Majors with the highest and lowest underemployment

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October 6, 2020
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Majors with the highest and lowest underemployment

College is a hefty investment. Often the price tag for a four-year college education is upwards of $100,000. Graduates and non-graduates—who attend some college but don't get a degree—are saddled with huge amounts of debt. Nearly 45 million Americans have outstanding debt from higher education, collectively owing nearly $1.5 trillion.

Anybody who went to college a few decades ago and is now attempting to grant their own children a similar experience has experienced firsthand the degree to which higher education has become outrageously expensive—at least relative to what it cost in the past.

Many parents and students alike justify these costs by performing a long-term cost-benefit analysis, which suggests the cost of having attended college will eventually be canceled out by a competitive salary. A study by the Economic Policy Institute showed the pay gap between college graduates and everybody else is at an all-time high, but there are still many degree-holding individuals who feel as though the work they do is either unfulfilling, does not properly utilize the skills at their disposal, or could even be completed without a degree altogether.

In determining which majors most often lead people to underwhelming careers, Stacker analyzed a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, reporting data from 2017-2018 and released on July 17, 2020, which looked at employment statuses of graduates with 73 unique college majors. Stacker ranked every listed major in the study according to the rate of underemployment, which the New York Fed defines as “working in jobs that typically do not require a college degree.” Any ties were broken with unemployment rates.

Read on to see how common majors rank in terms of career success, beginning with #73 (the major with the lowest underemployment rank) and working down to #1 (the major with the highest underemployment rank).

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Dscot018 // Wikimedia Commons

#73. Special education

- Underemployment rate: 11.2%
- Unemployment rate: 1.9%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $46,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 62.3%

Special education careers are aimed toward helping students with special needs (behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities) achieve their fullest potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2019 median pay for a special education teacher was $61,000. Job growth is expected to increase by 3% over the next 10 years.

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Suzannekweiss // Wikimedia Commons

#72. Nursing

- Underemployment rate: 12.1%
- Unemployment rate: 1.8%
- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $70,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 27.1%

Registered nurses are responsible for coordinating and administering patient care. They are required to obtain a bachelor's or associate's degree or diploma from an approved nursing program. Over the next 10 years, the employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Kenneth Wright // Wikimedia Commons

#71. Elementary education

- Underemployment rate: 15.4%
- Unemployment rate: 1.7%
- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $44,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 47.6%

A graduate with an elementary education degree often pursues a career teaching kindergarten through grade five or six, depending on the district. According to USA Today, more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. hold degrees in elementary education, and with a 1.6% unemployment rate, graduates are at an advantage.

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Steven Lek // Wikimedia Commons

#70. Civil engineering

- Underemployment rate: 19.2%
- Unemployment rate: 1.5%
- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 38.7%

Civil engineers are responsible for designing and creating important parts of community infrastructure, from highways and dams to airports, coastal construction, and environmental engineering. It's a competitive field, as there is potential to earn upwards of $110,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It requires strong mathematics, organizational, and problem-solving skills.

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Pixabay

#69. Early childhood education

- Underemployment rate: 19.6%
- Unemployment rate: 1.4%
- Median wage early career: $34,000
- Median wage mid-career: $40,200
- Share with graduate degrees: 38.6%

An early childhood education degree prepares graduates for a career in preschool education, kindergarten and elementary school education, childcare services, special education, or a school counselor or psychologist. It's an in-demand career, especially as world populations continue to increase. According to Teaching EducPsych, there will be a continued need for professionals with expertise in early childhood education.

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www.af.mil

#68. Electrical engineering

- Underemployment rate: 21.2%
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Median wage early career: $68,000
- Median wage mid-career: $100,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 46.4%

Electrical engineer majors have a wide variety of career paths to choose from, whether they're developing aircraft electrical systems or testing prototypes for smaller pocket devices. Nearly every industry can use an electrical engineer, however many employers require them to hold advanced degrees, which is what makes it a competitive field, according to CareerBuilder.

