Majors & Careers

careers and majors

Before you choose a major, spend some time evaluating your interests and goals, and start exploring different career paths.


When it’s time to start making solid decisions about applying to college, many students have questions about how to choose a major and how a major may lead to a career.

  • What is a Major?
  • Explore Careers
  • Explore STEM

What is a Major?

A major is the specific subject you choose to study. It often relates to the career you plan to pursue.

Depending on the college, you might be able to major in two fields, have a major and a minor, or even create your own major.

Some majors train you for a specific job, but most prepare you for a range of careers. A college major is not the same as choosing your job.

How do I Choose a Major?

Explore your interests and various fields to discover what excites you. Ask questions.

Major in something that interests you. You'll do better in class and stay motivated throughout college and your career.

Assess your skills and strengths. What skills do you have? In which classes do you perform best? What are your strengths?

Think about your values. Do you like to work alone or with others? Do you like high pressure or little pressure? Do you want to help others? Is making a difference in society important to you?

Explore careers based on what you have discovered about yourself. There are many free online career search websites to check out. Visit New York's Career Zone and the United States Department of Labor to learn more about the daily tasks, estimated salaries, the skills and level of higher education needed for those careers.

Most colleges have a career development office where you can get FREE advice and resources to help you explore and decide on a career and major.

When do I Choose a Major?

If you don't know what you want to major in, you have time. Take different classes, and see what excites you.

Some programs require you to declare a major when you apply, but many four-year colleges don't ask you to declare a major until the end of your sophomore year. If you are attending a community or two-year college, you may have to choose early on.

If you have decided to go in the direction of a program such as premed or prelaw, you will still need to decide on a major.

Can I Change my Major?

If you aren't sure what you want to do, don't worry. Most students change their major at least once during their college years. College gives you the chance to learn more about many fields and find something you love to do.

Explore Careers

The only way to know if a career is right for you is to learn as much about it as possible. 

Do some research and find out:

  • What type of degree do you need?
  • What majors will prepare you for this career?
  • Are there any high school classes you can take now that relate to this career?
  • Will you need ongoing training or education?
  • What's the average salary of this career?
  • What's the outlook for this career?
  • What are the daily responsibilities of the job?
  • What are the working conditions of the job? Will you be working alone or as part of a team?

You can even give your career ideas a test drive. How?

  • Enroll in a class of interest
  • Search for internships
  • Volunteer
  • Look for a part-time job that will build your skills
  • Join clubs that relate to the field
  • Talk to others in the field

Start Exploring

Check out these websites to explore careers:

New York's Career Zone

United States Department of Labor

Mapping your Future


What is STEM?

STEM encompasses a number of careers in the fields of
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math

These are careers that create, discover or apply new ways to make life better for everyone in your community, your state, your nation and the world.

People attracted to STEM are:

  • Investigative - Interested in finding out, analyzing and exploring

  • Realistic - Interested in solving problems

  • Organized - Interested in processing and record-keeping

  • Creative - Interested in creating new things and “thinking out of the box”

Why should I consider a STEM career?

  • STEM careers are in high demand

  • Earn good pay

  • Earn respect

  • Learn new things

  • Create new technologies

  • Become a valuable asset to your community

Surprising occupations involving STEM:

  • Forensic technician in a police department (help solve crimes)

  • Food chemist (create new types of foods)

  • Ethical hacker (detect flaws in computer systems)

  • UX (user experience) designer (make websites easier to use)

  • Construction site manager (build things better and more efficiently)

  • Urban park forester (manage public and private forested lands and parks for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes)

  • Sonographer (help doctors diagnose diseases and injuries using ultrasound technology)

  • Veterinary technician (help keep pets healthy at a clinic or help scientists do research in a lab)

  • Biomedical engineer (develop cutting-edge technologies for health care products including artificial organs, instruments, prosthetics and care delivery systems)

STEM careers pay!

Occupation  Annual Median Wages*
Actuaries $139,243
Architectural and Civil Drafters $72,923
Biomedical Engineers $100,260
Civil Engineering Technicians $68,827
Computer Systems Analysts $104,255
Database Administrators $106,368
Electrical Engineers $124,993
Environmental Engineers $117,553
Industrial Engineers $110,931
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists $78,860
Computer Systems Analysts $94,760
Software Developers, Systems Software $120,301
Surveyors $99,403

*Half the workers were paid above and half were paid below this value

Source: New York State Department of Labor

Get Started in STEM

  • Take classes in science, technology, engineering, and math

  • Join math and science clubs and participate in activities that build your knowledge of STEM

  • Participate in STEM-based summer camps in your local community

  • Take advantage of internship opportunities in high school and college

  • Explore careers that interest you at

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