04/23/2012 02:37 pm ET Updated Apr 25, 2012

The Best 8 Jobs For Recent College Graduates: Report

There's good news for this year's college graduates: They should fare better in the job market than the class of 2011.

The 1.7 million college seniors about to graduate this year can expect an increase in job opportunities as businesses will likely ramp up hiring for entry-level positions this year, according to a new report by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Finance, engineering and computer science are among the fields that are projected to experience a growth rate of 20 percent or higher and gain 50,000 or more jobs in the next couple of years.

The projected increase in hiring comes as young people are suffering disproportionately in a weak labor market. Half of young college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed, according to the Associated Press.

Since the most recent employment gains were reportedly in low-paying jobs such as retail and temporary work, the new indication that firms are hiring in higher-paying positions appears especially promising.

Despite the improved outlook, the rate of job growth for recent grads since the recovery is slowing down. Employers are planning to hire 10 percent more spring graduates this year compared to 2011, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. But that is lower than the 21 percent increase in expected hiring during 2011 over the class of 2010.

And, not all college graduates will have an equal shot in the job market. What students majored in college really does matter. Many of the positions experiencing the largest amount of projected growth are in fields relating to mathematics or computer science. Furthermore, Challenger's analysis comes amid other reports that wage inequality between college majors is increasing. The earnings of math, science and computer science students on their first jobs have grown five times the rate of humanities students' salaries.

Here are college graduates' best bets for entry-level positions: