Do popular college majors and workforce needs align in Utah?

The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) awards more than 30,000 degrees and certificates every year. Approximately 75-80% of all degrees and certificates awarded annually in Utah are from a USHE institution. What are the most popular majors? How well do they align to job demand in the state?

The Department of Workforce Services provides an Occupational Star Rating based on projected employment outlook and wages. The top “5-Star” occupations that require some type of college credential are below listed in order of projected annual openings:

The graphic below illustrates degrees and certificates awarded from a USHE institution ranked by the top 20 fields of study compared with the top 20 “5-Star” occupations, or those with the most job openings as projected by the Utah Department of Workforce Services from 2010-2020, that require some type of college education.

This is not an apples-to-apples comparison. A college degree or certificate does not automatically translate to one job filled in a specific industry. However, by general illustration, many top fields of study and Utah’s high-demand occupations are similar in rank, high-demand and high-growth industries such as Healthcare, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and Education are among the most popular majors:

Notes and Sources

  • Fields of Study listed are based on the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) defined by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) at the US Department of Education.
  • Occupations are based on the Standard Occupation Classification defined by the US Department of Labor.
  • Degrees and Certificates by Fields of Study: USHE 2014 Data Book, The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) (Total awards in 2012-13. Excludes Associates in General Studies (primarily used for purposes of transfer to 4-year degree programs) and awards in Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies to avoid duplication).
  • “5-Star” Occupations: Utah Department of Workforce Services – July 2012 (data filtered to only show occupations with some type of minimum postsecondary requirement, ranked by projected annual openings).
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