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Prepare for Indeed’s Top Jobs of 2024

Theresa Schempp
By Theresa Schempp

This year,®1 released projections for the “Best Jobs of 2024”, specifically including jobs with a salary minimum of $75,000 and ones that offered the flexibility of hybrid or remote work. At University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), students can earn degrees that help prepare them for some of this year’s in-demand jobs. There are multiple UMGC programs that may help prepare you for these valued positions, so you can select a degree that best matches your interests and goals.

1. Loan Officer (Commercial)

A bachelor’s degree in finance could help prepare you for the position of loan officer, who helps people and businesses acquire the proper loan from banks or other lenders. Loan officers incorporate key elements needed in banking, like researching and analyzing clients' financial situation and goals, to make decisions on lending. This program is also designed for students to prepare for industry certifications including the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exams. Some skills students learn that apply to the job position of loan officer include underwriting, preparing pro-forma financial statements, and assessing risk of an enterprise.

“Our courses address assessing risk, utilizing tools for analysis and making strong financial decisions,” says Jim Falter, department chair for accounting, finance, and economics at UMGC. “For instance, our classes thoroughly cover capital budgeting techniques.  This, along with an understanding of financial statements are important elements to the profession.”

For students who wish to enhance their expertise and pursue positions such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), portfolio manager, or investments officer, they could advance their education with a master’s in accounting and financial management or a master’s in management with a finance concentration

2. Mental Health Therapist

This year's list of the 25 best jobs included six jobs related to mental health, which is three times as many as were listed two years ago. A mental health therapist treats patients dealing with behavioral disorders and mental health issues and therapists can specialize in areas like couples and family therapy, grief and trauma, multicultural issues, and more. With a high demand for mental health professionals, the master’s in clinical professional counseling can help students meet the needs of this growing job market.

The master’s in clinical professional counseling intentionally prepares learners for careers as mental health therapists. It equips learners with the knowledge, skills, and practical training necessary to provide therapeutic interventions and support for individuals dealing with various mental health issues and life challenges. In this program, students gain the skills needed for this position through a combination of comprehensive coursework, practical experience, and preparation for licensure.

“The program equips learners with the skills and knowledge necessary to become ethical, multiculturally competent, and evidence-informed practitioners in the field of professional counseling,” says Phyllis Medina, portfolio director of psychology at UMGC. “Learners hone skills directly applicable to work as mental health therapists, including ethical decision-making, professional communications, assessment and diagnosis, intervention and prevention, crisis counseling, and self-care and advocacy.”

Upon completing a master's in clinical professional counseling and fulfilling any additional state-specific licensing requirements, students can pursue licensure such as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). With this licensure, graduates are qualified to work as therapists in various settings, including private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, community agencies, and other healthcare organizations.

“Licensing requirements vary by state or country, so those interested in becoming therapists should familiarize themselves with the specific regulations and licensure processes in the location where they plan to practice,” says Medina.

For fall 2024, this program is only available to Maryland residents. Additional program admission requirements also apply.

3. Human Resources Manager

A human resources (HR) manager is responsible for the administrative and organizational functions of a company. They often perform a wide range of tasks, including recruiting, employee relations, communication, professional development and more. To prepare for the job position of a human resources (HR) manager, students could choose from multiple degrees: bachelor’s in HR management, master’s in management with an HR concentration, and an MBA with a specialization in HR. Each of these degrees provides students with the expertise to assist organizations in human resources and employee relations.

The bachelor’s in HR management gives students the opportunity to participate in a program that looks for innovative ways of applying project-based curriculum to the degree. The program is aligned with SHRM’s industry-proven and verified SHRM Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge (SHRM BASK). Skills that students can learn include Human Resource Information System (HRIS) proficiency, employee law and labor relations, talent acquisition, training and development, and organizational change management.

“In this program, we look for ways to use case study analysis, and technology that synthesize real-world scenarios, to provide students with creative ways of learning HR management theories while building networks and collaborating with their peers,” says Freda Powell-Bell, portfolio director of human resources at UMGC. “Students will be well prepared to meet the ever-evolving challenges of a diverse workforce and assist their business partners in making workforce decisions that meet the mission and goals of their organizations.”

