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The Ten College Degrees Most in Demand

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is an organization of college career counselors from over 2,000 schools and 3,000 HR professionals that work in corporations, businesses and recruiting firms. It has been in existence since 1956, giving it some standing as a well established professional organization.

NACE publishes a salary survey for students graduating with a bachelor's degree four times a year, based on a survey of its members and other professionals. They also development market information for graduate degrees such as the MBA, but their most widely quoted publication is the quarterly assessment of the job market for those with a baccalaureate. These reports not only contain salary information but also an analysis of the most sought-after employees based on college degree.

The survey for the winter of 2009 showed that among American businesses the most widely sought college graduate at the baccalaureate level is the student with an accounting degree. Data makes it clear that accounting is an evergreen choice for a college major, as it has been an important entry-level position in the job market for years. Also among the top ten desired job applicants are those with a finance degree or an economics degree.

The rest of the best are either engineering degrees or technology degrees, with one exception. Employers are looking for new hires with marketing degrees - not entirely a surprise, as the Web has become both a major sales center and a platform for multiple advertising and promotion options. Marketing graduates coming out of school this year are going to know much more about the use of the Web, its search engines and its social sites than the new graduates of just five years ago.

Among the IT degrees in the top ten most desired - and there are four - only one also holds a position in the list of the ten highest paid positions for new graduates. A computer science degree ranks fourth among the most sought after graduates and third in the category of best starting salary.

In the engineering field, a mechanical engineering degree performs best in this survey, ranking second in the most sought after college graduates and second for best salary, with the average starting annual pay at $58,648. There are three engineering degrees in this list of most sought after graduates - and there is further evidence that if you are considering an engineering degree it's a good bet across the category.

In a later survey conducted in the summer of 2009, two engineering categories - petroleum and mining -that aren't even mentioned in the earlier survey turn up among the top five salaries for new hires. That probably is due to the survey methodology, which includes only those degrees that are mentioned more than fifty times in the survey questionnaires. These are highly paid engineers but there aren't very many of them; there were only 450 graduates in petroleum engineering in 2008.

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