Generation Z or Gen Z for short – they have been called the “Selfie Generation,” “iGen,” “Post-Millennials,” the “App Generation,” “TransGeneration,” “Zoomers,” and “the Global Generation.” Generation Z’s most defining feature is growing up in a post-internet world or after the invention of the Internet. The internationally recognized business Amazon.com launched on July 16, 1995. So, Amazon is older than any person in Generation Z. These digital natives are either preparing to enter college in the next few years or have already enrolled.
The Best Degrees for Gen Z are in Growing Fields and Offer Financial Stability
Generation Z is unmistakably the most creative and diverse generation yet. Instant access to information has dramatically influenced how Gen Z does everything from socializing to shopping. They are similar to their Millennial predecessors in some ways but also very different. These savvy shoppers are willing to shop around to find a good affordable education and look for degrees in fields that ensure success and financial stability.
Who is in the Generation Z Age Group?
Depending on your source, the years that define Generation Z may differ. But, the widely accepted definition by the Pew Research Center uses 1996 as the last birth year for Millennials. Individuals born between 1981 and 1996 are considered Millennials. The new generation after Millennials starts in the year 1997 and stops in 2012.
|Generation Y||1981 to 1996||Millennials|
|Generation Z||1997 to 2012||Gen Z|
|Generation A||2013 to 2025||Generation Alpha|
This next-generation after Millennials is Generation Z. Generation Alpha refers to individuals born between 2012 and 2025 and is the generation after Gen Z and the first to be born entirely in the 21st century.
What are Gen Z’s Demographics?
A defining characteristic of Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is its racial and ethnic diversity. These digital natives are the most diverse generation yet, with only a slight majority of Gen Z being white (52%). The US Census Bureau predicts that by 2026 this will change, and most of the United States population will be nonwhite.
They are more racially diverse, but many are also first-generation Americans. The Pew Research center says that Gen Z students are more likely to be the children of immigrants than their predecessors.
What Challenges Gen Z Students?
A sad characteristic of Generation Z is the abundance of mental health challenges. Already referred to pre-pandemic as the “loneliest generation,” this generation has been deeply affected by gun violence at school, police brutality, global warming, the inability to escape the 24/7 social media feed, and now a worldwide pandemic. Few generations have encountered such high levels of maintained stress.
What Will Work Look Like for Generation Z?
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world as we knew it to a standstill, what emerged was an unprecedented use of technology for work, school, and just about everything. Americans were already on this trajectory course, but the pandemic hit the fast-forward button. Previous generations of Americans had clearly defined places and roles – home, school, and work.
The entire world for Gen Z has become less defined and more of a continuum. The lines between work and home or school and home are hard to determine and sometimes non-existent. The increased flexibility to work from anywhere with an internet connection means more individuals are working more hours a day or different hours during the day.
But this flexibility also has benefits. Working from home will also impact where workers live and enable workers to move from expensive urban areas to smaller, more affordable towns and cities. A potential move back to smaller cities and towns could positively impact the quality of life for Gen Z and the environment. Gen Zers who move out of cities will potentially be able to have a lower cost of living and more time to enjoy life.
What are the Most Needed Job Skills for the Future and Generation Z?
The best jobs for the future Gen Z workers have skillsets different from the traditional employment market. Technology has made finding information available to everyone. Future jobs will need workers to solve problems. The future of employment is firmly entrenched, not so much what workers know, but their ability to find information and how well they can adapt to new situations.
Education Weekly reported the future job market will demand two main types of skillsets – technological skills and social and emotional skills. An example of the technical skills needed is coding. Being able to foster inclusiveness, resolve conflict, and motivate different personalities are examples of the types of social and emotional skills required to build relationships and lead teams.
How will Higher Education Change to Adapt to Generation Z?
The desire to go to college is still intact for most Gen Z students. However, they have little desire to get into significant debt from student loans. Gone are the days of changing majors five times – Gen Z cannot afford it! We will see more Gen Z students leaving high school, taking jobs, and working before deciding on a career. Many will take a gap year to work, save money, stay out of debt, and learn some valuable insights into what career path they may want to pursue.
Many colleges and universities already got the memo and are adapting to meet the needs of the current students. Private institutions in many states have online programs and offer robust student aid packages to entice students to their schools. States like Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia have smaller schools that compete with their state counterparts. Additionally, a trend in Ivy League schools to offer free tuition to students under certain income thresholds is also a game-changer.
Once they decide on a career, Gen Z will likely work their way through a degree path like climbing a ladder one rung at a time. As Gen Z students approach college more cautiously, the schools will respond by offering more certifications, micro degrees, and stackable credentials that can give Gen Z an immediate return on their investment from a pay increase or new job.
