Special Report

College Majors With the Lowest Unemployment

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20. Special needs education
> Unemployment rate: 1.5%
> Avg. salary: $37,655
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 60.5%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 265,091

Only 1.5% of the more than quarter of a million Americans in the labor force who studied special needs education in college are unemployed. Most jobs in the field involve working with students who have any number of learning, mental, emotional, or physical difficulties in programs that are offered by public schools.

As is often the case for Americans working in education, special needs instructors typically have a two-month break during the summer.

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19. Library science
> Unemployment rate: 1.5%
> Avg. salary: $28,969
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 68.2%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 25,381

Library science is effectively the study of information storage, organization, and maintenance. Those who study in the field can use their skill set in a number of capacities that require these and other skills, including locating information on nearly any topic. Many who study library science become librarians. While more than 25,000 labor force participants in the U.S. majored in library science as undergraduates, most who are working as librarians did not begin studying library science until the graduate level.

The jobless rate among those who studied library science is just 1.5%. Demand for librarians is projected to grow by 5% between 2019 and 2029, slightly faster than the projected job growth across all occupations.

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18. Nursing
> Unemployment rate: 1.5%
> Avg. salary: $57,925
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 26.8%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 2,558,871

Nursing is one of the most common areas of undergraduate study in American higher education. Many choose nursing out of a desire to help and care for the sick. The profession is one of the most secure occupations in the country. Only 1.5% of the nearly 2.6 million labor force participants who went to college for nursing are unemployed.

Demand for those who study nursing is projected to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for registered nurses are projected to grow by 7% over the decade ending in 2029, well above the average 4% job growth rate across all occupations.

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17. Biological engineering
> Unemployment rate: 1.5%
> Avg. salary: $81,670
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 44.4%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 65,142

Biological engineering is an interdisciplinary major that combines coursework in biology, chemical engineering, civil engineering, mathematics, and physics. Those who study biological engineering ultimately end up working in careers that aim to solve biological issues such as developing sustainable food and energy supply solutions and protecting natural resources. These jobs are among the most secure in the labor market, as just 1.5% of bio engineering majors are unemployed.

As is often the case among the fields of study on this list, bio engineering students often continue their education beyond the undergraduate level. An estimated 44% of those who majored in biomedical engineering also have a professional, master’s, or doctoral degree.

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16. Physiology
> Unemployment rate: 1.4%
> Avg. salary: $89,456
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 55.1%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 136,346

Physiology majors study the functions and mechanisms of living organisms. The degree program, which is a subset of biology, also prepares students for some of the most secure jobs in the labor force, including lab technicians, clinical trial coordinators, surgical technicians, and medical assistants. Most who major in the field go on to earn a professional, master’s, or doctorate degree, which can lead to careers in other fields, like physical therapy.

Only 1.4% of labor force participants who majored in physiology are unemployed.

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