Lowest Paying Jobs for College Grads

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A college degree is often required to work in one of the nation’s top-earning fields. The average annual salary for positions that typically require a college degree is $73,785 – nearly twice the average salary of those occupations that generally require no degree. However, a college degree does not guarantee a high-paying position.

For example: a person typically needs a bachelor’s degree in order to be a legislator, yet the annual median wage for this job is $23,470. This is significantly lower than the annual median wage of $37,040 for all occupations – with or without a degree requirement.

To identify the 33 lowest paying jobs for college grads with an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or a doctoral or professional degree, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed annual median wage estimates for all occupations from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While four of the 33 lowest-paying jobs typically require a master’s degree, most require either an associate or a bachelor’s degree. Many of the jobs are also in similar fields, such as education and social work. Nine of the jobs are some type of technician.

Employment in the jobs on this list is also projected – with a few exceptions – to either shrink or grow below the 6.5% average employment growth for all occupations from 2014 to 2024. This could imply that workers are moving away from jobs that generally require an expensive investment in higher education, yet provide relatively little financial payoff. Notable exceptions to this trend are substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and mental health counselors. Employment in these two occupation is projected to increase by 22.3% and 19.6%, respectively.

Click here to see the lowest paying jobs for college grads.

To identify the lowest paying jobs that typically require a college degree, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed annual median wage estimates for all occupations from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wage data are from the May 2016 survey. Data concerning the typical education needed for each occupation came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014 Employment Projections report. The percentages of workers 25 and older in each of these occupations who have less than a high school diploma, high school diploma or equivalent, some college but no degree, an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctoral or professional degree also came from the BLS’ 2014 Employment Projections report. Total and projected employment for each occupation also came from this source. Full- and part-time occupations are included across all employment types, including federal, state, and local governments, as well as all private establishments. The Employment Projections report includes self-employed workers, while the OES excludes such workers.