Critical Thinking A Foundation For Consumer-Focused Careers

You’ve walked across the stage to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance”, flipped your tassel to the left side of your cap and posed hurriedly for a picture your parents will definitely buy for the fireplace mantel. Now it’s time to begin the next stage of your life: college.

And of course, you’ve got to choose a college major — but which major is the right one? The future stretches ahead of you, and there are many possibilities to pursue based on your talents and interests.

At the same time, student debt is a serious concern—the average student in the Class of 2016 had $37,172 in debt, and it’s the now the second-highest consumer debt category after mortgages. Which is all to say that choosing the right major is more important than ever before.

“A good career starts with a solid foundation,” says Indeed SVP Paul Wolfe. “A student’s major may lead to a variety of options that they don’t even know about yet. But studying the potential options can help you hone in on your area of study, as well influence the types of organizations and people you look to connect with on the way.”

Information on which jobs are trending in today’s market can be a helpful resource for students, parents, and educators. Let’s take a closer look at pathways and salary information, based on an analysis of Indeed’s data.

Connecting majors to careers

To make our list our data science team identified some of the most popular majors in Indeed’s 90 million strong resume database and then looked at the jobs that most commonly appeared on those resumes. We then analyzed Indeed’s salary information for these jobs to get a sense of how much they pay on average. In the table we provide an at-a-glance sense of the results. Below, we take a deeper dive into potential pathways.


Are you good with numbers? Accounting is a versatile business degree, and you’ll have the opportunity to work with businesses, individuals and the government to ensure the accuracy of financial records, as well as make sure taxes are paid on time. Popular jobs for accounting majors include chief financial officer, assistant controller, and accountant — people in these positions make an average salary of $126,579, $85,636 and $53,227, respectively. That said, some studies suggest that accounting roles may be impacted by automation, so be sure to follow the advice of the experts and be prepared to upskill so you can pursue strategic roles.

Search for accounting jobs here.


If you want to understand and explore the structure, function and evolution of diverse living systems, biology is the major for you. Majoring in biology means you could contribute to fields ranging from genetic engineering to stem cell research to cancer research — and beyond. Biology grads have a lot of options: They can research or teach, and they can work for profit or non-profit organizations. We often see roles such as scientist, microbiologist or research associate on resumes on Indeed — which on average pay $84,978, $61,480 and $48,733 respectively.

Search for biology jobs here.


Business majors usually specialize in a particular field, such as accounting, finance, business management and administration, or marketing and international business (to name a few). That said, the opportunities here are vast, as business majors develop skills which are valuable to employers that can be transferred to a multitude of careers. Jobs that we often see on business grad resumes include director of operations, business analyst and recruiter — earning average wages of $87,950, $76,339 and $51,171, respectively. More good news: Business and financial occupations employment is projected to grow 8% by 2024, according to BLS data.

Search for business jobs here.

Communication Studies

Communications is a versatile major that delves into fields such as journalism, electronic media, TV & radio broadcasting, mass communications, public relations and advertising. It’s a popular subject that can lead to great jobs — such as director of communications, which averages a salary of $78,724; producer, which averages $58,229; and public relations manager, which averages $50,537. If you have great speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills and have a love for communicating a message effectively, then this could be the degree for you.

Search for communications jobs here.

Computer Science

As software and computers become ever more fundamental to how we live and work, the outlook for computer science majors is very positive — in fact, according to BLS data, employment in this field is expected to grow 11% by 2024, which is faster than average. So if you’re skilled at algorithmic thinking, programming and software engineering this could be a great choice for you. And it pays well — career paths include development operations engineer, which pays an average of $125,105, software engineer, which pays $101, 798, and business intelligence developer, with an average of $95,939.

Search for computer science jobs here.

Criminal Justice

If you’re fascinated by law and the intricacies of the judicial system, majoring in criminal justice would be a great move. You don’t have to go on to be a lawyer — the opportunities in this field are wide and varied. People who major in criminal justice and who are searching for work on Indeed frequently click on crime analyst, police officer, and security officer jobs — which pay averages of $68,006, $47,401, and $24,255, respectively. While these particular jobs are not necessarily as well paid as some of the others on the list, they are the kinds of jobs where your work can make a big difference in people’s lives.

