We go to college with the intentions of receiving a degree that will increase our earning potential. While many college degrees do open up professional doors of opportunity, these 10 worst college majors might not be worth four years of study and a mountain of student loans. Before you attend college, you will want to see if your planned field of study makes this list.
The Worst College Majors
The following list is organized in descending order and the lowest-paying college major will be ranked #1. All results are based on the 2016-2017 Payscale College Salary Report.
It’s important to note that while these majors might have the highest salaries, graduates can still be financially successful through wise money management.
Also, our economy and society require all these fields of study to fill vital positions. If you have a passion for a major and can afford to earn the degree, doing so, can be a more rewarding decision that working in a career field you do not enjoy or plan to do long-term. Life isn’t always about money.
10. Art and Theater
Starting Salary: $36,500
Median Salary: $56,500
We have all heard the stories of how many famous actors and actresses waited tables, lived out of a car, or worked a variety of side hustles before making their fortune. For many in the arts and entertainment field, their passion doesn’t earn a six-figure income.
After all, there’s a reason the term “starving artist” was coined.
9. Health Services Administration
Starting Salary: $36,300
Median Salary: $51,500
Health care administration are the “behind the scenes” workers that patients rarely see. As people will constantly need medical attention at hospitals and other medical facilities, there will be a need for administrators.
There is currently a high demand for health administrators and you can make more than the median salary if you can climb the ladder be a leader for a public, private, or non-governmental organization.
8. Exercise Science
Starting Salary: $35,900
Median Salary: $54,700
As many people join gyms to get back into shape and lose weight, they need a physical trainer to develop an exercise plan for them. You can also use your degree for rehabilitation training, medical research, corporate wellness, or serving as a pre-health professional.
If you like a career field that involves action while being able to help people improve their physical health, this can also be a rewarding option.
7. Paralegal Studies
Starting Salary: $35,200
Median Salary: $54,900
If you enjoy law but do not want to go to law school or be a full-fledged lawyer, you can be a paralegal. Law firms and companies hire paralegals to assist their legal departments with administrative tasks allowing lawyers to focus on the latest corporate and legal challenges.
You might also be asked to review and prepare agreements. And, you can complete other corporate documents that will affect future business decisions.
6. Special Education
Starting Salary: $35,000
Median Salary: $51,500
Special education is another career field that is often underappreciated yet very rewarding. If you love working with children of many ages and abilities, this can be a great option to teach.
5. Social Work
Starting Salary: $33,800
Median Salary: $46,700
If you want to help others in difficult situations, you can be a social worker. You might find employment with the Department of Human Services or a non-profit. Depending on the mission scope of the organization, social work can include a variety of tasks and helping people from a variety of backgrounds.
4. Culinary Arts
Starting Salary: $33,100
Median Salary: $55,300
Everybody appreciates a talented chef. But, it might not always be the highest-paying job and the hours can also be long. You can use your degree to be a chef or cook inside a restaurant kitchen or transition to an administrative role as a food service manager.
Eventually, you might even become a personal chef or lead chef. And, it’s also possible that you can open your own restaurant business.
3. Pastoral Ministry
Starting Salary: $32,800
Median Salary: $50,000
Being a pastor is definitely for those that want to answer a higher calling and help evangelize and help others. While this isn’t a high-paying job, it can be very rewarding as you might be the primary contact for those needing guidance, advice, or support.
2. Child and Family Studies
Starting Salary: $31,400
Median Salary: $40,700
If you have ambitions of being a family counselor or a child interventionist, this can be a good major. There are many different career paths with this job as you will help families and children with counseling and therapy needs.
To improve your employment competitiveness, you might also consider attending graduate school.
1. Early Childhood Education
Starting Salary: $30,700
Median Salary: $37,500
Every school system has early childhood educators, but, the pay is low. As it is for most teaching positions. Many people decide to pursue this major because of their passion for teaching young children and preparing them for the rest of their educational career.
Should You Pursue These Majors?
These 10 majors are significantly different in fields of study compared to the 10 highest-paying college majors.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue these majors. If nobody did, we wouldn’t have teachers in our schools, social workers and counselors, or a variety of other professionals that many of us interact with on a regular basis.
If you decide to pursue these majors (or any college major) you need to take several factors into consideration:
- Repaying Your Student Loans
- Using a loan repayment program like Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Work for a company that repays student loans
And, you will always want to follow these helpful student loan tips as you prepare for college or entering the work force.
One reason these ten majors are also the lowest paying is because many students specialize in these degrees. These career paths are more common than others and have a lower salary as a result. That doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams as many people have successful and highly-fulfilling careers within these majors. The road just might be a little tougher.