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www.af.mil

#67. Computer engineering

- Underemployment rate: 21.3%
- Unemployment rate: 2.5%
- Median wage early career: $66,000
- Median wage mid-career: $109,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 40.6%

Computer engineers are responsible for researching, designing, developing, and testing computer systems. The career path offers a competitive salary, as it requires at least a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is projected to grow by 2% over the next 10 years, which is slower than the national average.

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#66. Mechanical engineering

- Underemployment rate: 21.3%
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Median wage early career: $65,000
- Median wage mid-career: $100,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 41.1%

Mechanical engineer degrees position graduates for jobs in a variety of industries. Careers include aerospace engineer, automotive engineer, contracting civil engineer, mechanical engineer, and nuclear engineer, among many others. The unemployment rate is low, but underemployment may be high considering the competitive nature of the industry. Prospects must be kept up to speed on the latest technological advances, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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woodleywonderworks // flickr

#65. Miscellaneous education

- Underemployment rate: 21.6%
- Unemployment rate: 0.4%
- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $50,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 55.4%

Miscellaneous education includes a variety of other teaching-related majors that aren't covered by other degrees. Similarly to other teaching professions, there is a need for good teachers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, education employment is expected to grow by 5%, and student enrollment is projected to increase.

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vicwag // Wikimedia Commons

#64. Industrial engineering

- Underemployment rate: 21.6%
- Unemployment rate: 4.7%
- Median wage early career: $63,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 39.6%

Graduates with a degree in industrial engineering can go on to careers where they design, develop, test, and evaluate integrated systems used in industrial production processes. Industries may include the aerospace industry, motor vehicle parts manufacturing, architectural and engineering services, or machinery manufacturing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly wages are among the highest in the country, with an average hourly wage of $44.55.

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#63. Aerospace engineering

- Underemployment rate: 21.7%
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Median wage early career: $65,000
- Median wage mid-career: $102,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 51.8%

Aerospace engineering is among the careers with the best job security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 3% increase between 2019 and 2029. Still, aerospace engineers continue to be in high demand because of the stringent education requirements and a job market that is unsaturated.

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Pixabay

#62. Computer science

- Underemployment rate: 22.0%
- Unemployment rate: 5.2%
- Median wage early career: $65,000
- Median wage mid-career: $96,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 32.8%

As technology continues to evolve and shape our future, a decrease in computer sciences has resulted in lucrative careers that are in high demand. According to Burning Glass Technologies, any STEM major (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) outperforms other majors, in terms of underemployment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the job outlook is expected to grow 15% in the next nine years.

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Pixabay

#61. General education

- Underemployment rate: 22.6%
- Unemployment rate: 1.7%
- Median wage early career: $36,400
- Median wage mid-career: $47,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 48.1%

General education is a broad major taken by students who are still undecided about a specific field they wish to pursue. Potential careers include everything from editorial director to software consultant, brand manager, and technical writer, according to My College Guide.

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#60. Secondary education

- Underemployment rate: 22.7%
- Unemployment rate: 1.7%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $50,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 49.4%

Graduates with a degree in secondary education can go on to pursue careers in high school education, adult literacy, teaching kindergarten, elementary or middle school, and more. Employment of high school teachers is expected to grow by 4%, which is an increase of more than 40,000 available jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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NTNU, Faculty of Natural Sciences // Flickr

#59. Chemical engineering

- Underemployment rate: 22.7%
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Median wage early career: $68,000
- Median wage mid-career: $110,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 48.4%

Graduates with chemical engineering degrees can work in careers where they develop and design chemical manufacturing processes. The industry is growing at 4%, which is the national average, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand is dependent on demand for the products of the specific industries. According to ValuePenguin, the best cities for chemical engineers are Houston, Texas; Beaumont, Texas; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Mweufika // Wikimedia Commons

#58. Accounting

- Underemployment rate: 24.1%
- Unemployment rate: 2.4%
- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 29.6%

Accounting is a career that can cross over into virtually any industry. Not only that, an accounting major opens the door to several other careers, from financial analyst and investment banker to auditor, credit analyst, and others. That, plus a 4% job growth through 2029, and it's easy to see why there is a relatively low underemployment rate for accounting majors.