Search for criminal justice jobs here.


Educators have a crucially important job. At this year’s Indeed Interactive, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell referred to the occupation as the “model profession of the 21st century”, since it requires a mix of leadership, social and cognitive skills plus adaptability and a constant thirst for learning. If you have a love of interacting with children or enjoy tutoring friends on schoolwork they don’t understand, this is likely the major for you— though it also helps to be patient, well-organized, and flexible. Education roles include consultant, which on average pays $79,504 to school principal and teacher, which average salaries of $64,487 and $47,289.

Search for education jobs here.


Engineers apply scientific knowledge to real-world problems, and are builders, designers, and problem solvers. They rely heavily on creative thinking and logical decision making, and are especially skilled in science and math, and typically choose one of four engineering disciplines to specialize in: civil, chemical, mechanical or electrical. Post-graduation, engineers can expect to earn high annual wages: an Engineering Manager earns an average of $106,004, while Electrical Engineers earn $82,695 and Mechanical Engineers earn $78,169.

Search for engineering jobs here.


If you love to spend your time writing stories, poring over texts and analyzing different types of literature, you might consider majoring in English. From reading novels, short stories, plays and poetry to writing and discussing your views on literature, students in this field are exposed to the best that human thought has to offer, and develop a heightened awareness of the power of language — which opens up numerous possibilities in fields where skill with language is key. People who major in English find jobs such as director of marketing, writer/editor or English teacher, and make average salaries of $86,875, $54,986 and $43,514.

Search for English jobs here.


An understanding of finance is fundamental to business and banking operations — so if you know you want to pursue a career managing money, this would be a great choice for you. Graduates here go on to find jobs in bond brokering, corporate finance, financial planning, investment banking and beyond. Indeed resume data shows that popular pathways for finance majors include work as directors of finance, trader, and financial analyst roles — jobs with respective earnings of $100,880, $95,632, and $65,473. More good news: financial jobs look set to experience above average growth, with financial analyst roles expected to grow 12% by 2024 — so studying finance in college could really pay off.

Search for finance jobs here.

Fine Arts

Do you have a thirst to create and a love for art, art history, music, or acting? If so, a fine arts major would be a good fit for you. Fine arts majors engage in a wide variety of creative courses, exploring mediums like photography, painting, theatre, music performance, sculpture and graphic design. And while fine arts jobs aren’t growing particularly fast, with a slower than average 2% job outlook— it’s a rewarding and constantly challenging major, and people can go on to careers such as creative director, art director, or graphic designer, averaging salaries of $91,567, $54,986, and $43,514.

Search for fine arts jobs here.


Unlike vocational degrees such as accounting or nursing, it is less obvious which career tracks history majors can pursue. However, history majors develop transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and adaptability, which opens up a wide array of possibilities. While the single biggest post-graduation decision for history majors is to go to law school, there are others who find jobs in teaching, library science, international relations and museum studies. Indeed’s resume database shows that history majors often go on to work as business development managers, social studies teachers or paralegals —which can pay $76,739, $55,595, $49,802, respectively.

Search for history jobs here.


Often dubbed the “creative” business major, marketers generally have one end goal: to teach and convince consumers why they should choose your product or service. How you do that varies, as there are many different roles that fall under the giant marketing umbrella — but if you enjoy thinking about how people think and want to pursue a creative and sometimes artistic role in the corporate workplace, you might want to consider marketing. A look at popular jobs suggests marketing majors can expect higher than average salaries —  product managers, directors of marketing, and marketing managers on average get paid $101,922, $86,849, and $69,978 respectively. If a constantly-changing field that combines creative ability and analytical skills sounds appealing to you, then a major in marketing might be a great decision.  

Search for marketing jobs here.


