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5 Career Options for This Years Graduating Class

5 Career Options for High School Students - TeacherCast Guest Blog

Choosing a career path has never been an easy task, especially now with so many new options available in a constantly changing job environment. If you're into technology and want to make your mark in this digital age, a degree in computer science is a great place to start. This can lead to a myriad of interesting, necessary, and incredibly well-paying opportunities that are in high demand right now. Here are 5 career fields that high schoolers need to know about when deciding what to study in college.

Data Science

Data science was named the top job in America in 2016, yet 79.7% of data scientists have indicated there is a shortage in their field. It's a growing career field because it's become a major necessity in business. Among many other things, data scientists analyze a company's data from the past to find trends, weaknesses, and opportunities for success. Data analysts are like market gurus, who try to predict, rather than just react to the changing market conditions. But data scientists wear more than just the research hat; some are business managers, developers, and creatives. And they work across many different industries including healthcare and pharmaceuticals, government, academia, and even gaming. In fact, all the other jobs on this list require data analytics, so the opportunities are vast. Most data scientists have an advanced degree and it's common to get certain certifications, but it definitely pays off in the long run with a starting salary of $92,000 that can turn into much more over the years.

Cloud Computing

If you store files, take photos, or save anything on the Internet, then you're probably aware of the cloud. Well, think about how many files a company has – someone needs to be in charge of all that. In fact, more than 90% of companies in the U.S. are using cloud computing, which is spawning a slew of cloud computing jobs. A cloud career may involve development and configuration, managing cloud capacity, and most importantly maximizing security – essentially companies are handing their important data over to a third party, and it's a cloud computer's job to protect it. (In fact, cybersecurity is another tech job field in and of itself that's in very high demand.) This career path requires extensive IT knowledge and an advanced degree, and possibly some certifications, but the salary is upwards of $100,000.

Artificial Intelligence

While Artificial Intelligence is automating many jobs, it's also one of the fastest-growing areas for high tech professionals with many jobs across a multitude of fields, not just available, but in high demand. All the major tech companies, like Apple, Google, and IBM, are seeking AI specialists, as well as companies within the fields of agriculture, advertising, healthcare, transportation, and even emergency management. An advanced degree in software engineering, physics, or biology is a great place to start a career in AI. Companies look for people with experience with open-source projects, as well as analytical and creative abilities. The average salary for an AI programer is about $90,000. Right now, AI can take input data and generate a simple response, like photo tagging, speech recognition, or even self-driving cars. But it's still very limited and requires a massive amount of data. That's where cognitive computing comes in.

Cognitive Computing

Cognitive computing aims to mimic the human brain through self-learning using data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing. The idea is to perfect the way we make decisions by using volumes of collected data to make the best decision for us, whether it be on which of the latest tablets to buy or deciding which medical procedure will save a patient's life. When it comes to healthcare, a doctor will be able to choose the best treatment option for a patient based on numerous historical cases, best practices, diagnostic tools, and the patient's medical history. It can also be used in business to analyze consumer behavior; personally, as a shopping assistant that has already done all the research on the desired products; and in cybersecurity, being able to detect potential security risks within minutes. A degree in cognitive science can make you a top candidate for a variety of different jobs, whether it's in technology, psychology, medicine, or management and lead to a similar salary as AI.

Software Development

Software developers are the creative brains behind beautifully designed programming; and the field is quite broad. A software developer might create an entire program from scratch or work through the design process. They might build programs for desktop computers or build apps for tablets and smartphones. Some work on teams, and some work individually, even as freelancers. Growing at a rate of 30% (which is much faster than the rate of all other occupations), there are plenty of job opportunities in software development. A degree in computer science, experience with programming, and a hefty portfolio will make for a great contender in software development. The salary depends on what setting the developer is working in but can be similar to the other tech jobs on this list.

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. When she's not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

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