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Jacob Lund // Shutterstock

#57. Pharmacy

- Underemployment rate: 25.6%
- Unemployment rate: 2.0%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $105,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 60.5%

A pharmacy major can be a lucrative career choice for people who manage to land a gig. Pharmacist careers require postsecondary education, a PharmD degree, and licensing, according to U.S. News & World Report. While unemployment for pharmacy majors is low and salaries are highly competitive, the job market is expected to drop by 5%, according to RxRelief.

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www.uscg.mil

#56. Mathematics

- Underemployment rate: 27.6%
- Unemployment rate: 4.9%
- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $80,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 51.2%

Mathematics majors open the door to a wide variety of careers, from economist and financial analyst to statistician and market research analyst. Job growth for mathematics majors is projected to be 33% over the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, a typical entry level education is a master's degree, so those with math majors in college may not land a job in their field until completing higher education.

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Magnus Bäck // Wikimedia Commons

#55. Construction services

- Underemployment rate: 28.9%
- Unemployment rate: 2.7%
- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 10.3%

Construction services majors can go on to have careers overseeing residential, commercial, and civil construction projects. While a bachelor's degree is required for entry level jobs, the higher paying jobs do require experience, in addition to the degree. The job outlook for construction management is growing, with an additional 40,000 jobs coming in the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Pixabay

#54. Architecture

- Underemployment rate: 29.4%
- Unemployment rate: 5.0%
- Median wage early career: $47,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 39.2%

Architects use their degrees to design, engineer, and coordinate the construction of buildings. An estimated 1,100 jobs are expected to become available in the next 10 years, which is a very slow job growth outlook, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's a career with a low unemployment rate, but to land that first job may take time. Upon graduation, students are required to complete a training period or internship, which can last at least three years, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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ALPA PROD // Shutterstock

#53. Treatment therapy

- Underemployment rate: 29.6%
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 46.6%

Treatment therapists tend to be psychology majors who go on to work independently, whether conducting research, working with patients, or consulting. They can also go on to work in school settings or as part of a healthcare team. It can be a competitive field, with a median pay of more than $80,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, treatment therapists have to undergo internships or residencies, as well as obtain licensing and generally a master's degree.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Flickr

#52. Miscellaneous engineering

- Underemployment rate: 30.1%
- Unemployment rate: 4.8%
- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 45.3%

Miscellaneous engineering majors can go on to work in a variety of fields, from software developers and mechanical engineers to sales managers and civil engineers, according to Career Trend. Being a STEM major means it has a relatively lower rate of underemployment, however the more specialized graduates become, the better chance they have of landing a career that fits their field.

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Pixabay

#51. General engineering

- Underemployment rate: 30.3%
- Unemployment rate: 4.9%
- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $86,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.4%

Employers of general engineer majors are looking for graduates who excel in physics, design, math, and problem-solving. Graduates can go on to have careers designing buildings and bridges, or working in chemical engineering or the aerospace industry. Typically advanced degrees are required, which is why the average employee age of a general engineer is 43 years old, according to Data USA.

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Iakov Filimonov // Shutterstock

#50. Social services

- Underemployment rate: 31.9%
- Unemployment rate: 3.1%
- Median wage early career: $34,000
- Median wage mid-career: $45,200
- Share with graduate degrees: 48.4%

A career in social services can include everything from health educators and mental health counselors to social workers, substance abuse counselors, and recreational therapists. Most careers require a bachelor's degree, but many require higher education, licensing, certifications, or registrations, according to The Best Schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that an additional 90,700 social services jobs are expected in the next 10 years.

