11 Most Wanted Degrees in '11

Most Wanted DegreesBy Larry Buhl, Special to CareerBuilder

While the job market can't be called robust, employers say that they plan to hire almost 20 percent more four-year college graduates than they did last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Already, 41 percent of the current class who applied for a job has received at least one offer, compared with 38 percent of the Class of 2010 at this time last year.

Hiring by industry has increased in almost every sector, except for government, professional services and retail. Engineering, computer-related and "money" degrees like accounting perennially comprise the most job openings, and this year is no different. However, liberal arts and science majors also are seeing slightly better opportunities this year, according to the NACE.

Below are the bachelor's degrees that businesses told the NACE that they most demand.

1. Computer science

Of those who have applied for a job, more than 56 percent of computer science majors in the class of 2011 already have received an offer, the NACE reports. Computer software engineers who specialize in both applications and systems software are expected to have plenty of opportunities. Meanwhile, the law of supply and demand is pushing the average annual salary offer to just over $63,000, making computer science one of the best paid majors in 2011.

-- Find Computer Science jobs

2. Accounting

New graduates are finding opportunities in public accounting, management accounting, government accounting and internal auditing.

Average annual salary offer: $50,316

-- Find Accounting jobs

3. Finance

Employment possibilities can be found in nearly every industry, but are plentiful in accounting, corporate accounting and banking.

Average annual salary offer: $53,048

-- Find Finance jobs

4. Electrical engineering

Electrical engineering also ranks second (after an MBA) among degrees in demand at the master's level.

Average annual salary offer: $60,646

-- Find Electrical Engineering jobs

5. Mechanical engineering

New mechanical engineering grads enjoy some of the highest starting salaries among the class of 2011, but in some fields -- oil and gas extraction, and software publishing -- mechanical engineers are seeing especially high wage offers, according the BLS.

Average annual salary offer: $60,739

-- Find Mechanical Engineering jobs

6. Business administration and management

Business administration is one of the broadest undergrad majors, preparing students for jobs as compensation and benefits managers, marketing consultants, management consultants, general managers, financial analysts, employee relations managers and more. For those who recently graduated with a master's degrees in business administration, opportunities are even greater. MBAs are by far the most in-demand master's degree, according to NACE.

Average annual salary offer: $46,832 (for holders of bachelor's degrees)

-- Find Business Administration/Management jobs

7. Information sciences and systems

Graduates are finding openings with computer systems design establishments, software publishing firms, data processing and hosting companies, consulting services and healthcare organizations.

Annual salary offer: $56,868

-- Find Information Sciences jobs

8. Computer engineering

In addition to typical jobs of designing, constructing or operating computer systems, there are opportunities for new grads who specialize in digital systems, operating systems, computer networks and software engineering.

Average annual salary offer: $60,112

-- Find Computer Engineering jobs

9. Management information systems

New grads have found jobs in specialty fields such as computer systems analysis, data processing, decision support systems, and software engineering.

Average annual salary offer: $54,372

-- Find Management Information Systems jobs

10. Logistics and materials management

Job openings can be found in any company where there is a need to manage and coordinate the day-to-day movement of raw materials and other resources.

Average annual salary offer: $50,602

Find Logistics/Materials Management jobs

11. Economics

Many economics majors do not go on to become practicing economists but rather find niches in accounting, general business, government, financial services, banking, education or journalism.

Average annual salary offer: $54,634

-- Find Economics jobs

As the saying goes, past performance is no guarantee of future results. However, the fact that these degrees have all remained in demand through several years of weak job growth should provide confidence that they'll still be in demand for the foreseeable future.

Next:Companies Now Hiring

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Larry Buhl researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

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