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5 Practical College Degrees

Choosing a major is no casual affair. Higher education encourages the growth and development of students -- personally, professionally, and academically. That all sounds great, but students want to know: Which majors get jobs? Check out our list of the five most practical college majors.

1. Computer Science

Pro: Computers are everywhere. There is a need for computer engineers in every area of every industry. That makes computer science one of the most useful degrees out there. Typically these highly technical positions also are a great return on investment, with some of the highest incomes in the country in all career fields.

Con: Long, irregular hours and impersonal work typify many careers at the end of this major. In the words of an anonymous IT engineer, "High paying work, yeah; high-paying, steady, soul-crushing work."

2. Biochemistry

Pro: Biochemistry studies the chemical composition of living things. Currently this is a high growth, high income field. In addition to a median annual income of over $100,000, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that biological sciences should see about a 21 percent occupational growth rate over 2008-2018.

Con: With a small employment base, this field is very competitive. Additionally, education up to a PhD is often necessary.

3. Business

Pro: Business education, like an MBA, has long been considered one of the most useful college majors. Let's face it, business is money. If you're in it for the money, self-motivated, and aggressive, this could be the major for you. Part politics and part economics, this major teaches you the analytical and team skills employers look for in the business world.

Con: This field is highly competitive. In 2008, there were over 155,000 MBAs awarded, so it can be hard to make yourself stand out from the herd. MBAs may be best for individuals who are already employed and looking for career advancement.

4. Education

Pro: With baby-boomers retiring and their grandchildren swelling the ranks of schools at every level, there should be no shortage of available positions for qualified educators, administrators, and support staff. Teaching in a subject field of your interest can lead to personal rewards and satisfaction unheard of in other careers. Also: summer breaks!

Con: The personal rewards must be expensive, because education is not the most lucrative career. Teachers may also need to double major in college--one major in education and the other in the area you want to teach.

5. Nursing

Pro: Another field with an increased need for qualified individuals and better than average pay, nursing is one of the most useful majors. With any number of specialties and levels of advancement, nursing is a great opportunity to leave you open to many people-oriented career options.

Con: The hours can be long and erratic, and nurses definitely need to be willing to get down and dirty. Regular continued education, training, and certification is necessary to stay licensed.

In a tight job market, employers are increasingly looking for specific technical skills in employees. Choosing the right college major can help you get those skills and land a rewarding job after graduation.

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