Little known major garners big bucks

September 23, 2009

by Taylor Stephens

As part of a recent study with www.careerbuilder.com, CNN developed a list of majors that are available to college students that most people know little about. This study was based on the number of people with common jobs and uncommon degrees. The top uncommon major was family consumer science, which CNN said teaches students about everything they need to know to make a home.

Amy Yates, the School of Human Ecology, and Tammy Harpel, an associate professor of family and child studies and a coordinator of family consumer sciences graduate program, shed light on what it means to graduate with a family consumer science degree.

“Like any other academic discipline in the university setting, family and consumer science has an organized body of knowledge from which our theories and practices are informed,” Yates said. “That body of knowledge centers solely on the relationship of families, individuals, communities and their social and cultural contexts.”

Harpel also said there is a diverse mixture of jobs available to those with a degree in human ecology.

“Depending on their majors, students can seek employment as junior high or high school family and consumer sciences teachers, family life educators, registered dieticians, retail managers, event planners, apparel designers [and so on],” Harpel said.

Brittany Bridges, a junior family consumer science major, said a degree from the School of Human Ecology will prepare her for more than just family life after college.

“[This degree] ensures that I am more prepared for internships, graduate school or to just enter the work force,” Bridges said. “I know I am being equipped with all of the skills I will need to succeed in life.”

Bridges also said having a degree from Tech will ensure a quality job experience during and after college.

“I am currently seeking a career as a [certified child life specialist],” Bridges said. “This is a very competitive field, and Tech is known for its excellent program. Child life students who graduate from Tech often go on to receive very competitive internships.”

Yates said the reason most people do not know what a human ecology major does is because it is known as different names in multiple universities.

“When one wants to be an accountant, they major in accounting,” Yates said. “Someone who may be interested in a career in merchandising may not initially know to look within the school of human ecology.”

Emily Maxwell, a freshman nutrition and dietetics major, said most people do not know the extent of the human ecology department.

“[For the males] they might consider this degree to be primarily for females, but that is really not the case,” Maxwell said. “There are a lot of males in my classes.”
Yates said she enjoys her job working in human ecology.

“For me, it means having an extremely rewarding career in which I directly and indirectly influence the lives of children, adolescents, and adults and the families and communities in which they reside,” Yates said. “The vehicle of influence for our students and faculty varies [whether] through the fashion and consumer choices of individuals [or] through the food and nutritional choices of individuals and families.”