The Highest-Paying College Majors, Top Jobs in 2023 and Who's Hiring Right Now

This was adapted from CNBC's Work It newsletter on LinkedIn about all things work — from how to land the job to how to succeed in your career. (Click here to subscribe.)

Who's hiring right now?

That may seem like an odd question with all the headlines about layoffs and projections for a slowdown. But the labor market is like a two-sided coin: Layoffs tallied about 100,000 in January, according to a recent report. But at the same time, employers added 517,000 jobs last month, nearly three times what analysts had expected.

It's all part of what David Kelly, chief global strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management, calls the "legacy of weirdness" that the Covid-19 pandemic left behind in the economy.

"It's upended all of our lives. You were having this extraordinary excess demand for workers throughout last year and going into this year; that means that it's very hard to judge labor market dynamics from here," Kelly said.

For example, consider that — as of December — there were two job openings for every applicant.

"There are some companies and industries who find themselves overstaffed after the pandemic and some companies and industries are desperately trying to restaff after the pandemic," Kelly said. "You have these cross currents."

Kelly said it's important to distinguish between "tightening" and "strengthening" when it comes to the labor market.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the labor market "remains extremely tight" and is still "out of balance."

"I think the labor market is tight but growth is going to slow down significantly over the next few months," Kelly said.

Plus, there are a lot of unknowns. The pandemic introduced new factors into the equation like working from home. If that trend continues, he said, it could have a ripple effect, affecting everything from demand for motor vehicles and office space to shifting even more shopping online.

"I think you're continuing to see a significant pickup in areas like health care and obviously some leisure and hospitality, which are really screaming to find workers," Kelly said. "[There is] less strength in financial services and technology."

So, who's hiring?

  • Boeing is planning to hire 10,000 people this year — many in manufacturing and engineering.
  • Airlines are still scrambling for pilots and a lot of airports are hiring amid a rebound in travel.
  • Chipotle is planning to hire 15,000 workers.
  • A lot of other restaurants also are hiring, gearing up for what's expected to be a busy spring season.
  • Electricians, plumbers and heating-and-air conditioning companies have struggled to retain employees.

Think of it like 'rolling recessions' — some industries will be affected more than others

If you've ever experienced rolling blackouts, where they preemptively shut off people's electricity during peak hours (it's like the crowd doing a wave at a sports event, only with losing your electricity and much less fun). you'll understand the idea of "rolling recessions" — an increasingly popular term to convey the idea that some industries will feel the pullback more than others.

(I lived in Astoria, Queens, for 10 years, where the population was growing faster than the power grid so I remember rolling blackouts all too well.)

For job seekers, that means you will have a harder time finding a job in certain industries during a time of rolling recessions, while it will be easier in other industries.

Right now, it's tougher finding a job in places like government administration, education and consumer services, where applicants outnumber job openings.

But areas where it might be easier to find a job include oil and gas, hospice and health care.

Hospitality (places like restaurants and bars) are experiencing such staffing shortages that many employers are offering pay increases to try to attract workers. Home Depot — in the retail sector — also announced a plan to raise wages in order to attract workers.

Tech jobs are still hot

Once again, if you just followed the headlines (layoffs at Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft, etc.) you would think it was a TERRIBLE time to be a tech worker.

In fact, that is not true at all. It's still a pretty great time to work in tech.

Jobs in the sector ranked among the Best Jobs for 2023, according to job site

  1. Full-stack developer
  2. Data engineer
  3. Cloud engineer
  4. Senior product manager
  5. Back-end developer

Almost half, 44%, of the top 25 jobs on that list were tech jobs.

And, it's worth noting that "working in technology" doesn't just mean working for a Big Tech name like Apple or Amazon — all sorts of companies like retail, finance and professional services need tech workers to build their businesses.

"Every company is a tech company," Kelly said.

Ooh, hey now. There's a bumper sticker. And a word of encouragement for job seekers!

"I think we still have enough demand for tech workers that they'll find positions that will use their skills," Kelly said. "I'm sure there are plenty of unfilled positions for tech workers in financial services or state and local governments. Tech workers laid off by tech companies may end up there."

What's more, all of the jobs on the list pay salaries that are above the national average.

The highest-paying jobs five years out of college

Speaking of salaries — let's go there.

When you're heading off to college all starry-eyed, you may not be thinking of your future paycheck.

(If you are, good for you! Keep up the good work.)

You might be thinking more of what your passions are — or what you're going to do with your newfound independence! You can stay up as late as you want, drink as much as you want, eat pizza, cereal or whatever you want at 2 a.m., because you are the boss of you! The magic of independence cannot be overstated. BUT, it is absolutely worth considering potential salaries before you point your fierce, independent self in any direction. I'm not saying you have to follow the highest-paying job, just that you should be aware of the financial path you are embarking on.

And by financial path, I mean one roommate … or seven.

The list of highest-paying college majors can be summed up in one word: engineering.

Ugh! My dad (an electrical engineer) was right! And no, of course, I didn't listen. (I'm a journalist.)

Eight of the top 10 highest-paying college majors five years after graduation were based in engineering, according to a recent report from the New York Federal Reserve.

Chemical engineering came in at No. 1 with a median annual salary of $75,000 shortly after college.

Computer, aerospace and electrical engineering were also in the top five.

At the bottom of the list were jobs in theology and religion, which had an average salary of $36,000 a few years after graduation — less than half of what chemical engineers make.

I think the real takeaways here are: Don't take the headlines about layoffs as an implication that everything everywhere is dire. Understand that beyond every headline there is a bigger picture. Understand that not all industries are affected equally. And finally, just be aware of your own personal numbers — like potential salary. No one is saying you have to be a doctor or a lawyer. (Or by today's lesson, an engineer.) But, just know what you're getting into and the choices you are making. And that doesn't just go for your starting salary — that goes for every step of the way along the path in your career.

Want to find out who's hiring right now? Click on the "Jobs" tab on LinkedIn (at the top of the page).

You can search for jobs by title, skill or company. It will give you some suggested searches. Plus, you'll find jobs that are recommended for you (one of my recommendations was for managing editor of "The Canine Review" — a dream job writing about doggos! And it's a hybrid position so you can write about doggos while you're at home WITH your doggo. *MINDBLOWN*), plus jobs where you're a top applicant and some jobs that you might have missed. It's an easy way to start browsing. You can also set up alerts for jobs and get some guidance on your job search — like tips to improve your resume.

Good luck! You've got this.

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— With reporting by Leslie Josephs, Jeff Cox, Greg Iacurci , Melissa Repko and Mike Winters.

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