What degrees are in demand? These programs will give you a competitive edge

May 02, 2023 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
Most hiring managers think the value of a college degree is on the rise, especially in certain industries. Take a look at some of the opportunities a degree can unlock.

In most industries, a college degree can set you apart from other candidates and help you land a job. In fact, we surveyed recruiters and hiring managers, and the majority indicated that the value of a college degree is rising.

In fact, recent world events reflected these findings: The gap in unemployment between people with a degree and without a degree was exacerbated by the pandemic. The unemployment rate for workers with a high school diploma was 3.7% pre-recession in January 2020, peaked at 17.3% in April 2020, and remained at 6.3% in July 2021. For workers with bachelor’s degrees, those figures were 2% pre-recession in January 2020, 8.4% at peak, and 3.1% by July 2021.

It seems that getting a degree is still a competitive advantage and not having one can still hold you back, as some survey respondents indicated.

“Most people who apply don’t have the needed degree,” said one hiring manager in our survey, on the challenges they face filling jobs.

Another revelation: The rising value of a degree is especially true in certain fields, namely computer, IT and math occupations, and in architecture and engineering occupations, where 66% and 68% of respondents, respectively, said that the value of a college degree has increased over the last year. But why these specific industries?


Tech and math jobs are in demand

Jobs with a technology focus are, well, technical. These roles include web developer, computer programmer, data analyst, software engineer, IT specialist and more. Candidates need a particular set of skills and experience that shows an employer they can work with a specific programming language, suite of software or piece of equipment. They also need a strong mathematical background, knowledge of general coding principles and, while not strictly necessary in all cases, would benefit from a higher education degree in their desired specialty.

Computer science, technology and mathematics jobs are highly competitive given their steep prerequisites and high pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for computer and information technology jobs was $97,430 as of May 2021, significantly higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $45,760. Meanwhile, the median annual salary for mathematicians and statisticians was $96,280 per year in 2021. As a result, candidates need to stand out among a sea of other capable professionals to secure a job in computer science, technology and math-focused industries. As our survey results indicated, a college degree can help.

Arizona State University offers online computer science and technology degrees for all areas of interest, including programs in engineering, business and mathematics. Additionally, ASU Online gives students a chance to go beyond the fundamentals and take courses in fields such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences offers several degree programs, including actuarial science, computational mathematical sciences, data science and mathematics with a concentration in either secondary education or statistics.

Started your career? How a college degree can still benefit you

If you already have marketable skills and a salaried job, getting a college degree may not seem fruitful; but that’s not how your future employer may be thinking. No matter your age or work experience, higher education can help you reach new professional heights, according to our survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers.

Architecture and engineering: Your degree is your license

Jobs within these two industries also require deep technical know-how. The path to becoming a card-carrying professional in these fields is difficult, and a college degree is the first step. As the National Society of Professional Engineers states, “To become licensed, engineers must complete a four-year college degree, work under a professional engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board.”

Meanwhile, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards requires a degree from a bachelor’s or master’s degree program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

ASU Online’s Master of Architecture explores the theory and practice of the craft and gives professional experience. Plus, ASU Online’s multiple engineering degrees cover the array of specializations in the engineering job sector, from biomimicry and construction management to business data analytics and computer information systems.


Now is the time to upskill and earn your degree

If you’re interested in pursuing these fields even after you’ve entered the working world, know that it’s never too late to go back to school. Our survey, The Value of Higher Education Today, showed that going back to school later in life is likely to have a positive impact on your application. Those who pursued a higher education between the ages of 25 and 34 or between 35 and 44 were perceived even more favorably than those in the 18-to 24-year-old age range.

Even after age 55, there is value to receiving a new degree: 61% of hiring managers said it either had no impact or a positive impact on their perception of the candidate.

Everything you need to know about ASU Online classes and degree programs

We’ve compiled what you need to know about online classes and degree programs at Arizona State University. Read on to learn all about what to expect from the ASU Online learning experience.


Step 1 of 2

Get started today

To learn more about ASU Online or a specific program, fill out the form below and check your email for information on next steps.

* Indicates a required field

This is a required field.