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Worst College Majors for Your Career

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A four-year college degree can pay off handsomely. The average worker with a bachelor's pockets $2.4 million in lifetime earnings — $1 million more than someone with only a high school diploma. Those lifetime earnings can add up to significantly less, however, depending on what you study in college. An education major, for instance, collects just $1.8 million over the span of a 40-year career; an arts major, $2.0 million.

We analyzed salaries and jobless rates for workers with bachelor's degrees in 95 popular majors to determine which fields of study are worst for college grads' earnings and employment prospects. We looked at data for recent grads as well as workers who are well into their careers.

If your passion lies with one of the following subjects, we're not saying you ought to stop pursuing it. Money isn't everything. But you should be realistic about job opportunities and income potential for these majors, especially if you expect to graduate with a mountain of student debt.

Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce provided the list of 95 majors, as well as the unemployment rates associated with each major for recent college graduates with bachelor's degrees (ages 22 to 26) and mid-career workers (ages 30 to 54). Median annual salaries for recent grads (five years or less of work experience) and mid-career employees (at least ten years of work experience) for each major were supplied by compensation research firm PayScale. Median incomes and projected growth rates from 2010 to 2020 for specific occupations and their related industries are courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Projected job growth reflects the growth rate of an occupation that's representative of each college major.

Worst College Majors for Your Career
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