Seven Highly Educated Jobs Making the Least Money

Michael B. Sauter

More than two-thirds of 2011’s college graduates had student debt. Those students, according to the Project on Student Debt, had an average of more than $25,000 in back loans. To make matters worse for many recent graduates, college graduates have a smaller chance of finding a job than they once did.

For some, the jobs they get with their degree pay so little that it can take years for them just to pay off their loans. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to find jobs that require a bachelor’s degree to be competitive, yet pay less than the median annual wage of $34,750. For example, legislators — elected government officials — earn a median of less than $20,000 annually even though most have bachelor’s degrees. These are the seven highly educated jobs making the least money.

Click here to see the seven jobs

Part of the reason these jobs pay less than the median is that they are temporary, so a full-time, supporting salary isn’t always needed. Graduate-level teaching assistants, who earn a median of just over $30,000 per year, typically pursue a different career once they leave school. Many legislators are only elected for a single term, and some maintain a separate job while in office. President Barack Obama, for example, was a state senator and law school lecturer simultaneously.

In the case of legislators or radio and television announcers, a bachelor’s degree is not required, but it tends to provide the skills needed to be successful in these positions. In other cases of low-paying occupations, it is more or less impossible to get a job without a degree. Most clinics require a candidate for a rehabilitation counselor position to have master’s degree in counseling or a related field.

In order to identify the seven most overeducated jobs making the least money, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Database that earned less than the median annual salary of $34,750. We used the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook to identify educational requirements and long-term job prospects. O*Net Online, an independent career research and advisory site, was used to determine the percentage of people in each occupation with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. The seven occupations on our list required a bachelor’s degree for most employers.

These are the seven highly educated jobs making the most money.