Racial income disparities are stark in the United States. On average, Black households earn about 63 cents for every dollar earned by white households, based on census figures. In addition, Black workers tend to be segregated into lower-paying jobs in retail, health care, and food service, while many higher-paying professions have disproportionately low Black representation, with only 5% of physicians being Black, and 4.5% of software developers, according to a McKinsey’s report from 2021.
Access to quality higher education is a large factor in this disparity. Black school children are more likely to be poor and less likely to attend college – largely due to the effects of centuries of discrimination. There are, however, certain jobs that tend to pay Black college graduates more than their white counterparts. (These are America’s best companies to work for according to Black workers.)
To determine the majors that predict higher salaries for Black students, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on earnings from the U.S. Census Bureau. Undergraduate majors were ranked based on the dollar difference in median earnings between Black degree holders and white degree holders. All 30 fields of study for which Black degree holders earn more than white degree holders are listed. All data is from the Census’ 2021 American Community Survey and are one-year estimates.
The majors on the list span education, humanities, sciences, and engineering. The lowest-paid majors tend to be in education, with median salaries ranging from around $31,000 to $42,000 for Black graduates. The highest-paying majors tend to be in science and engineering, with salaries ranging from about $58,000 to $108,000 for Black graduates.
The highest-paying degree on the list is materials science, an interdisciplinary field that involves research into molecular structure for the development of solid materials. This field also employs the smallest share of Black degree holders of all fields on the list – only 1.9%. The fields with the highest share of Black graduates are social sciences (10.8%), counseling psychology (12.7%), and social work (17.3%). (Also see, cities with the most Black-owned businesses.)
Click here to see the 30 college majors higher earnings for black versus white graduates.
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