Indeed economist Mariano Mamertino describes nursing as a “future-proof” job due to its resistance to automation. It is also a great career for anyone with an inquisitive mind, interest in healthcare and an empathetic personality. There are opportunities in management and administration, as well as roles like nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nursing informatics — a specialized field combining health science, computer science, and information technology skills. We often see jobs such as director of nursing, nursing supervisor and registered nurse one resumes, which have average salaries of $96,268, $72,971 and $68,750, respectively. And because it’s estimated that over 50% of nurses are over age 50 and so will soon be retiring, demand for nurses is expected to grow. In fact, RNs see a job outlook of 16% growth, which is much faster than average, according to BLS data.

Search for nursing jobs here.


If the mind and human behavior are topics that intrigue you, then psychology could be a good fit. According to the American Psychological Association, psychology is a “helping career,” which means people with psychology degrees often assist others through direct services such as mental health, education, and human resources, or indirectly through applying research skills to solve problems — all the more reason to pursue this fascinating major. As for what you can do after graduation, the Indeed resume database shows that people who majored in psychology often go on to work as human resources managers, behavioral therapists and counselor. The average Average salaries for these roles range fare $68,613, $35,326 and $30,171, respectively.

Search for psychology jobs here.

This report is based on an analysis of the most common majors (business, psychology, accounting, nursing, criminal justice, marketing, computer science, biology, finance, communications) in our resume database, for those who have only bachelor’s degree. We determined the 50 most common current job titles for those with each major, and the percentage of resumes within that major that have that current job title. For salary information, we then calculated the average salary for each of these job titles over the last two years. If the most common salary type record was monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly  we adjusted for a 40 hour work week over 52 weeks a year.


Time to polish that résumé, marketers. The business is shifting amid rapid change, and jobs that were considered experimental a few years ago are now indispensable. Career paths are being disrupted midstream, and both brands and ad agencies are recalibrating talent for the next generation of marketing. The combined forces of globalization and the commoditization of technology are exacerbating the pace at which new, promising tools are becoming available to brands, per Aaron Harvey, co-founder and ecd at Ready Set Rocket, who says that every job title the digital marketing agency hires for today did not exist when it launched eight years ago. “It’s going to be incumbent on [marketers] to look for passion projects and experiment on passion projects,” he explains. 

Or, put another way, what is it about futuristic tech and data that gets you jazzed? Marketers of all stripes need to figure out the answer to that question to stay current. And with more gigs in mar tech and ad tech, you’d better start learning the ABCs of DMPs, IVRs and PMPs.

“[Marketers] need to create experiences that people want to consume,” notes Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction. And that’s going to take the right kind of know-how.

After querying a bevy of experts, we identified 10 jobs that will be the most important and in-demand roles in digital marketing for the next several years—or at least until the next wave of innovation comes crashing down.

Chief experience officer
Category: Executive management
Fast fact: By 2020, 40 percent of chief digital officers will report to CXOs, according to IDC.
Skills needed: Mastery of design thinking and a solid foundation in computer science, creative and executive management

Developing broad skills at the intersection of marketing and technology is paramount to understanding the evolution of customer experiences in the connected age, says Donald Chesnut, global chief experience officer at SapientRazorfish. Managing the full experience that consumers have with brands also requires a relentless focus on individuals and the ability to identify how a brand can enrich or add meaningful value, he says.

“I do think diversity of experience is important, but most critical is a deep empathy and focus on design thinking, which puts the target person at the center of business decisions,” he says. “The constant evolution of digital—which puts the power in consumers’ hands and helps to galvanize experience-oriented thinking—provides another factor in making sure tomorrow’s challenges will be very different from today’s.”

Alex Vera, creative director at experiential marketing firm IDL Worldwide, advises those interested in a career as a CXO to develop a deep understanding of content creation across all media. “I would recommend that students get a good dose of design thinking in their education if experience creation is a passion of theirs,” Vera says. “I see a future of generalists in experience design rather than a field of specialists.”

