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10 Worst College Majors for a Lucrative Career

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Whether the high cost of college is worthwhile really depends on what you study. It’s true a full-time worker with a bachelor's typically earns two-thirds more than someone with only a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But those are just averages. According to a 2015 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the difference in lifetime earnings between the highest-paying college majors and lowest-paying majors is a whopping $3.4 million. So you need to know what kind of future you can expect from your degree before you borrow the tuition money to get it.


To that end, we analyzed data for 126 popular college majors, focusing on prospects for pay, hiring demand and job satisfaction for each. In the following 10 fields, we found that workers with these majors report low starting and mid-career salaries. Many report that they don’t find their careers meaningful, either. These majors also are not commonly sought after in recent online job postings and often lead to occupations with lackluster growth expectations.

If you find your favorite subject on this list, don’t fret. We suggest a career path that might work best for each of these fields. After all, seeing the numbers shouldn’t necessarily deter you from studying a subject you’re passionate about, but you’re better off following your dreams with eyes wide open.

For each of the 126 college majors, compensation research firm PayScale provided median annual salaries for entry-level workers (with five years or less of work experience) and mid-career employees (with at least 10 years of experience). PayScale also provided “high job meaning” scores, which indicate the percentage of workers with given college majors who say their work makes the world a better place. Workforce research firm Burning Glass Technologies supplied the number of online job postings listed between the third quarter of 2016 and the second quarter of 2017 that were seeking applicants with each of the 126 college majors. Projected 10-year growth rates from 2016 to 2026 for related occupations came from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), a labor-market research firm owned by CareerBuilder. EMSI collects data from more than 90 federal, state and private sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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