Nowadays, a college degree is increasingly important in the job market. While being in college can be hard in many ways, financially, personally, socially or physically, having a degree can become your best asset when looking for a top job in a competitive industry. Many studies have pointed out that college graduates may earn up to 75 percent more than high school graduates. And the benefits aren’t tied just to the financial aspect. The friends, connections that you make through different extracurricular activities, clubs and fraternities will help you tremendously during your future career. But a vital question arises for the college graduate: Does your grades matter when choosing a career? Will your future employers care about the long hours that you spent in the library or the all night studying sessions? What does your GPA tell you about your career possibilities?
Here is a list detailing some of the most sought after careers and the grades they require:
1. Pharmaceutical industry jobs
Large pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline or Merck generally recruit college graduates right off the campus for some of their positions. These include chemists, biochemists, physicists and other science majors. Many human resources managers in the pharmaceutical industry recommend students to include their GPAs and a complete description of their extracurricular activities on their resume for better chances. When it comes to grades, GPAs over 3.0 are essential for the top companies and for better positions, a minimum of 3.3 is advisable.
2. Business, investment banking and financial jobs
These sectors are commonly regarded as some of the most competitive when it comes to the possible career choices for college graduates. Top financial companies in New York, Boston or Chicago look for high GPAs and prefer degrees from top universities, such as the Ivy League. According to a study by U.S. News and World Report, the top business schools in the Ivy League require a GPA of 3.6. Also, the top employers in the field require a minimum of 3.5 for their top positions. Many human resource managers look for a detailed transcript of the college grades, paying a special attention to the financial program grades, as well as mathematics and other related subjects. According to Trudy Steinfeld, director of the Wasserman Center for Career Development (New York University), top financial companies look at GPAs as a predictor of future job performance and will scrutinize every candidate, picking the one with the best grades.
3. Law jobs
Like most business and finance companies, top law firms look for the best candidates, and love students who graduated from the top law schools in the country. Top law graduate schools, like Yale, Harvard or Princeton require a minimum GPA of 3.9 to even have a chance of enrollment. After graduating, the employers may start recruiting directly on campus, but they require a transcript including the grades. Sarah Zearfoss, assistant dean for admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, says that some law firms will overlook a candidate if the GPA is low, even if he or she graduated from a reputable law school. She adds that some law schools require a GPA of only 2.0 to pass, but a graduate will have a hard time finding a job in a law firm with that score.
4. Medical jobs
Top medical schools require strict application requirements when it comes to GPA scores and some graduates will find out that their grades also matter when they look for a job. The courses required to apply for medical school include advanced science, chemistry, physics and biology and may take two years. During this time, students can bump up their low GPAs (from 2.0 to 3.0) and increase their career possibilities. Top university and research hospitals require excellent resumes, including high grades in medical school (GPAs higher than 3.3), extensive extracurricular activities, and reference letters from established professionals.
5. Machinery and equipment industry jobs
Top manufacturing corporations like General Motors, Caterpillar, Ford or John Deere have thousands of job openings every year for mechanical engineering students. Tim Luzader, career head officer at Purdue, points out that these international corporations look at GPAs as thresholds to manage their recruitment process. They look for good students, having extensive extracurricular activities and GPAs of over 3.0 for the best opportunities.
6. Audit and professional services jobs
The Big Four companies in this business sector, Ernst&Young, Pricewaterhousecoopers, KPMG and Deloitte have more than 20,000 employees worldwide and are the leaders in the industry. The audit and professional services jobs offered by them have strict requirements when it comes to grades. Usually, they firstly offer an internship program, followed by a firm job offer. Pricewaterhousecoopers requires a minimum GPA of 3.4, Ernst&Young a minimum of 3.2, while KPMG and Deloitte want to see a minimum GPA of 3.0 for their future employees. Dan Black, the director of recruiting at Ernst&Young adds that he looks for other special abilities and achievements when deciding who will be hired. A student with a GPA of just 2.1 could get a job at Ernst&Young if he has good reasons for his lagging grades, or if he had relevant extracurricular experience.
Jobs in the engineering industry are some of the most sought after, mainly because of the high wages and extensive career growth possibilities. Students looking for employment in this sector must understand that some top companies look for high GPAs. Many companies evaluate prospective employees based on their GPAs, extracurricular activities and other factors, to determine whether they will become good engineers. The career planning department of Virginia Tech recommends students a minimum GPA of 3.0 for most engineering jobs, but a minimum of 3.5 for top engineering firms.
8. Computer and electronic engineering
Hardware computer engineering jobs are extremely popular because of their attractive salaries and career growth possibilities. Major electronics companies have fruitful relationships with important technology universities and recruit their employees directly on campus, usually during the college years, as internships. Students are advised to have a high GPA for the top positions (higher than 3.0), but depending on their previous experience, the GPA can be even lower (2.0).
9. Psychology and human studies jobs
The human studies and social sector provides endless career choices for students. Psychology students generally aim for therapist, rehabilitation specialist, psychiatric technician and many others. Generally, many healthcare institutions that hire these specialists require a minimum GPA of 2.5 for lower positions or 3.0 for specialized therapy positions. Many institutions and agencies look for students with experience in health or day care centers, social work and internships.
10. Google software engineer
One of the companies that doesn’t look at GPA scores is Google, a global leader in the online industry, offering thousands of positions every year. Laszlo Bock, vice president of human resources at Google, points out that test scores, GPAs and interviews are basically worthless in the recruitment process. Therefore, software engineers at Google are evaluated on a series of online presence tests, their online social media profiles and other factors. Google has even abandoned their famous difficult interview, featuring almost impossible questions and puzzles, saying that it is irrelevant when it comes to employee performance. Google executives motivate this decision by saying that the school environment is intrinsically different from the work environment.