Eduventures Summit Preview 23

How to Position Your Academic Programs Amid Mixed Economic Signals

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June 14-16, 2023 | Boston, MA

Special Keynote Session: José Andrés

Mixed economic signals can be challenging to navigate. Despite headlines trumpeting layoffs and, most recently, bank failures, most indicators still point to a hot labor market.

Jobless claims have stayed below 200,000 for seven straight weeks (as of March 9). For every unemployed person in January, there were 1.9 job openings, signaling a labor shortage in the U.S. for the first time in decades.

Eduventures has predicted no recession in 2023. With that in mind—alongside falling enrollment rates—we do not expect to see a significant uptick in student demand, particularly among adults. This means that many schools will have to work hard to meet enrollment goals.

Focus on Career Outcomes

One of the surest ways to better appeal to prospects is by providing pathways to high-impact occupations – jobs with fast growth, significant scale, and good pay. Why? Because both traditional and adult prospects are highly driven by career-oriented motivations.

In 2022, traditional-aged prospects reported that the top three expectations for college were career-aligned: “Get a good job after graduation” (57%), “Get a solid foundation for an entire career” (50%), and “Gain practical career skills” (43%). These responses were mostly consistent through the pandemic period.

Adult prospects, long driven by career-oriented expectations, only moved further in that direction over the pandemic period. In fact, the number of adults citing “enrollment motivations NOT related to career aspirations” saw the most dramatic shift. In 2019, pre-pandemic, about 15% of adult prospects selected this response. This percentage shrunk to 11% in 2020, and then to 10% in 2022, representing a 30% drop.

The Forecast for High-Impact Occupations

When looking to the future, Eduventures focuses on three key data points to bring high-impact occupations into focus: growth, scale, and wages. To identify high-impact occupations, Eduventures used the following filters among those where the typical entry-level education is a bachelor’s degree or above:

  • Growth: Occupations projected to grow faster than average between 2022-2032 (above 9%)
  • Wages: Occupations with hourly earnings above the median for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree ($33.35 hourly)
  • Scale: Occupations projected to see the highest number of job gains (sorted from highest to lowest)

Figure 1 shows the top 10 occupations in each credential bucket.

Occupation  2022-2032 New Jobs  2022-2032 Job Growth  Median Hourly Earnings 
Bachelor’s Occupations  #colspan# #colspan# #colspan#
Software Developers  374,924  25%  $58.05 
General and Operations Managers  351,953  11%  $47.10 
Registered Nurses  305,979  10%  $37.31 
Medical and Health Services Managers  132,260  28%  $48.72 
Financial Managers  120,526  16%  $63.32 
Management Analysts  113,479  14%  $44.71 
Project Management Specialists  81,540  10%  $45.43 
Computer and Information Systems Managers  60,846  12%  $76.45 
Logisticians  54,634  24%  $37.03 
Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers  52,168  25%  $47.22 
Master’s Occupations  #colspan# #colspan# #colspan#
Nurse Practitioners  108,509  42%  $58.02 
Speech-Language Pathologists  41,843  27%  $38.01 
Physician Assistants  38,555  27%  $58.43 
Occupational Therapists  22,713  17%  $41.14 
Education Administrators, Postsecondary  20,664  10%  $46.59 
Statisticians  10,737  30%  $45.95 
Computer and Information Research Scientists  7,620  21%  $63.22 
Nurse Anesthetists  6,216  13%  $94.04 
Epidemiologists  2,631  26%  $37.90 
Economists  2,320  13%  $50.79 
Doctoral Occupations  #colspan# #colspan# #colspan#
Lawyers  80,593  11%  $61.54 
Physical Therapists  45,899  19%  $45.97 
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists  21,200  17%  $45.82 
Dentists, General  12,517  11%  $77.10 
Veterinarians  11,844  14%  $48.26 
Clinical and Counseling Psychologists  8,149  13%  $39.67 
Chiropractors  6,014  16%  $36.06 
School Psychologists  5,690  10%  $37.88 
Optometrists  4,232  10%  $59.76 
Psychiatrists  3,971  14%  $100.00 

Figure 1. 2022-2032 High-Impact Occupations

Five broad occupational clusters claim multiple high-impact occupations: Health Practitioner Occupations; Management Occupations; Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations; Computer and Mathematical Occupations; and Business and Financial Operations Occupations.

The list is dominated by health practitioner jobs, with this cluster claiming 12 of the 30 high-impact occupations in Figure 2. This isn’t too surprising given both advanced degree significance in the field (11 of the 12 jobs are master’s degree occupations and above) and U.S. demographic trends. Over the next decade, while the total U.S. population is projected to grow by 4%, the 65-and-over population is projected to grow by 25% placing greater demand on our healthcare system and fueling concerns over the developing nursing shortage. In fact, three of the four bachelor’s and above nursing occupations make it through our high-impact filtering.

Apart from health, STEM-aligned occupations are also prevalent. Nine of the 30 high-impact occupations fall in the Life, Physical, and Social Science and Computer and Mathematical Occupations with jobs like epidemiologists and counseling psychologists representing the former and software developers and statisticians representing the latter. Broadening STEM to include health, known as STEM-H, reveals that 21 of the 30 high-impact occupations in Figure 2 are aligned to these fields.

The Bottom Line

With prospects clearly thinking about career pathways, schools must consistently evaluate the labor market to ensure they are positioned to meet these expectations. A red-hot labor market will discourage many from returning to school, forcing schools to make an even stronger case for why they should be considered. Clearly aligning academic pathways to the next decade’s high-impact occupations is one strategy.

The jobs featured here represent just a sliver of all high-impact occupations. Want to see more? Contact your Client Research Analyst.


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Learn more about our team of expert research analysts here.

Eduventures Senior Analyst at Encoura

Thursday, November 10th, 2022 at 2pm ET/ 1pm CT

This webinar will present parent and student price sensitivity data that explores this question. We’ll also examine the changing landscape of institutions that have initiated tuition price resets. Join us as we discuss how to understand what best-in-class tuition models will look like in the future and what practical steps institutions can take now toward that end.


The Program Strength Assessment (PSA) is a data-driven way for higher education leaders to objectively evaluate their programs against internal and external benchmarks. By leveraging the unparalleled data sets and deep expertise of Eduventures, we’re able to objectively identify where your program strengths intersect with traditional, adult, and graduate students’ values, so you can create a productive and distinctive program portfolio.

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