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IPASadelaide // Flickr

#49. Physics

- Underemployment rate: 34.3%
- Unemployment rate: 7.7%
- Median wage early career: $49,000
- Median wage mid-career: $95,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 69.1%

Physics is a versatile degree that can be used across a variety of STEM fields. Glassdoor says those with physics degrees can follow careers in engineering, computer sciences, academia, medicine, the military, and more. It's a competitive industry that often requires more advanced degrees, according to The Best Schools.

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UC Davis College of Engineering // Flickr

#48. Biochemistry

- Underemployment rate: 35.0%
- Unemployment rate: 1.8%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $80,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 73.0%

According to the Biochemical Society, a degree in biochemistry can lead to a variety of careers, whether it's in research, academia, or patent law. Most biochemistry majors go on to seek advanced degrees, according to Study.com.

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StFX // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Miscellaneous physical sciences

- Underemployment rate: 35.2%
- Unemployment rate: 2.5%
- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $76,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 56.0%

Miscellaneous physical sciences is an umbrella category for sciences not classified by the National Center for Education Statistics, according to the Quad-City Times. These include courses in physics, chemistry, earth science, and more. Common jobs include high school teacher, environmental science, and chemist.

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REDPIXEL.PL // Shutterstock

#46. Commercial art & graphic design

- Underemployment rate: 35.8%
- Unemployment rate: 4.5%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $62,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 11.1%

The graphic design profession is literally all around us, from posters and billboards, to magazine layouts and all other forms of advertising. Job candidates must have technical and communication skills, as well as talents in marketing and brand strategy, according to U.S. News & World Report. Graphic designers are likely underemployed because the job market is highly competitive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth is projected to decrease by 4% by 2029.

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Kyle Glenn // Unsplash

#45. Geography

- Underemployment rate: 36.0%
- Unemployment rate: 5.0%
- Median wage early career: $43,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 33.7%

Geography majors can go on to several careers that involve the physical features of the Earth, from geoscientist and geographer to cartographer. Industries can include the federal government, academia, engineering, and architecture. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% job growth for geoscientists through 2029. However, the niche is highly specialized, with fewer than 1,600 jobs available, so competition is high.

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Markus Spiske // Unsplash

#44. Information systems & management

- Underemployment rate: 37.1%
- Unemployment rate: 4.9%
- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $80,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 24.7%

Information systems managers are responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing computer-related activities for businesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most degree holders who are employed have a bachelor's degree, though many go on to earn a graduate degree. The industry is expected to add another 48,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

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Peter Kotoff // Shutterstock

#43. Finance

- Underemployment rate: 37.6%
- Unemployment rate: 3.5%
- Median wage early career: $55,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 30.8%

A bachelor's degree in finance can open up a variety of careers from financial planner and financial analyst to budget analyst, attorney, and accountant. According to Burning Glass technologies, underemployment for business majors overall is high, but it's lower for those with specializations, particularly those of finance or marketing.

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Louis Reed // Unsplash

#42. Chemistry

- Underemployment rate: 37.9%
- Unemployment rate: 4.0%
- Median wage early career: $42,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 65.3%

Chemistry majors need at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry in order to go on to conduct research at the atomic and molecular levels, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's a career with a projected 5% job growth, however a master's degree or Ph.D. is often required.

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Pixabay

#41. Business analytics

- Underemployment rate: 38.3%
- Unemployment rate: 2.9%
- Median wage early career: $58,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 24.7%

A business analytics degree prepares students to enter the world of big data analysis. Those who seek a business analytics degree have often studied physics, math, engineering, statistics, economics, or other related fields. Unemployment for business analysts is low, however those without a master's degree may find it challenging to advance in the workforce, according to Noodle.

