Every few years, some newspaper report mentions that x industry is going to be really hot in future and everyone rushes to get a place in one of those courses that they’re so sure will make them rich someday. First everyone was trying to get into computing, then at some point everyone wanted to study biomed.
Of course, making your education decisions based solely on hype is a recipe for disaster, or at least an unused degree, as all the former biomed students in banking will tell you. Still, it’s worth taking note of some of these degree courses that aren’t exactly the most popular ones out there at the moment, but could nonetheless pay great dividends somewhere down the road.
1. Southeast Asian studies
As far back as primary school, I remember people (Chinese teachers mostly) talking about how Chinese was the language of the future, etc. To be honest, while I’ve never gotten a job for being able to speak passable Mandarin, I have had to use it quite a bit at work when speaking with clients who were more comfortable conversing in the language.
But with China’s growth slowing, experts are already looking ahead to the next big thing—Southeast Asia. With Myanmar opening up, Indonesia’s new president working to make the country more friendly to foreign investors and a rising middle class in many of the other ASEAN nations, our Southeast Asian neighbours might one day leave us in the dust.
This means that Singaporeans who are fluent in Southeast Asian languages like Bahasa Indonesia or Thai and who are knowledgeable about the ASEAN region will find that their skills increasingly in demand.
Go for it if: You’re interested in international business.
2. Computing or computer engineering
If you’ve ever had a brilliant idea for a mobile app or online business but just didn’t have the technical skills to pull it off without having to hire a programmer and/or a designer, you’ll know just how useful it is to be handy with a computer.
Now that most of the world’s billionaires under 35 who didn’t inherit family money are basically tech guys whose startups made it big, there’s been a resurgence in interest in coding. It is however worth noting that programming jobs don’t pay that well in Singapore compared to many other developed countries as there is still a bit of wage depression in this field (what’s new?).
However, with the tech scene growing as fast as a teenage boy, students who dream of starting their own thing or working in the start-up scene will find taking up computing at NUS or computer engineering at NUS or NTU very helpful to them in future, although it will take some effort to keep your coding skills sharp.
Go for it if: You dream of creating your own tech start-up.
Couldn’t get into med school? You’re not alone, because getting into NUS medicine has always been insanely competitive. Now that NTU has opened Singapore’s second medical school, there might be a little more hope… but only if you have perfect grades and a glowing CCA record. Pfft.
Still, with Singapore’s population aging faster than a tanning salon addict and the total population still growing, the healthcare industry will continue to be strong. In addition, Singapore is actually pretty huge in pharmaceuticals manufacturing and medical technology. So you won’t have to worry about being jobless.
In addition, pharmacists earn above average salaries and get a fair amount of respect, all without having to go through the gruelling training that rookie medical officers are put through. A degree in pharmacy is also a professional degree, which provides more certainty than a general degree like business or arts. To many security-craving Singaporeans, this is a plus.
Go for it if: You want a stable professional job.
What degrees do you think will be useful ten years from now? Let us know in the comments!
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