Careers

College Majors and "Deskless" Careers

When high school students try to project themselves into a picture of doing their life's work, what do they see? In my opinion, I think many, if not a majority of them, picture themselves in a career that allows them "freedom to roam." Throughout the decades of my life's works (note the plural form), I have been saddled to a desk a number of times. "Desk jobs" don't seem to mesh with the majority of today's young people. At least that has been my observation.

In my view, the one element that seems to be missing from high schoolers, and even college students, is repose. There seems to be a kind of kinetic frenzy that compels today's youth to remain in constant motion. Medically, one might link this tendency to the proliferation of hyperactivity disorders, ADHD and the like. I can't document why that is. However, getting back to the issue of anticipating a life's work, one might easily see young people dreaming about jobs where they are relatively unfettered, not lashed to a desk for 40-some hours a week, crunching numbers, grinding out reports, and answering phone calls. The movie Office Space comes to mind.


Often, young people are indecisive about their career goals. They don’t know what they want to be, and so they don’t know what to study while they’re in college. Yet, despite their indecision about specific jobs and college majors, some young people are certain that they don’t want to end up working behind a desk all day. This bit of self-awareness can help these individuals choose a major that eventually prepares them for active, appealing jobs.

I've mentioned the book 10 Best College Majors for Your Personality before here. In light of "deskless" jobs, it has some interesting insights. Here are some college majors mentioned in the book that are related to jobs not behind a desk:

Medicine:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $164,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 21.8 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 26,050

Physician Assisting:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $84,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 39.0 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 4,280

 

Bioengineering:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $108,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 23.2 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 2,708

 

Civil Engineering:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $83,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 21.7 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 12,678

 

Biochemistry:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $82,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 36.9 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 3,498

 

Law:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $112,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 13.0 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 24,392

 

Economics:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $65,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 24.1 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 4,081

 

Accounting:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $60,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 21.5 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 50,818

 

Veterinary Medicine:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $81,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 32.9 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 3,020

 

Biology:

Annual earnings of related jobs: $115,000

Percent growth of related jobs: 15.5 percent

Annual openings of related jobs: 2,010

“We live in an information-based economy, with much of the growth in Dilbert-type settings, so any list of the best jobs or best majors includes many options that are not highly active. Nevertheless, a list such as the [above] can help you avoid the most sedentary choices,” explains author Laurence Shatkin.

So, maybe Shatkin's book can give you a heads-up on how to think about a future free of desk chains.

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