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StFX // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Economics

- Underemployment rate: 39.5%
- Unemployment rate: 4.2%
- Median wage early career: $55,000
- Median wage mid-career: $93,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 42.2%

An economics degree analyzes resource allocation, incentives and wealth, and other areas of the economy. A degree in economics lays the groundwork for higher education in fields like business management, law and public affairs, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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Andre Engels // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Journalism

- Underemployment rate: 39.7%
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 26.5%

Journalism degrees position graduates for any number of media careers, from editor and writer to public relations manager. But the publishing industry has been on the decline, forcing journalists to work freelance, part time, or as independent contractors or in temporary gigs as the number of staff positions dwindle, according to NiemanLab.

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#38. Earth sciences

- Underemployment rate: 40.1%
- Unemployment rate: 4.7%
- Median wage early career: $47,000
- Median wage mid-career: $66,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 46.9%

Students with a bachelor's degree in earth sciences are qualified for careers in resource management, geotechnical consulting, urban planning, mining industries, and many federal and state agencies. Jobs in any type of science tend to be competitive, and those potential employees with specialized study and higher degrees may have an advantage, according to Mendeley Careers.

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#37. Engineering technologies

- Underemployment rate: 40.4%
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $83,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 25.4%

An engineering technology degree opens the door for careers in industries like production, design, manufacturing, and operations. According to Value Colleges, those with engineering tech degrees are better off considering a graduate program in order to advance to top-level jobs. Entry-level jobs are available, but to pursue the higher-level opportunities, master’s or doctoral degrees are likely required.

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Pixabay

#36. Family and consumer sciences

- Underemployment rate: 40.6%
- Unemployment rate: 4.1%
- Median wage early career: $32,300
- Median wage mid-career: $50,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 32.5%

A degree in family and consumer sciences gives graduates the tools to pursue careers as child caseworkers, housing counselors, real estate agents, or adoption caseworkers, among other careers. According to College Factual, many members of the industry have at least a master's degree, so it may be worth pursuing a graduate degree for the best return on investment.

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Prostock-studio // Shutterstock

#35. Nutrition sciences

- Underemployment rate: 41.5%
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $56,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 47.7%

Nutritional science looks at how diet impacts health. Graduates are eligible for careers in hospitals, private practice, sports nutrition, the food industry, advertising, and many other careers. Many states require additional licensing in order to practice as a dietician or a nutritionist, and an internship or residency is often required after graduation. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is an industry that is growing at 8%, which is faster than the national average.

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Rawpixel.com // Shutterstock

#34. Health services

- Underemployment rate: 44.4%
- Unemployment rate: 3.9%
- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $56,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 52.1%

Health service workers are responsible for managing, planning, and coordinating the business of healthcare providers. Health care is a stable industry, so job security is likely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is one of the fastest growing industries. In the next 10 years, there will be more than 133,000 additional jobs in health services available.

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Trust "Tru" Katsande // Unsplash

#33. Miscellaneous biological science

- Underemployment rate: 45.7%
- Unemployment rate: 2.7%
- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 60.1%

Biological science majors explore molecular medicine, ecology, the environment, and microbial physiology, among other topics. Biological science majors have been underemployed for years now: The rate was 49% back in 2018, according to Reuters. The article suggests that because so many people go to college now, competition is intense, particularly for liberal arts and science majors, biological sciences included. Getting an advanced degree is one of the ways to set yourself apart.

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Bill Oxford // Unsplash

#32. Biology

- Underemployment rate: 46.1%
- Unemployment rate: 4.2%
- Median wage early career: $37,000
- Median wage mid-career: $66,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 63.4%

A degree in biology can lay the groundwork for careers in biochemistry, academics, agricultural and food science, environmental science, and microbiology, among others. Of course, to remain competitive, many biology graduates go on to study at the postgraduate level in order to specialize, which helps with career progression, according to Top Universities.

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Hpeterswald // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Advertising and public relations

- Underemployment rate: 46.8%
- Unemployment rate: 3.0%
- Median wage early career: $44,000
- Median wage mid-career: $70,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 18.2%

A degree in advertising or public relations can open up career avenues in industries like marketing, journalism, media relations, and communications, among others. It's a competitive industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however there is potential for employment growth. By 2029, an additional 19,700 jobs in public relations and advertising are expected to become available.

