in high demand.

Psychology: A Degree with a Renewed Focus

Potential jobs: HR Manager, School Counselor, Mental Health Specialist
Salary range: $38,000 to $150,000 a year depending on location

The pandemic is also responsible for the population’s collective decline in mental health. Isolation, fear, and uncertainty can take a toll on a person’s well-being. This is why we need more mental health professionals who can help people work through their negative emotions. As conversations around mental health continue to grow, Psychology will remain a useful degree.

Finance: An Evergreen Degree

Potential jobs: Financial Planner, Budget Analyst, Accountant
Salary range: $30,000 to $120,000 a year depending on location

The COVID-19 pandemic also brought about a global economic recession. This stands as a reminder that people ought to plan their finances in case of crises. As such, more and more individuals are seeking the help of financial professionals to help them map out their future. Finance has been a reliably useful degree, but it’s especially relevant now. Investment representatives, bank representatives, and financial planners all have a part to play in ensuring financial health for people across the country.

Looking to offer students more insights on what degree to pursue? Check out the Skill Map career exploration tool. Students can use it to search for job demand data, salary information, and even specific skills employers are looking for.

Want help teaching the soft skills employers are looking for?