The job market can be a tough place, particularly for new college graduates. While the unemployment rate for new grads (age 21 to 24) has dropped — falling to 7.2 percent in 2014 from 9.9 percent in 2011 — according to the Economic Policy Institute, it remains significantly elevated, particularly as new graduates are forced to contend with those from the previous six years who are still searching for positions.
However, there's no reason to lose hope.
"There are a number of bright spots in specific industries where recent grads should be looking at multiple attractive offers," said Dr. Josh Shapiro, director of research and evaluation for the Center for Research on the Regional Economy at UC San Diego Extension.
According to jobs and recruiting website Glassdoor, there are plenty of hot jobs cropping up in large numbers in the technology, finance and professional services industries. In addition, companies across all industries are hiring for these positions, which is providing new graduates with a large field of job opportunities.
Glassdoor and UC San Diego Extension recently conducted separate studies to determine what some of those hot jobs are. The Glassdoor report looked at median annual base salary (based on reported salaries from a minimum of 75 employees), career opportunities and the number of open jobs.
Meanwhile, the UC San Diego Extension report used an algorithm that accounted for the number of job openings, expected median base salary (based on 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics), work environment and projected growth.
Here's what the studies found:
Glassdoor Pick No. 1: Data scientist Median annual salary: $116,840
Data scientist takes the top slot on Glassdoor's list based on high hiring demand, salary and satisfaction around career opportunities. "It's a great choice for a new grad because even if job seekers don't have data science training, there's an increasing number of coding and software boot camps designed to take post-grads with no experience to successful job candidates in as little as a few months," according to the Glassdoor report.
While tech companies are looking to hire data scientists, demand is also coming from a wide range industries that are looking for people who can perform these data functions, as they have a direct impact on companies' profitability.
Glassdoor Pick No. 2: HR manager Median annual salary: $85,000
Human resources manager — charged with evaluating and implementing employee relations, programs and policies — ranks second, due to the high level of career opportunities and number of job openings. "As retaining top talent becomes just as important as recruiting top talent, companies are investing more to keep their employees satisfied — which means recruiting young professionals who can bring innovative ideas to the human resources department and help define and maintain company culture," according to Glassdoor.
Some employers have multiple employees in an HR role, so a new grad may start out in a different job title, such as HR coordinator, which can lead to a rewarding career path.
Glassdoor Pick No. 3: Marketing manager Median annual salary: $90,000
Marketing managers often have a diverse range of responsibilities — from assessing existing products and managing events to developing company content. This makes it an exciting position for new grads. According to Glassdoor, it's also a great career path due to the high number of job openings, as well as the high career opportunities.
"As companies grow and interact with different stakeholders, they'll look to hire more young marketing professionals who can find unique ways to promote their offerings and seek out potential long-standing partnerships, followings and clients," according to Glassdoor.
UC San Diego Extension Pick No. 1: Software developers Median annual salary application developer: $90,060. Median annual salary systems software developer: $99,000
Software developers, a job category that includes developers of apps as well as systems software, top the list of hot jobs, according to UC San Diego Extension. This is largely a result of the world's increasing digital-centric mentality, which has spurred demand for people in these roles.
"People in these jobs are in the driver's seat as they are developing and maintaining the systems that are the control panel for modern life," Shapiro said. Job growth for software developers is projected to grow by 23 percent between 2012 and 2022 — much faster than the average for all other occupations.
UC San Diego Extension Pick No. 2: Accountants Median annual salary: $63,550
"It's a good time to be a bean counter," Shapiro said, adding that as the economy has rebounded, it has translated into an increased demand for accountants and auditors as more companies start and grow their businesses. Employment in this category is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022.
UC San Diego Extension Pick No. 3: Market research analysts Median annual salary: $60,300
Market research analysts, who are charged with analyzing social and economic trends, defining and attracting new clients and assessing what those clients want, take the third spot on the list. "Big data is changing the field of marketing," said Shapiro. "Marketing is about more than snappy slogans; it now relies on mining databases, gathering data on consumer demographics, studying consumer-buying preferences so you can target the right audience with the right message with the right medium." These jobs are expected to grow 32 percent from 2012 to 2022.