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Mark Skalny // Shutterstock

#30. Theology and religion

- Underemployment rate: 47.0%
- Unemployment rate: 1.5%
- Median wage early career: $34,000
- Median wage mid-career: $50,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 41.9%

Graduates with a degree in theology can prepare themselves for careers in a variety of industries, from counselors and civil service administrators to academia and law. They have the lowest unemployment rate of any major, however nearly half go on to pursue postgraduate degrees.

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#29. Foreign language

- Underemployment rate: 47.4%
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $63,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 50.8%

A degree in foreign language can help turn your passport into your profession. The ability to speak a second language opens career paths from foreign language teachers to interpreters, translators, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, foreign language specialists need at least a bachelor's degree, as well as proficiency in English plus one other language.

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Will Hart // Flickr

#28. Interdisciplinary studies

- Underemployment rate: 49.3%
- Unemployment rate: 5.0%
- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $62,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.8%

A major in interdisciplinary studies is a catch-all term that basically allows students to design their own field of study, according to Best Value Schools. It can be a great option for those who haven't narrowed down their main field, or it can help a student design a program that their particular university may not offer.

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Pixabay

#27. Political science

- Underemployment rate: 49.7%
- Unemployment rate: 5.2%
- Median wage early career: $42,000
- Median wage mid-career: $78,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 52.6%

Political science is a flexible degree that can transition into a career in politics and policy, nonprofit work, media, education, and other industries in the private and public sectors. It has a 6% growth rate for the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however entry-level requirements typically involve a master's degree.

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#26. General social sciences

- Underemployment rate: 50.0%
- Unemployment rate: 2.7%
- Median wage early career: $34,800
- Median wage mid-career: $55,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 37.3%

Social science degrees open the door to jobs in the public and private sector, from government economist to public service, data analytics, or sales. There is an increasing demand for professionals in the social sciences, and job opportunities are expected to grow by 5%. Careers to consider include anthropologist, economist, and historian, among others. These, however, often require a master's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Hajotthu // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Psychology

- Underemployment rate: 50.0%
- Unemployment rate: 3.9%
- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $58,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 50.6%

A bachelor's degree in psychology opens the door to many career paths. According to Psychology Today, these can include psychometrist/clinician, substance abuse counselor, psychiatric technician, clinical psychologist, and others. Most of these careers, however, do require additional studies and licensing.

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#24. Environmental studies

- Underemployment rate: 50.2%
- Unemployment rate: 4.3%
- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 31.8%

According to EnvironmentalScienceDegree.org, the most popular careers for graduates of environmental sciences programs include environmental scientist, environmental engineer, environmental lawyer, environmental biologist, and environmental geologist. Entry level positions for environmental scientists typically only require a bachelor's degree, but the demand for jobs is high, so the more education you have, the more attractive you will be to employers.

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#23. Medical technicians

- Underemployment rate: 52.0%
- Unemployment rate: 1.1%
- Median wage early career: $45,000
- Median wage mid-career: $68,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 25.6%

Mechanical engineering technicians assist mechanical engineers in designing, testing, and maintaining products, machinery, and equipment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many employers require an associate's degree. But the job market is relatively small, with fewer than 44,000 jobs in 2019 and a projected job growth outlook of only 3% for the next 10 years.

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#22. Marketing

- Underemployment rate: 52.1%
- Unemployment rate: 3.0%
- Median wage early career: $45,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 17.4%

Students who major in marketing have learned a wide variety of skills that can be applied across many industries, from research to communication, advertising, and event planning. Marketing will continue to be an essential industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for marketing professionals is high, but it is an intensely competitive industry, writes Investopedia. Recruiters are most interested in stand-out individuals.

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#21. English language

- Underemployment rate: 52.5%
- Unemployment rate: 4.5%
- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 45.0%

The most obvious career choices for English language majors include writing and teaching. But according to Best Colleges, other career paths can include continuing education in film, culture, rhetoric, and gender studies. A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement. Most employers look for English majors who have earned additional degrees.

