Special Report

College Majors With the Highest Unemployment

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10. Ecology
> Unemployment rate: 4.3%
> Avg. salary: $58,371
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 35.8%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 86,135

Ecology majors study how living organisms interact with the environment. Course work typically focuses heavily on biology, botany, and genetics. Ecology degree holders often go on to careers as researchers, park rangers, foresters, teachers, environmental analysts, and environmental consultants.

While ecology graduates have a number of career options, a larger than typical share of them struggle to find work. The 4.3% jobless rate among labor force participants with an ecology degree is higher than the unemployment rate for the vast majority of college majors.

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9. Industrial and organizational psychology
> Unemployment rate: 4.3%
> Avg. salary: $69,239
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 46.6%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 30,520

Industrial and organizational psychology majors study subjects like workplace management, productivity, hierarchy organization to prepare for jobs helping companies improve efficiency in the workplace.

Those with industrial and organizational psychology degrees are in nearly every industry. Still, the jobless rate among the 30,500 American workers with a degree in the field is 4.3%, well above the 2.6% jobless rate among all college graduates.

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8. Communication technologies
> Unemployment rate: 4.5%
> Avg. salary: $56,103
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 13.4%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 90,436

Communication technologies is a broad major in which students learn about mass communication mediums as well as topics such as economic and management. Degree holders often enter the workforce and become film and video editors, broadcast technicians, and sound engineering technicians.

A larger than average share of graduates with a degree in communication technologies also struggle to find work. Of the nearly 90,500 Americans in the labor force who majored in the subject, 4.5% are unemployed — above the 2.6% rate among college graduates and in line with the 4.5% unemployment rate among all education levels.

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7. Nuclear engineering
> Unemployment rate: 4.7%
> Avg. salary: $83,470
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 51.3%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 16,560

Renewable electricity production is projected to increase by 42% by 2050. Over the same period, nuclear energy production is projected to decline slightly, and its contribution to the country’s total energy mix will drop by half. Partially as a result, demand for nuclear engineers is projected to decline by 13% over the next decade.

There are 16,560 labor force participants who majored in nuclear engineering, and 4.7% of them are unemployed.

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6. Film video and photographic arts
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%
> Avg. salary: $52,011
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 18.6%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 192,396

Film video and photographic arts study the practical elements of film making and production, such as techniques and communication strategies as well as film theory, history, and criticism. Focus areas in the major include documentary production and photography. Currently, 5.0% of the more than 192,000 labor force participants who studied film video and photographic arts in college are unemployed.

Job prospects will not likely improve for many in the field. Over the next decade, employment for photographers is projected to decline by 4% as digital cameras decrease in price and the number of amateur photographers climbs.

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