Best Degrees for Gen Z Guidelines
This list is not exhaustive. Individuals exploring college degree options are encouraged to further research the career they want to pursue. In selecting the Best Degrees for Generation Z, we examined the intersection of :
- Good job growth and salary potential
- Generation Z’s values and lifestyle
- Which careers will endure and be the best jobs for the future
Best Computer & Information Science Degrees for Gen Z.
We are all using the Internet more and more for everything in our lives. It makes sense that employment in the field of computer and information science is growing fast. Driven by the increased collection of data and cloud storage, and an increased need for information security, overall employment in computer occupations will grow 11% percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
The Best Degrees for Gen Z students choosing majors in computer and information science will relate to cybersecurity and software development jobs, two of the fastest-growing careers. Information Systems Managers and Database Administrators/Architects are also growing much faster than average. Most of the jobs have entry-level positions available with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Additionally, students can increase their earning potential with a concentration or nano degree in specializations like robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), data analysis, or cybersecurity.
|Information/Cyber Security Analysts||31% (Much faster than average)|
|Software Developers||22% (Much faster than average)|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||10% (Much faster than average)|
|Database Administrators and Architects||10% (Much faster than average)|
- Cybersecurity Associate Degree
- Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree
- Cybersecurity Master’s Degree
- IT Bachelor’s Degree
- Data Science Master’s Degrees
- Top A.I. Programs
Best Art & Design Degrees for Gen Z.
For Gen Z students interested in art and design, the best degrees for employment in this field are at the intersection of art, design, and technology. All of the TV, film, and internet content we consume must be created, designed, and produced. As the consumption of content increases, so will the demand for employment in the fields that make it.
Web Developers, Digital Designers, Special Effects Artists or Animators, and Film and Video Editors are jobs that design and create websites, mobile apps, TV shows, commercials, films, and video games. Web Developers often have a Bachelor’s degree in computer science. Special effects artists and animators usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics or animation. Film and video editors typically have a bachelor’s degree in film, broadcasting, or communications. In addition to a degree, experience and a portfolio are key components to showing employers the technical skills required for most jobs.
Employment for Web Developers and Digital Designers is growing much faster than average and is expected to increase 8% between 2019 and 2029. Work for Special Effects Artists or Animators is growing as fast as average, with employment expected to increase 4% between 2019 and 2029. Employment for Film and Video Editors is also increasing at a much faster than average rate, with employment expected to grow 18% between 2019 and 2029.
|Film and Video Editors||18% (Much faster than average)|
|Web Developers||8% (Much faster than average)|
|Digital Designers||8% (Much faster than average)|
|Animators and Special Effects Artists||4% (As fast as average)|
Other fast-growing fields are Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI), and UX/UI Design. These jobs integrate design and function for the interactions between humans and technology. They make things look nice and function intuitively.
- Top 10 Online Associate in Graphic Design
- What Jobs Can I Do With An Associate in Graphic Design?
- 5 Best Community College Radio Stations
- Top 10 Online Animation Degrees
- How Do I Become an Animator?
Best Environmental Degrees for Gen Z.
Gen Z students who want careers that will positively impact the environment while earning a good salary will be excited about the fastest-growing environmental jobs. Increased concern about the environment because of global warming and population growth has increased the number of jobs that preserve and protect the environment.
- Agriculture Associate Degrees
- Sustainable Energy Associate Degrees
- Sustainable Energy Bachelor’s Degrees
- Solar Energy Technicians
- Wind Energy Technicians
Environmental Scientists protect human health and the environment and work to clean up polluted areas, reduce waste, or advise policymakers. Jobs for Environmental Scientists will grow faster than average and increase by 8% from 2019 to 2029.
Other growing jobs include Urban Planners who work to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly communities and Geoscientists who study the physical aspects of the Earth. Additionally, society needs more Hydrologists to ensure we have clean water and Food Scientists to maintain a stable food supply.
|Urban and Regional Planners||11% (Much faster than average)|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||8% (Much faster than average)|
|Agricultural and Food Scientists||6% (Faster than average)|
|Geoscientists||5% (Faster than average)|
|Hydrologists||5% (Faster than average)|
Best Counseling & Psychology Degrees for Gen Z
Many Gen Zers struggle with mental health challenges. Because of the increased need for counselors, increased awareness and acceptance of mental health, and an increase in the overall population, future employment in counseling fields is expected to increase. Most counselors need a Master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or social work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, employment will increase by 25% by 2029. Work for Marriage and Family Therapists will grow 22% by 2029.