VR editor
Category: Content production
Fast fact: 1,400 jobs listed on LinkedIn
Skills needed: Expertise in object-oriented programming, project management and video arts; ability in software products like Adobe Creative Cloud and Unity3D

Virtual reality (VR), or 360-degree video, is a mostly uncharted medium that doesn’t benefit from the well-established workflows of traditional video, says Matt Posey, editor at PS260. VR has been trying to break into the mainstream for decades, but technology is now powerful enough that consumers can have a truly immersive experience with just a smartphone and Google Cardboard.

“Because this format is so new, the field is open to experiment and presenting provocative ideas without being beholden to the traditional, more impersonal ways of offering information,” Posey explains. “The best people for the job are ones who want to try something new and crazy.”

Directors, creatives, editors and visual effects artists all have a strong opportunity to contribute to the development of VR and 360-degree video, Posey says.

Andrew Miller, program director at recruiting firm Aquent, advises a “shoot first and ask questions later” approach. “Renting or buying a 360-degree camera or rig is not expensive,” he says.

Video marketing professionals also need to express a strong belief in the medium’s unique ability to inform, persuade, promote, move and inspire, says Jason Hsiao, chief video officer at Animoto. “Anyone who expects to lead their organization to become video-first must truly love video and have a vision for the opportunity it’s able to unlock.”

Bot developer
Category: Cross-enterprise technology
Fast fact: Bots or virtual assistants will command 20 percent of user interactions with smartphones by 2019, according to Gartner.
Skills needed: Undergraduate degree in computer science; knowledge of linguistics, interactive language arts, programming, design, engineering, natural language processing and ethics.

Global spending on cognitive artificial intelligence is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 54 percent and will reach $46 billion in 2020, according to a recent IDC study. So if you’re looking for a new line of work, conversational bots are a niche that’s rich with opportunity if not nascent in execution.

“Big companies are rushing to stake out some ground in this whole algorithm-enabled world,” notes Susan Etlinger, analyst at Altimeter Group. “There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed before we get to ambient intelligence.”

Bots with a deep domain expertise are in short supply and high demand, Etlinger says, so she encourages developers to laser-focus in on a particular area, like financial services or health insurance. Bot developers will pull from three well-developed fields, including writing, interface design and game design, says Oren Jacob, CEO of PullString. “While not many people have backgrounds in all three of these areas, professionals from any of these fields will have a decent shot,” he explains.

“For absolute beginners, take on any project that lets you learn to use [APIs],” adds Aquent’s Miller.

IoT marketing strategist
Category: Mar tech
Fast fact: More than 8,000 openings listed on job sites
Skills needed: Engineering background and a foundation in telecommunications

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a fast-growing and seemingly all-encompassing field. At least 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide by the end of this year—and that number is expected to reach 20.4 billion by 2020, according to Gartner, which predicts total spending on IoT endpoints and services to reach $2 trillion this year.

IoT is an umbrella term for various unrelated devices such as wearables and connected appliances. IoT marketing strategists can help their organizations cut through the noise with specialized skills in retail sensors, radio frequency technology, digital signage, smartphones, wearables, automobiles and virtually anything that transmits data.

Those who want to enter the field ought to have a predilection for embracing a world where humans and machines seamlessly interact. For instance, says IBM vp of marketing analytics Ari Sheinkin, TVs and couch potatoes will soon be regularly chatting it up. “We really want to make the insights ubiquitous,” he adds, “so it’s not contained in a laptop or database.”

Mixed-reality designer
Category: Content production
Fast fact: Estimated $3 billion market by 2024, per Grand View Research
Skills needed: Post-graduate degree in graphic design or computer animation; familiarity with Unity3D, cognitive and social psychology, user experience design and storytelling

The emerging world of mixed reality (MR) is best served by individuals who are passionate about emerging technologies and curious about mediums beyond virtual or augmented reality, says Di Dang, senior UX designer of mixed reality at digital agency POP.

“This is the ‘Wild, Wild West,’ and we need as many different points of view and backgrounds as possible,” Dang remarks. “Silos are breaking down, so don’t pigeonhole yourself or think that you need certain prerequisites or specializations before you can do anything.” She broke into mixed-reality design with a strong foundation in digital product design and user experience and research.

