From Zoology Major to Marketing Manager

Debrah Wheatman
American Marketing Association
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Key Takeaways

What? Here's why your major might not necessarily determine your life-long career.

So what? College students can and should expect to end up in a career that differs from their majors.

Now what? Recent graduates should take comfort that they are not limited by their field of study. Keeping an open mind and broadening a knowledge base can lead to unexpected career developments.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, most college graduates are engaged in a career that is not related to their undergraduate or graduate field of study.  The numbers vary by field of study.  The study demonstrates that your college degree does not determine your life-long career.  If you were fascinated by zoology studies at the age of 20, it does not mean that you can’t be a great marketing manager down the road.  There are several factors for this discrepancy between a field of study and occupation. 

Extended post-graduate unemployment.

There are only so many months that mom will let you live in the basement.  At a certain point, it is time to get a job…any job!   When candidates begin to explore a wider range of jobs, they often find an interesting job that leads to a career.

Many attractive jobs don't require a specific field of study.

A great number of occupations don’t require a specific field of study. However, many employers prefer a degreed candidate for those positions. 

Lack of opportunities in particular occupations or industries.

Many fields are predominant in certain geographic regions or metro areas.  If your significant other is tied to a different region, you might be the one to change occupations to stay close to the one you love. 

Serendipity can lead to a career change.

Many times we hear someone say, “I just stumbled into this career.” They tell an interesting tale of how the stars aligned and voila…they went from kinesiology major to a social media manager for an NFL team.

Major studies, including those from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, consistently reveal that overall, individuals with a college degree earn more than those without a degree. What the Pew study shows is that one’s specific degree does result in a career in that field in most cases. The bottom line is that your degree is still valuable. 

Author Bio:
Debrah Wheatman
Debra Wheatman is the pre​sident of Careers Done Write and an AMA Career Resource Center contributor. Read more from Debra here or follow her on twitter at @DebraWheatman.
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