Other specialized degrees in the psychology and counseling fields have emerged. Colleges are beginning to offer degrees in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Sports Psychology, and certifications in specializations like Adventure Therapy. Students with a certificate or specialization beyond the primary degree can increase their earning potential.
|Mental Health Counselors||25% (Much faster than average)|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||22% (Much faster than average)|
Best Social Science Degrees for Gen Z
Practical and tech-savvy Gen Zers tend to be attracted to the dependability of a STEM degree. However, the social science and humanities degrees can still offer great careers. Jobs seeing a much higher than average rate of employment growth include Social Workers (13%), Community Service Managers (17%), and Health Educators (13%).
Gen Z students who want to work in these fields to promote public health and community wellbeing will need excellent social and emotional skills. Degrees in the social sciences are also common prerequisites for a Master’s Degree in Human Resources, MBA, or Law school.
|Community Service Managers||17% (Much faster than average)|
|Social Workers||13% (Much faster than average)|
|Health Educators||13% (Much faster than average)|
- Social Work Bachelor’s Degree
- Social Work Master’s Degrees
- Public Health Master’s Degrees
- Emergency Management Bachelor’s Degree
- Emergency Management Master’s Degree
Best Math Degrees for Gen Z.
Math – the M in STEM – is the language of science and the foundation needed to understand the other STEM subjects. If you are looking for solid job security and a good salary, few degree choices are more reliable than a degree in mathematics. Overall, employment in mathematics jobs is expected to increase by 27% from 2019-2029, much faster than average (MFTA).
The fast-growing math occupations include Data Scientists and Statisticians (33% MFTA), Operations Research Analysts (25%), Actuaries (18%), and Economists (14% MFTA). All of these fields use math and statistics to analyze and solve problems. Operations Research Analysts evaluate business decision-making. Actuaries use financial theories to analyze risk and Economists estimate economic issues. A mathematics degree offers the flexibility to work a well-paying job in many fields.
|Statisticians and Data Scientists||33% (Much faster than average)|
|Operations Research Analysts||25% (Much faster than average)|
|Actuaries||18% (Much faster than average)|
|Economists||14% (Much faster than average)|
|Accountants and Auditors||4% (As fast as average)|
- Data Analytics Bachelor’s Degrees
- Data Analytics Master’s Degrees
- Accounting Associate Degrees
- Accounting Bachelor’s Degrees
- Accounting Master’s Degrees
Best Healthcare Degrees for Gen Z.
The healthcare field has had a steady employment boom for many years. Two jobs outpacing almost all others in growth are Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, with average growth rates of 45% and 31%, respectively. Both roles will require you to have a master’s level degree. Employment of Health Service Managers is projected to grow 32% percent from 2019 to 2029. Health Services Managers oversee medical practices, hospitals, and senior facilities.
|Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse-Midwives||45% (Much faster than average)|
|Physician Assistants||31% (Much faster than average)|
|Health Service Manager||32% (Much faster than average)|
- Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degrees
- Nursing Diploma for Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Nursing Associate Degrees (ADN)
- Nursing Bachelor’s Degrees (BSN)
- Nursing Master’s Degrees (MSN)
- Forensic Nursing Master’s Degrees
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Health Science Bachelor’s Degrees
- Health Science Master’s Degrees
- Public Health Master’s Degrees (MPA)
Best Criminal Justice & Law Degrees for Gen Z.
Most of the job growth in criminal justice fields is developing at the intersection of criminal justice, science, and technology. Cyber Security is one of the fastest-growing criminal justice and computer science specializations. This field deals with the prevention and investigation of internet crimes and is expected to grow by 31% by 2029. Forensic Science Technicians support criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing physical evidence like DNA. They can work in the lab or the field, traveling to crime scenes to collect evidence. Employment for Forensic science technicians is growing much faster than average at 14% between 2019 and 2029.
For Gen Z students interested in the Law, there will always be a need for Lawyers, but the field is growing as fast as average. However, Arbitrators and Mediator employment is expected to grow much faster than the average by 8% from 2019 to 2029. Arbitration and Mediation are used for alternative dispute resolution. The process is quicker and less expensive than a trial or litigation. Many contracts have clauses requiring disputes to be decided through arbitration or Mediation. Most Arbitrators and Mediators have degrees in Law or degrees in business, along with industry-specific experience.
- Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degrees
- Criminal Justice Master’s Degrees
- Forensic Science Bachelor’s Degree
- Forensic Science Master’s Degree
- Best Degrees for the FBI
- Best Degrees for Law School
- Best Degrees for Mediation
Best Business & Management Degrees for Gen Z.