Johannes Saam, senior creative developer at creative studio Framestore, believes a post-graduate degree in graphic design or computer graphics is an equally viable starting point for a career in mixed-reality design.

“A passion to tell stories and generate images with computers is what got me in,” recalls Saam. Mixed reality is also the perfect blending of art and science, which makes it a field that requires a strong background and passion for both design and technology. “As long as you are excitable and love understanding the roots of [mixed reality] while spending time to keep up with the new technology, you’re in a good place,” Saam asserts.

Data scientist
Category: Cross-enterprise technology
Fast fact: $203 billion industry by 2020, per IDC
Skills needed: Undergraduate or post-graduate degree in computer science; strong grasp of machine learning, artificial intelligence and data optimization

There is a dramatic shortage of talent in data science: By next year, U.S. businesses will require at least 181,000 people with deep analytical skills and nearly 1 million additional professionals to manage and interpret the deluge of data, according to IDC. Deep analytics require the use of sophisticated data processing techniques and usually involves complex queries on unstructured data sets to yield insights in near real time.

“A data scientist requires some formal math education and usually a combination of statistics, linear algebra, and calculus,” explains Scotty Pate, data scientist at Goodway Group. “The most pertinent qualification for this work is curiosity. The answers are usually buried in a mountain of noisy data and are difficult to discover.”

Machine-learning engineer
Category: Cross-enterprise technology
Fast fact: 13,500 jobs listed online
Skills needed: Expertise in programming, machine-learning algorithms and statistics

We live in an increasingly algorithmic world. Because of that, machine learning (ML) is going to be of vital importance to marketing to deliver relevant content, argues David Evans, chief technology officer of Uncorked Studios. “These technologies go beyond those applications and can be adapted to all parts of the content or business pipeline,” he explains.

Prasad Chalasani, chief scientist at MediaMath, suggests that post-graduate studies in math, statistics and physics are the best path to a career in machine learning. “Establish a solid quantitative foundation in the areas of probability and statistics, gain hands-on experience in applying ML techniques, and become competent in coding, especially in Python or Scala” Chalasani says.

Omnichannel retail strategist
Category: Retail
Fast fact: Ecommerce sales will surpass $500 billion by 2020, according to Forrester Research
Skills needed: Post-graduate study in psychology, neuroscience and critical thinking; familiarity with data analytics, marketing strategy, project management, user experience design and rapid prototyping

With around 400 open jobs on LinkedIn featuring “omnichannel marketing” in the title, the role of omnichannel retail strategist is a relatively nascent one for now, but will be in high demand in the years to come, according to Graham Mudd, product marketing director at Facebook. “The challenge will be finding people with expertise in both ecommerce and physical retail,” he predicts.

Omnichannel strategists are imperative to understanding how new technology solutions can be used most effectively with the greatest impact, says Sophie Slowe, vp, strategy at Kitewheel. “New platforms enable more consistent, personalized and real-time experiences to be delivered to individual consumers across the ecosystem. But without the strategy to power them, these tools are futile,” she explains.

A career in omnichannel marketing also requires a deep appreciation for all elements of the business, and many organizations are bringing consultants and strategists together to collaborate on holistic solutions for next-generation retail. Adds Slowe, “Data analytics is a key way to understand current consumer behaviors, and the first step towards figuring out how to adjust and refine them in the desired direction.”

Voice skills developer
Category: Communications planning
Fast fact: There are 15,000 Amazon Alexa skills
Skills needed: Undergraduate degree in computer science or linguistics; experience with JavaScript, Python and deploying projects for Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana

Get ready, folks: Voice AI is about to explode. As the interface becomes faster, more connected and allows for greater detail and personalization, voice AI “is becoming rapidly important to search marketing,” says Michael Dobbs, vp of SEO at 360i. “Deciphering user intent will become increasingly complex as consumer communication shifts from typing to natural language. This complexity will increasingly impact how brands build trust with consumers and communicate their relevance back to audiences.”

