Besides providing an education, going to college can offer a variety of other benefits to students. Students learn more about themselves, and meet friends and make connections at school, which can help with a future job search. While connections and the general quality of education one gets are important to a future career, the role chosen by undergrads can be a major factor in the job one lands out of college, and the potential for how much one can make for the rest of their life. Based on recently released data from the US Census Bureau, some college majors may earn far less than others.
To determine the lowest paying college majors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on earnings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample files, the most recent available data. Undergraduate college majors were ranked based on the average reported incomes of degree holders in 2021.
When we choose a college major, there are many questions one must consider. Some choose their major based on personal passions for the arts or interest in certain subjects. Some choose a major that focuses on helping people, like special needs education. Other considerations may include future earnings potential. (These are the 30 college majors with higher earnings for Black versus white graduates.)
Both fine arts and special needs education are among the lowest-paying majors because the jobs that these majors prepare students for tend to be low-paying. Many arts-related jobs, including visual, performing, and studio arts, are on this list, alongside teaching jobs, social work, community organization, and other historically low-paying jobs.
Education majors, however, are dominant in this list. A career as an educator can be highly rewarding, but those choosing to pursue this career, even after a four-year education, should know that the median American public school teacher salary, as of 2023, was $56,026, according to Salary.com. (These are America’s best public high schools.)
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