Business degrees have been a popular degree choice for decades. Practical Gen Z students will find a degree in Business, Management, or Administration can lead to many career paths in marketing, finance, data analytics, accounting, human resources, and many more. It is also an excellent choice for Gen Z students to plan to earn an MBA degree. Many schools now offer a five-year bachelor’s degree plus an MBA degree program where students can earn an undergraduate and graduate degree in business on an accelerated path. It can give students a head start and offer substantial savings since they are not paying for an additional year of school.
The jobs in business, management, and administration growing much faster than average include Operations Research Analyst, Market Research Analyst, Management Analyst, Financial Managers. and Supply Chain Managers. Human Resource Specialists are also growing faster than average.
|Market Research Analysts||18% (Much faster than average)|
|Financial Managers||15% (Much faster than average)|
|Management Analysts||11% (Much faster than average)|
|Human Resources Specialists||7% (Faster than average)|
|Supply Chain Managers||4% (As fast as average)|
- Business Associate Degrees
- Business Bachelor’s Degrees
- Business Master’s Degrees (MBA)
- Management Master’s Degrees
- Supply Chain Management Bachelor’s Degrees
- Supply Chain Management Master’s Degrees
- Best Degrees for Real Estate Careers
Best Education, Training, and Library Degrees for Gen Z.
Employment in education, training and library occupations is projected to grow faster than the average for all jobs and increase 5% from 2019 to 2029. The two fast-growing jobs in education and training are Postsecondary Teachers and Training and Development Managers.
Gen Z students will continue to seek higher education for the knowledge and skills needed to meet career and financial goals. Colleges, universities, and community colleges expect attendance to increase over the next decade as the population grows steadily. Employment of Postsecondary Teachers is projected to grow 9% from 2019 to 2029, making this a practical career path for Gen Z students. Postsecondary teachers need at least a master’s degree to teach. A great choice for Gen Z students on this path is to start climbing the ladder with a bachelor’s degree in education and move on to a master’s degree in education.
Training and Development Managers are basically teachers in the workplace. They coordinate skill development and knowledge-enhancement programs for a company’s employees. As businesses and organizations look to keep their workforce up to date on current skills, these jobs will continue to grow. Training and development manager employment is expected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029.
Employment of Librarians and Library Media Specialists is also expected to grow faster than average at 5% percent from 2019 to 2029. The traditional role of the librarian will continue in schools and public libraries. Like many other fields, the area of growth is at the intersection of technology and library science. Library Science is growing to partner with Information Science, creating new roles like Digital Librarian and degrees in Digital Library Science. This field is not just books anymore! It includes databases and digital collections of all different media formations. For Gen Z students interested n technology and library science, there is still a great career path in Library Science.
|Postsecondary Teachers||9% (Much faster than average)|
|Archivists||8% (Much faster than average)|
|Training and Development Managers||7% (Faster than average)|
|Instructional Coordinators||6% (Faster than average)|
|Librarians and Library Media Specialists||5% (Faster than average)|
Best Engineering Degrees for Gen Z.
Gen Z students interested in engineering should look at the fastest growing engineering jobs. Industrial Engineer employment is growing faster than the average rate of 10%. Industrial engineers find ways to produce a product or service more efficiently, control costs, and eliminate wastefulness in production processes. Industrial engineers engage in activities that are useful to various businesses, governments, and nonprofits. The versatility of their skill set allows them to work in a variety of different areas.
Mechanical Engineers and Health and Safety Engineers are two other engineering jobs growing as fast as average, or 4%. Mechanical engineers develop and build and thermal sensors and mechanical devices. Health and safety engineers combine engineering knowledge and health and safety. They design systems and procedures to protect property from damage and protect people from illness and injury
|Industrial Engineers||10% (Much faster than average)|
|Mechanical Engineers||4% (As fast as average)|
|Health and Safety Engineers||4% (As fast as average)|
Best Media & Communication Degrees for Gen Z.
Media and communication employment is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand will come from the need to create, edit, translate, and disseminate information through a variety of different platforms.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment for interpreters and translators to grow 20 percent by 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language and should be fluent in English and a second language. They also need strong verbal and written skills. Translators are needed in various settings, like healthcare and government, and can work remotely via video or telephone.
Technical Writers and Public Relations Specialists are two other jobs growing faster than average. Writers create instruction manuals, guides, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. Public relations specialists help create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization or individual they represent. The employment of technical writers and public relations specialists is expected to grow faster than average at a rate of 7% percent between 2019 and 2029. The need for organizations to maintain their public image will continue to drive employment growth.
|Interpreters and Translators||20% (Much faster than average)|
|Technical Writers||7% (Faster than average)|
|Public Relations Specialists||7% (Faster than average)|