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#20. Ethnic studies

- Underemployment rate: 52.5%
- Unemployment rate: 5.9%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 48.8%

Career options for ethnic studies majors include academia, counseling, law, journalism, health and medicine, among many others. Ethnic studies can be a gateway to pursuing more-specialized work, which likely requires graduate and professional school, according to the University of California at Berkeley.

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#19. Sociology

- Underemployment rate: 53.5%
- Unemployment rate: 5.1%
- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.8%

A sociology major opens up career avenues encompassing everything from criminology and gender roles to public policy, social inequality, family work, and more. Graduates often need additional schooling, licensing, or accreditation in order to pursue careers in their chosen field, according to The Balance Careers.

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#18. Philosophy

- Underemployment rate: 53.6%
- Unemployment rate: 4.3%
- Median wage early career: $39,000
- Median wage mid-career: $62,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 57.9%

Philosophy is an attractive major for college students because it's a broad area of study that can be applied to various industries, from business and education to technology and communication. Job opportunities include paralegals, journalists, teachers, research analysts, and data analysts, according to Best Colleges. With more advanced schooling, higher-paid positions open up, from project manager to professor, executive director or lawyer.

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#17. International affairs

- Underemployment rate: 53.9%
- Unemployment rate: 4.6%
- Median wage early career: $47,000
- Median wage mid-career: $72,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 42.8%

International relations majors study the interactions between societies around the world. A degree in international relations can clear the path for careers in diplomacy and foreign policy. But like other degrees, this one does not guarantee a direct career path and will require additional specialization in order to shape a career, according to The Balance Careers.

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#16. History

- Underemployment rate: 54.0%
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 49.5%

A degree in history is incredibly open-ended, which is good for the breadth of career options that it opens up, but can also result in high underemployment as additional specialization is often necessary. Popular history degree jobs include history professor, reporter, historian, researcher, lawyer, and business consultant. Many of these professions require master's degrees or higher, according to Indeed.

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#15. Communications

- Underemployment rate: 54.1%
- Unemployment rate: 3.6%
- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $72,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 22.8%

Communications has become an increasingly popular degree for college graduates. Degree holders can pursue jobs in journalism, public relations, visual media, and more. A communications degree doesn't necessarily point to a clear career path, according to Glassdoor. It grants access to possibilities, but additional specialization will be required.

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#14. Anthropology

- Underemployment rate: 54.2%
- Unemployment rate: 6.0%
- Median wage early career: $33,600
- Median wage mid-career: $59,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 48.0%

The majority of students who graduate with an anthropology degree go on to pursue higher education in the form of a Ph.D. in anthropology or a related field, according to the American Anthropological Association. Graduates with an anthropology degree are suited for careers in a variety of industries, from education and health care to museum curation, government, marketing, and others.

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#13. General business

- Underemployment rate: 55.0%
- Unemployment rate: 4.2%
- Median wage early career: $45,000
- Median wage mid-career: $70,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 23.7%

Majoring in business is a wise decision for many different career avenues, whether the end goal is accounting, consulting, financial analysis, academia, journalism, or other options. A career in business is incredibly versatile, and a career that continues to be in demand. However, before jumping into a career that uses the degree, most business graduates take on internships or continue on with additional education and certifications, according to Glassdoor.

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#12. Miscellaneous technologies

- Underemployment rate: 55.3%
- Unemployment rate: 6.4%
- Median wage early career: $44,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 18.0%

Miscellaneous technologies include a variety of tech-related majors. Similar to other technology programs, those who graduate with miscellaneous technology degrees often go on to pursue specialties or higher degrees. The occupations under technology are expected to grow 11% through 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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#11. Art history

- Underemployment rate: 56.2%
- Unemployment rate: 3.1%
- Median wage early career: $43,000
- Median wage mid-career: $56,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 41.3%

Art history majors can pursue careers as museum curators, researchers, educators, and more. They can also go on to be public relations specialists, art dealers, and project coordinators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most art history majors need a master's degree in order to fulfill their potential in the field they have chosen.

