• “Weather Analysis and Forecasting,” Western Connecticut State University. The only school in the region with a meteorology bachelor’s program, WestConn could be that first stop on the road to the green-screen glamour of TV weather forecasting. If you can deal with the on-camera chit-chat as well as the on-site storm reporting, when that big-league break comes, the outlook will be sunny indeed.
• Engineering. Take your pick of a school or a program: chemical, computer, aerospace, industrial, mechanical, animal, mineral, vegetable — they’re all good, according to CNN/Money magazine. Not only do applied-science degrees lock down a starting salary of at least $50K, but it’s going up. In 2005, offers for engineering-technology grads rose by more than four percent from the previous year; industrial engineers saw their starting salary increase by nearly twice that much, CNN/Money reported.
• “Introduction to Health-Care Delivery,” Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. As they steamrolled through US demographics charts over the past 60 years or so, baby boomers have pretty much gotten what they want, from rock and roll to workplace child-care to relaxed-fit jeans. And what they want now — and for the next few decades — is pills. Lots of pills. The federal government forecasts that employment rates for pharmacists will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. Even now, average annual salaries are nudging their way toward the six-figure mark.
• “Anesthesia in the Clinical Setting,” Harvard Medical School. When it comes to raw earning potential, nothing beats an MD. Doctors routinely rule the top half-dozen spots on best-paid-jobs lists; however, which specialty comes out on top depends on the survey. We’ll tip our cap to anesthesiology, a profession not only honored with a funky little memorial on Boston Common but with an annual average income of $180,000-plus.
• “Adventures in Veterinary Medicine,” Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. With starting annual salaries of $50,000, and some topping $100,000 over a career, vets can earn some serious scratch. Factor in stats showing that employment of veterinarians is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2008, and this exploratory session from Tufts looks like a good way to check out the ground floor.
• “Binocular Vision and Ocular Motility,” New England College of Optometry. Outside the State College of Optometry in New York, NECO is the only optometry school that’s set up shop in the Northeast. It remains to be seen if that’ll be enough to accommodate the optometry students looking to get in on the baby-boom boom (see pharmacists, above), and the accompanying robust salaries. According to the American Optometric Association, median net annual income for all optometrists, including the self-employed, was $114,000 in 2004; the middle 50 percent earned between $84,000 and $166,000. And, yes, you’re seeing that correctly.
• “History of Food I,” Metropolitan College at Boston University. Fancy yourself the next Julia Child? Get started on the road to celeb-chefdom with this survey of all things edible, the initial semester of a year-long course treating food history in a global perspective. It’s a core requirement in the school’s first-in-the-nation gastronomy master’s — a degree program founded by none other than Child herself.