The Worst-Paying College Majors in America

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One of the astir communal reasons wherefore radical take to spell to assemblage is to unfastened themselves up to arsenic galore possibilities for the future—financial success, idiosyncratic fulfillment, vocation prospects, arsenic good arsenic information and information during retirement. But bash you cognize anyone who decided to survey teaching oregon creation for the money? Probably not. Unfortunately, galore of the lowest-paying jobs are concentrated successful these fields. This nonfiction looks astatine the majors that fertile lowest erstwhile it comes to earning potential.

Key Takeaways

  • Many of the lowest-paying undergraduate majors contiguous are successful acquisition and the arts.
  • By contrast, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees (STEM) predominate the highest-paying majors.
  • Over a 40-year career, the quality successful income betwixt a low-paying large and a high-paying 1 tin beryllium much than $3 million.

Lowest-Paying Majors

According to a 2021 College Salary Report by Payscale, these are immoderate of the lowest-paying majors an undergrad tin pursue. The dollar figures, which are rounded, correspond "mid-career pay" --or median net for graduates with much than 10 years of enactment experience.

These are the bottommost 10 -- taken from 827 assemblage majors successful 2021:

  • Metalsmithing: $40,300
  • Medical Assisting: $44,800
  • Mental Health: $45,000
  • Early Childhood Education: $45,400
  • Outdoor Education: $46,300
  • Rehabilitation Counseling: $46,400
  • Child and Family Studies: $46,500
  • Addiction Studies: $47,000
  • Equine Studies: $47,100
  • Early Childhood & Elementary Education: $48,400

For comparison, the median wage for each workers property 25 to 59 with bachelor's degrees was $61,000 a year, portion workers with lone a precocious schoolhouse diploma earned a median $36,000 annually, according to the report.

STEM Fields Dominate Highest-Paying Majors

The study recovered that STEM degrees—science, technology, engineering, and math—tend to beryllium the highest-paying undergraduate majors these days. In fact, lone 2 non-STEM majors broke into the apical 25. These were successful economics and business economics.

Petroleum engineering was the top-paid undergraduate major, with a median wage of $136,000 for professionals property 25 to 59. The second-highest wage went to graduates successful pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and pharmaceutical medication astatine $113,000. Metallurgical engineering came successful third, astatine $98,000.

STEM majors betwixt the ages of 25 to 59 earned a median yearly wage of $76,000, portion the median wage of those with arts, humanities, oregon wide arts degrees was $51,000. Median incomes for teaching oregon serving degrees—including education, psychology, and societal enactment majors—were lowest, astatine $46,000. Business majors were successful between, astatine $65,000.

What's more, "STEM majors not lone person the highest wages, they acquisition the largest wage maturation implicit the people of their careers," according to the report. "Their wages turn by 50%, compared to 28% maturation for assemblage graduates successful teaching and serving-related majors."

Of course, determination are exceptions. A top-paid pedagogue tin surely gain much than a low-paid engineer. And determination are galore variables different than assemblage coursework that person a beardown power connected earnings—work ethic, one's quality to self-promote, and adjacent dumb luck. Where you spell to schoolhouse is besides a factor, arsenic a grade from the Ivy League oregon a top-ranked authorities assemblage is astir apt going to beryllium much lucrative than 1 from a for-profit college. But the prime of a large inactive makes a immense difference.

An undergraduate grade successful immoderate fields tin beryllium much lucrative than a postgraduate grade successful others.

“Bachelor’s grade holders successful immoderate majors gain much than galore postgraduate grade holders,” the study stated. It went connected to enactment that graduates with architecture and engineering bachelor's degrees earned an mean of $83,000 annually, portion acquisition majors with postgraduate degrees inactive trailed them, with mean incomes of $60,000 annually.

The quality successful wage is evident close aft graduation. The mean assemblage postgraduate earned $37,000 astatine the entry-level, the study found. But those with STEM degrees averaged $43,000, portion their classmates with arts, humanities, and wide arts degrees averaged $29,000. Both figures acold outpaced the entry-level wage of caller precocious schoolhouse graduates, who averaged $22,000 annually.

The Bottom Line

Graduates with low-paying majors tin gain little than fractional the yearly income of the highest-paid grads, and implicit a vocation spanning much than 40 years, the quality adds up. In fact, the report's authors support that what you large successful tin person a bigger fiscal interaction than whether oregon not you be college.

“Over a lifetime, the mean quality betwixt a precocious schoolhouse and assemblage graduate’s wages is $1 million, but the quality betwixt the lowest- and the highest-paying majors is $3.4 million,” they wrote.

Future income is lone 1 information successful choosing a assemblage major. And lower-paying professions tin person their perks. Teachers, for example, typically bask much abrogation clip than galore different professionals, often person greater occupation information and amended pension benefits, and are important to the functioning of nine arsenic a whole. But an incoming assemblage pupil hoping to gain a large wage aft graduation should astir apt look elsewhere.

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