Special Report

The Highest and Lowest Paying College Majors in America

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5. Language and drama education
> Avg. annual earnings: $31,450
> Unemployment rate: 2.4%
> Total workforce: 221,956

More than 95% of language and drama education majors who finish their bachelor’s degree also go on to earn a master’s degree, one of the highest rates of any major. Unlike most other fields of study, education-related majors typically do not earn a high wage despite the high levels of education. Language and drama education majors earn, on average, $31,450 per year.

Like most college graduates, language and drama education majors typically do not have a high rate of unemployment. Just 2.4% college graduates in this field are looking for work.

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4. School student counseling
> Avg. annual earnings: $30,913
> Unemployment rate: 2.3%
> Total workforce: 14,563

Like many education-related majors, those who graduate with a degree in school student counseling are some of the least well-compensated college graduates. The average school student counseling degree holder earns less than $31,000 per year. More than one in every five school student counseling majors go on to earn a doctorate — a larger share than the vast majority of other college majors.

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3. Secondary teacher education
> Avg. annual earnings: $29,739
> Unemployment rate: 2.2%
> Total workforce: 203,712

Secondary teacher education is a major specifically designed for those who want to teach in high school. Specialized for high school classroom situations, this degree program covers classroom management, teaching methods, and specific subjects like high school history. Teaching high school can be a rewarding career, but for many, it is not especially high paying. The average annual earnings of those with a secondary teacher education degree is just under $30,000 annually.

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2. Elementary education
> Avg. annual earnings: $27,112
> Unemployment rate: 1.7%
> Total workforce: 1,372,855

Elementary education degree holders are one of the only three groups of college graduates to earn less than $30,000 per year on average. With average annual earnings of $27,112, elementary education degree holders earn just over $2,000 more than the average person in the U.S. labor force, regardless of hours worked or education level.

With millions of children in elementary schools across the country, there is a need for teachers. Even though there are nearly 1.4 million elementary education majors in the labor force, the unemployment rate among degree holders is just 1.7%.

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1. Library science
> Avg. annual earnings: $26,462
> Unemployment rate: 3.4%
> Total workforce: 24,817

Library science bachelor’s degree holders earn $26,462 per year on average, the lowest of any field of study — despite the fact that most libraries require a master’s degree for the typical entry-level position. Those who major in this field often go on to become librarians or collect and catalog information in other organizations like hospitals, museums, and places with large amounts of data. The unemployment rate among library science degree holders is 3.4% — relatively high compared to unemployment among other college majors.

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