The master’s in management with an HR concentration takes a holistic approach to HR management and provides students with the practical management skills needed not only to advance in the HR field, but to also be successful in their chosen disciplines. In addition to HR-related skills, students can also develop soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, strategic decision-making, communication, interpersonal and organizational skills.

“Managing employees has become more complex, and due to external factors more people are leaving the workforce. In addition, employers are faced with new challenges of managing a multigenerational and multiculturally diverse workforce,” says Powell-Bell. “With these dynamics in play, businesses and companies in several industries are looking for HR business partners who are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and abilities to help them navigate these challenging times.”

An MBA with an HR specialization may be an ideal degree for HR professionals who wish to broaden their knowledge of business administration beyond their core expertise in HR and position themselves for a senior leadership role. Also, in UMGC’s MBA program, these HR professionals will enhance their knowledge by completing nine credits of coursework in HR topics such as employee and labor relations and managing a global team.

“An individual being promoted to the position of Human Resource Manager is likely to be someone who also has a broad understanding of business functions such as finance, marketing and analytics,” says Powell-Bell. “These professionals and their skills within these various fields help enable the HR functions in an organization.”

4. Data Engineer

A data engineer builds systems to collect, manage, and convert raw data into usable information so that organizations can use it to evaluate and optimize their performance. Students interested in becoming data engineers could pursue a bachelor’s in data science from UMGC.

In this program, students learn how to build and maintain robust data infrastructure, enabling organizations to derive valuable insights from their data. Students have opportunity to gain hands-on experience with data manipulation, data lakes and warehousing technologies, SQL skills and experience with relational and NoSQL databases, big data technologies like Hadoop, Spark, Python programming, managing data infrastructure and services in AWS, and Google cloud.

“Data Engineers often encounter challenges related to data quality, performance, and scalability,” says Elena Gortcheva, portfolio director of data analytics at UMGC. “Strong problem-solving skills are crucial for troubleshooting and resolving issues efficiently and are key elements in this program.”

Students who wish to advance in their education and career as a data engineer can also earn a master’s in data analytics, which is designed with input from leading employers and prepares professionals with hands-on experience, skills, and knowledge today’s employers need. 

“Many of our faculty members are active or former professionals in industry, government, and non-profit organizations and bring their knowledge, experience, and expertise to the classroom,” says Gortcheva. “Students in this program will have the ability to integrate data from disparate sources, including APIs, databases, and file systems, ensuring data consistency and quality.”

In both programs, students learn many skills that can directly apply to the job position of data engineer, including coding, data analysis, problem solving, communication, and the development and use of databases and data warehouses, machine learning models, and artificial intelligence applications.

5. Supply Chain Specialist

A supply chain specialist manages the day-to-day supply chain operations of an organization, including the transportation and storage of goods between the manufacturer and the consumer, to ensure they are efficiently and effectively achieving the company’s goals.

With a master’s in acquisition and contract management, students learn to navigate ongoing demands for the implementation of performance-based contracts and competitive sourcing, skills that can help them succeed as a supply chain specialist. The program is designed for students interested in careers in government and commercial organizations across different industries.

“Use of models and tools in this program, such as SCM Globe , provides students with an opportunity to apply their supply chain knowledge in simulated real-world scenarios,” says Rudy Watson, department chair of business management programs at UMGC. “This includes a comprehensive view of supply chain, from planning and material sourcing to unit production and product distribution.”

Important skills for this position that students learn in the program include communications, critical thinking, leadership, logistics, reverse logistics, sustainability, and resilience.

“The focus of the master’s in acquisition and contract management is to help students gain the skills required for multiple current career opportunities as well as ensuring students are positioned for changes in future job titles and responsibilities,” says Watson.

To further prepare students as they enter the job market, UMGC offers current students and alumni easy access to career-related support and resources. Through lifetime career services, students can attend online job fairs, gain career planning tips from advisors, search job and internship listings, and learn how they can make their resume and cover letters stand out to employers.

1 “Indeed” is a registered trademark of Indeed, Inc. Indeed does not endorse UMGC or its programs mentioned in the article.

Reference on this webpage to any third-party entity or product does not constitute or imply endorsement by UMGC nor does it constitute or imply endorsement of UMGC by the third party.