In an era of algorithms, Dobbs adds, “marketers and agencies will need to fight fire with fire, creating their own artificial intelligence, using deep learning, natural-language processing and algorithms that tap into big data.”

Already equipped with a broad set of capabilities, voice-enabled assistants are now deepening their strengths in key areas of interest, says Altimeter Group’s Etlinger. As a result, she explains, voice skills developers need to create something that has utility with clear objectives and answers to various commands. “Use language that’s appropriate for the interaction” and develop variances in tone to highlight your brand’s personality, she says.

Dobbs concurs: “A conversation with the brand’s agent offers a lot of risk and reward.”

Hologram retail display designer
Category: Retail
Fast fact: Augmented reality will be a $100 billion industry by 2020, per ABI Research.
Skills needed: Undergraduate or post-graduate degree in computer science or 3-D design

Fans of The Matrix may soon be able to experience a real-life version of the movie’s simulated reality in their local shopping center. Industry experts say that holograms, which consist of 3-D virtual renderings of real-world objects, could prove useful in retail settings because they allow stores to showcase products without carrying the actual inventory.

These types of futuristic systems can break through the clutter and immerse the consumer in a shopping experience tailored to their interests and needs, predicts Curt Thornton, CEO of Provision Interactive Technologies. “Holographic technology brings augmented reality into the physical world and adds another layer of information, interactivity and engagement with the consumer,” he explains.

Professionals in the emerging field of holographic retail design will have the opportunity to redefine the art of storytelling and focus on more immersive ways to represent a product or service. Computer science and design skills are necessary, but creativity is of utmost importance, Thornton says. “Designers will need to bring a new level of imagination to design holographs. They will need to think outside the box … and, most importantly, they should not be afraid to push boundaries,” he says.

Ready to change careers?

Here’s how two digital pros, a former research analyst and a rocket scientist, made the switch (to jobs at Facebook and an agency, respectively), and click here to read our profile on Bevel’s Tristan Walker.

Sarah Epps
Director of product marketing, core ads at Facebook
It was trying on Google Glass that convinced Sarah Epps it was time to make a career switch. The then-Forrester Research analyst was covering wearables when she decided that she wanted to switch gears and start building technology products herself.

“I had that realization: ‘Wow, I want to be part of shaping these technologies and the way that they’re used and not just influencing it more indirectly,’” she says. Epps is now Facebook’s product marketing director, running all the tools that brands employ on the social network, including working on ad preferences.

Underscoring how niche jobs sometimes entail skills that are surprisingly portable to significantly different kinds of gigs, Epps says her ability to synthesize words and information as an analyst is equally valuable today.

“[At Forrester,] I would synthesize [information], come up with a POV and then communicate it to stakeholders. We’re looking at what’s happening in our own tools and systems [at Facebook] and coming up with a POV and the ability to create meaning.”
—Lauren Johnson

Jared Macke
Director of digital innovation at Brighton
While digital marketing doesn’t always take a rocket scientist, it doesn’t hurt to have one on hand. Years before he became director of digital innovation at the St. Louis-based agency Brighton, Jared Macke used his time as an engineering student to help adventurer Steve Fossett become the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon. But Macke didn’t stay in aerospace after graduation.

“Rocket scientist is [just] a colloquialism,” he says, demurring the title. (Still, he adds, “I did do some theories on proposed spacecraft.”)

After spending several years in marketing, he joined the Kansas City Royals as a systems architect for baseball analytics, where he and several others led the team’s own moneyball unit that helped propel them to the World Series. According to Macke, it was his background in marketing and data analysis that helped him get the job in the first place­—and he claims that the two fields have more in common than one might expect.

While he continues to work with data-heavy marketing automation, Macke sees similarities between the rapid prototyping for engineering and the modeling he uses for brands like Monsanto to create virtual reality experiences that help farmers understand the complexities of weed killers. “This idea of working on the internet,” he says, “gave me this same technical density, but at a much faster pace.”
—Marty Swant

Don’t miss the Adweek Livecast webinar on Aug. 22 with IBM chief digital officer Bob Lord on how marketers can succeed in an AI-driven market. Register now.

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