Choosing a College Major is one of the most impactful choices students will make in their lifetime. In fact, deciding on a good bachelor’s degree to have is something that creates a lot of anxiety and concern for students and parents. There are good reasons to be apprehensive about a major, as college is expensive and many families and students incur a lot of debt to get degrees.

Traditionally, the advice for college students wanting jobs with the prospect of making a lot of money, or having a future of employment, was to choose a vocational or technical degree.

Or, people who were majoring in liberal arts were encouraged to attend a professional school, such as law or medical school, after getting their bachelor’s degree.

The problem with traditional advice is it becomes obsolete in the face of the coming wave of technological advancements, including automation. This is a real threat, as tech giants like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have even proposed a Guaranteed Basic Income to help people who lose their jobs to automation.

College degrees and skills lag behind the fast-paced real world

According to an article in the New York Times, college majors and their attendant skills tend to lag behind the ever-changing workplace. Skills you are working on today may be automated or obsolete by the time you graduate.

Despite the push for STEM jobs, this is one of the areas where automation may have the most significant impact. Many of the STEM jobs have highly repetitive and predictable tasks, and those are precisely the types of jobs most vulnerable to automation. This isn’t to say there isn’t a future in STEM jobs, there definitely is, but you will probably have to earn at least a master's degree or Ph.D.

to remain relevant in the future.

So, what jobs don’t run the risk of automation?

The Guardian reports that jobs requiring a high-level of human interaction and understanding are the least likely to be automated, in the near future, at least. Examples include:

  • Nurses, doctors, and other consulting medical staff
  • High-ticket item salespeople
  • Police officers and investigators
  • Teachers, especially at the higher levels of education
  • Research scientists

Basically, any job where you have to use your brain creatively and deal on an interpersonal level with people.

Majors training you for these jobs may be the future.

What are good bachelor’s degrees to have?

While you can’t go wrong with a STEM degree, don’t discount the idea of getting a solid liberal arts degree. A study of the liberal arts will teach you critical thinking skills, problem solving techniques, writing, and communication skills. President Kennedy even wrote a letter to a college student that included good writing as a critical skill needed in life.

However, a liberal arts degree doesn’t mean you should skip or avoid science, math, or engineering classes. Taking courses in the “hard” sciences, traditionally, is part of a liberal arts degree program. Those courses teach technical problem-solving skills, and they give you a better understanding of the mechanical and technological side of the world.

Where to get your college major information

Surprisingly, with all of the information about degrees, majors, and education available on the internet; most people still get their educational information from family and friends. A Gallup poll of 22,000 people who have a bachelor’s degree revealed 55% of them consulted with family and friends for information. While this isn’t a bad idea, a more productive approach would be to speak with guidance counselors and people who graduated and are working. They will have a less biased view of what is happening in the job market.