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#10. Mass media

- Underemployment rate: 56.2%
- Unemployment rate: 7.3%
- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $62,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 18.2%

A degree in mass media sets graduates up for careers in journalism, public relations, corporate communications, advertising, and marketing, among others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career is projected to grow 4% through 2029.

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#9. Fine arts

- Underemployment rate: 56.5%
- Unemployment rate: 5.1%
- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $56,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 23.2%

A degree in fine art is a gateway to a number of creative professions, from community arts worker to art therapist, art director, fine artist, and graphic designer. It involves long-term, on-the-job training and is one of the more competitive industries out there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is showing a 0% change in job growth over the next 10 years.

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#8. Animal and plant sciences

- Underemployment rate: 56.8%
- Unemployment rate: 2.3%
- Median wage early career: $36,500
- Median wage mid-career: $61,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.6%

Animal and plant sciences open the door to a variety of career options, all rooted in the biological sciences, from animal scientists to soil scientists, agriculturalists and more. According to Study.com, a bachelor's degree is required for entry-level careers, but those who pursue graduate studies have a higher chance of advancing in their fields.

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#7. Public policy and law

- Underemployment rate: 57.6%
- Unemployment rate: 4.3%
- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 43.1%

Degrees in public policy use data analysis, critical thinking, and decision-making for careers in market research analysis, public relations, public policy, health policy, and national security, among others. To pursue a career in law, additional education is required, typically at the doctoral or professional level, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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#6. Agriculture

- Underemployment rate: 58.7%
- Unemployment rate: 2.5%
- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $70,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 20.8%

Agriculture graduates go on to become much more than farmers. Career paths include veterinary science, plant science, sales, and agricultural engineers. While a bachelor's degree is the minimum entry-level requirement, many students go on to achieve advanced degrees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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#5. Business management

- Underemployment rate: 58.8%
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Median wage early career: $42,500
- Median wage mid-career: $67,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 23.3%

A business management degree provides graduates with the skills necessary for operating within a company or a business. It involves courses on administration, marketing, accounting, and working with a team. Career options include personal assistant, office coordinator, human resources assistant, client services manager, account executive, development director, and more, according to Indeed.

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#4. Liberal arts

- Underemployment rate: 59.5%
- Unemployment rate: 4.3%
- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 28.4%

A degree in the liberal arts can be the gateway to a variety of careers, from social worker and statistician, to journalist, graphic designer, or archivist. The career paths are vague and somewhat all over the map. Liberal arts majors have consistently been among the most underemployed in the country, according to The Atlantic, likely due to the sheer volume of millennial college graduates who have elected a liberal arts degree.

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#3. Leisure and hospitality

- Underemployment rate: 59.8%
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 32.0%

Graduates with a degree in leisure and hospitality can go on to pursue careers as travel agents, lodging managers, food service managers, event planners, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 16 million workers in the hospitality sector.

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#2. Performing arts

- Underemployment rate: 63.0%
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $57,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 38.5%

It's a common stereotype that performing arts majors end up waiting tables or working at coffee shops while waiting for their big break. But it turns out the stereotype may be rooted in reality. Performing arts and theater continues to be a highly competitive field, thanks to the sheer number of trained and talented applicants for each position. According to Data USA, the number of performing arts graduates working in the industry is growing at more than 5%.

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#1. Criminal justice

- Underemployment rate: 73.2%
- Unemployment rate: 4.3%
- Median wage early career: $37,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000
- Share with graduate degrees: 22.6%

A degree in criminal justice means access to roles in law enforcement, the legal system, and corrections, according to The Best Schools. There are rigorous and stringent requirements for being accepted into a career in law enforcement, including training academies, as well as physical and personal qualifications, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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