PhotoYou're all graduated and ready to go -- but go where? Moving from the classroom to the world of work is not the easiest transition, but it doesn’t have to be a killer.

To help recent college grads make their life-shaping decisions, University of California San Diego Extension has put together its fifth annual edition of "Hot Careers for College Graduates." A complete copy of the report is available at extension.ucsd.edu/specialreports.

The hot careers list was initiated to help new college graduates identify the most promising careers to bridge to desirable positions which can be easily attained with minimal extra preparation. This report notes up-to-date employment trends and projections.

What’s hot

According to the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary of April 2013,, within the past year jobs categorized under "professional and business services" have grown the most -- averaging an increase of nearly 49,000 jobs per month. This is reflected in the hot careers list by such jobs as computer systems analysts and software applications developers moving up to the top of the charts.

The forces that have most affected job demand and employment trends in the past five years have been the Great Recession that began in 2008, a global expansion in access to and use of the Internet, and the beginning of a retirement wave by the baby boom generation. These changes have influenced the types of jobs that are available, as well as the skills needed.

Overall, the study suggests an increasing national demand for college graduates with skills in computer sciences and analysis or problem solving. Here are the top 18 jobs:

  1. Software Developers, Applications
  2. Software Developers, Systems Software
  3. Market Research Analysts
  4. Accountants and Auditors
  5. Network and Computer Systems Admin
  6. Elementary School Teachers
  7. Computer Systems Analysts
  8. Management Analysts
  9. Public Relations Specialists
  10. Insurance Sales Agents
  11. Financial Analysts
  12. Computer Programmers
  13. Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific
  14. Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents
  15. Paralegals and Legal Assistants
  16. Middle School Teachers
  17. Training and Development Specialists
  18. Human Resources Specialists

Why they’re hot

What makes a hot career so hot? This list was scored in four criteria categories: current employment in the field, projected growth in the occupation between 2010 and 2020, median annual salary in the occupation, and workplace environment characteristics.

The desirability of the work environment includes such factors such as duration of work week, level of competition, time pressure, consequences of errors, and time spent standing. Each category was assigned equal weight, with a maximal potential category score of twenty-five, making one hundred the highest potential cumulative score for each career. The cumulative score was then used to determine the rankings of the occupations in the Hot Careers list.

A fifth dimension, "bridgeability," was applied as a simple criterion to include or exclude a given career from this particular list, but did not affect the weighted total score of the career. Its sole purpose was to eliminate careers that recent college graduates could not easily "bridge to" with minimal or no training beyond an undergraduate degree. The most noticeable difference between the 2012 and the 2013 list is the absence of healthcare positions this year and the increase in analytical and technical occupations.


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