To say that the world has changed dramatically over the past two years would be the understatement of the century–or even the last couple of centuries. We all know the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on our collective health (both physical and mental), the economy, our livelihoods, politics, and of course, education. As we’re finally rounding the bend and inching ever closer to that glorious bright light of normalcy at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel through which we’ve been trudging, we are starting to notice more changes that the past two years have brought about–some more subtle than others. One of those changes is the workforce and the jobs that are either being created or growing in popularity as a direct result of the COVID world in which we’ve been living. And that, in turn, has generated quite a bit of interest in related college-major choices among the graduating class of 2022.

Bridgeway Academy’s very first virtual Career Day was held on March 9 (more details on that below), and we thought it would be a good time to look at some of the fastest-growing professions in the country as well as the most popular college majors for 2022. And you’ll notice that many of these jobs and majors are highly influenced by the recent events that have unfolded both in the United States and across the globe. As our older students prepare for graduation and the workforce that awaits them, let’s look at the top 5 fastest-growing professions and top 5 college majors (by interest) for 2022!

Top 5 Fastest-Growing Professions

CNBC recently released their list of the fastest-growing careers and professions, based on the LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise 2022 report. Here’s what they found:

  1. Vaccine Specialist: “If you asked me two years ago to guess what the top job in 2022 would be, I wouldn’t have said ‘vaccine specialist’ in a million years,” said Dan Roth, the editor-in-chief and vice president at LinkedIn. He’s not the only one. But given the world we live in today, this position makes a lot of sense. The pandemic opened the floodgates regarding jobs in the research, development, production, and distribution stages of vaccines, not to mention in the medical/pharmaceutical sales field. COVID vaccinations aside, there will always be a need for the advancement of medicines and vaccines that have traditionally done a very effective job at eradicating many diseases and conditions. Hopefully no one will need to develop a new vaccine for another pandemic anytime soon, but as the #1 fastest-growing profession, there should be plenty of positions available to handle whatever may come.
  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager: It’s no secret that racial tension has been on the rise in recent years. But it seemed to hit a boiling point on May 25, 2020. At a time when the country was already on edge and in the throes of a pandemic, the tragic death of George Floyd brought into focus the country’s long history of systemic bias and racism in many institutions, and this time, people decided to do something about it.

One solution was the creation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) positions within organizations. And DEI management, as a result, is the #2 fastest-growing profession. This type of position generally involves leading a team of people to support initiatives related to promoting and cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organization. And with racism and civil rights at the forefront of society today, so many businesses, schools, and other institutions are taking a hard look at themselves in the mirror and questioning whether they’re doing enough to create a workplace that is diverse and treats everyone equally. A DEI manager helps a company or institution become that place.

  1. Customer Marketing Manager: The title is a bit nebulous, but this type of position grew in scope thanks to the huge surge of e-commerce and the reliance on technology throughout the pandemic. After all, everyone was confined to their homes for months, forced to learn, conduct business, shop, and communicate through websites and other applications. Customer marketing managers, who are often the go-between for sales and marketing teams, are usually tasked with helping develop and execute marketing strategies and activities to drive customer engagement and advocacy–think rewards programs and customer events. Not surprisingly, the main industries hiring for these positions are related to software, the internet, information technology, and other similar fields.
  1. Machine Learning Engineer: Machine learning is huge. There are so many real-world examples of machine learning that we don’t even comprehend as actual machine learning because they’ve become so ingrained in our day-to-day lives and activities. Here are a few examples: online fraud detection (by learning your normal spending habits), apparel shopping (by making recommendations on best fits based on customer insights), recommendations of products and services (by learning your preferences and habits), photo sorting/tagging/characterization (by learning what’s in the photos and where to sort them), improvements in self-driving vehicles (by learning how to respond to certain driving situations), determining creditworthiness (by taking several factors into account), email targeting (by learning when you may be checking your email), and social media post ranking (by learning what topics are most relevant to you and placing them at the top of your feed). And this is merely a tiny, tiny fraction of a percent of what machine learning can be used for.

Machine learning engineers develop and implement self-running artificial intelligence algorithms and systems for products and applications around the world. And as we all become more reliant on technology, machine learning will only expand in scope, making it a profession with plenty of potential and opportunities.

  1. Process Development Scientist: Manufacturing has always been a critical industry all over the world, and Process Development Scientists help make it all more efficient and innovative. These positions, which are very prominent in the biotech, pharmaceuticals, and research fields, involve plenty of research and development to create better ways to manufacture products and streamline existing manufacturing processes.

Before heading into the workforce, of course, most young professionals must learn about their fields in college. For the Class of 2022, let’s learn about the 5 most popular college majors. This data was gathered by Niche, a college rating and review platform that also collects information on K-12 schools as well as places to live and work. When students register for a Niche account to start their college searches, they’re asked about their intended major; this data comes from the responses of nearly 936,000 students who will be graduating high school in 2022 or 2023.

The Class of 2022 students’ top 5 majors are:

  1. Business
  2. Nursing
  3. Psychology
  4. Biology
  5. Medicine/Pre-Medicine

The Class of 2023 students’ top 5 majors are:

  1. Business
  2. Medicine/Pre-Medicine
  3. Psychology
  4. Biology
  5. Nursing

Each class chose the same top 5, just in slightly different order–and you can easily correlate these majors with the fastest-growing professions, especially all of the medical and science majors. Medicine/pre-med, biology, nursing–all potentially inspired by the pandemic? Psychology as well, considering the mental toll the past couple of years has taken on all of us. Regardless of how these lists are interpreted, it’s fascinating to see such a healthy interest in science and business as our next generation of leaders begin their career paths.

Career Day at Bridgeway Academy

As mentioned earlier, Bridgeway Academy held its virtual Career Day on March 9, and it proved to be a helpful and engaging experience for students of all ages. Our elementary school students had the opportunity to listen to Alexandra Ashe, the CEO and founder of Kinkatopia, the world’s only kinkajou-specific sanctuary in the world, located in South Florida. If you’re not sure what a kinkajou is, check out her website–they’re pretty adorable.

Our middle school and high school students were treated to a variety of professions, including a soccer academy scouting director, a nurse, a property manager, and a shipping operations manager. For 11th and 12th graders only, a career coach offered guidance on how to choose a career as well as a relevant college major while also providing both students and parents with helpful tips.

With graduation less than three months away, careers and college majors are sure to be dominant topics of conversation among Class of 2022 students, Class of 2023 students, and their families for the foreseeable future. This is an exciting time for high school juniors and seniors, when they have the opportunity to create the path to their futures after graduation. If there is one small silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that it literally transformed existing industries and even inspired many new professions, thereby creating new jobs and careers that many never imagined would be possible before 2020.