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50 college majors that earn the least money

  • 50 college majors that earn the least money

    Career choices are often based on personal interests, experience, and potential income—and more and more, they require at least a college degree. What undergraduates choose to major in during college can be a strong indicator of what an individual's financial future looks like—and it’s not always rosy news.

    Using PayScale's 2019 College Salary Report, Stacker researched the 50 college majors that earn the least money. The 2019 report surveyed 3.5 million college graduates and 835 bachelor degrees ranked by mid-career median salary, or the fitted salary one makes after working in the field for over 10 years. By definition, a fitted salary combines the base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime, and other forms of cash earnings.

    Stock compensation was not included when considering the annual salary of each college major but can be a significant portion of pay for specific executive and high-tech jobs. Further, a wage for the noted college major does not include the cash value of retirement benefits or the amount of other non-cash benefits, including health care and other ancillary benefits. PayScale's salaries, which were inflation-adjusted to June 2018 dollars to ensure apples-to-apples comparison over the data collection period, do not directly reflect that of the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). For most of the majors, BLS salaries are higher, even though the level of education required is the same.

    Any ties in salaries were broken by early career pay, or by the fitted salary one makes in zero to five years on the job. Stacker also included the percentage of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place, suggesting that it could be true that when you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. The research also revealed some truth in the term starving artist: Many of the monetarily modest majors including singing, dancing, and artistry.

    Additionally, several low-paying teaching majors on the list confirm the plight of educators who graduate but can't make ends meet on a minimum salary. Between rising student debt and inflation, it is likely many who majored in the noted subjects have second jobs to pay the bills.

    Read on to find out the 50 college majors that earn the least money.

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  • #50. Athletic training

    - Early career pay: $38,600
    - Mid-career pay: $55,400

    Athletic trainers may not make an exceptionally high salary, but demand for their services is projected to grow. Many older Americans are becoming aware of the effects of sedentary lifestyles and are investing in their health.

  • #49. Tourism & travel

    - Early career pay: $39,700
    - Mid-career pay: $55,300

    California State University touts high figures when promoting its travel and tourism major, including that one in every nine U.S. jobs depends on the industry, and that travel and tourism support over 8 million jobs nationwide. According to the school, management positions with a potential of earning more than $100,000 annually include working as a convention and visitors bureau director or a wedding planner.

  • #48. Special education

    - Early career pay: $38,800
    - Mid-career pay: $55,300

    There are several special education career paths to take after majoring in the subject, aside from teaching. Becoming a residential manager, preschool director, or direct support professional is why some choose to the undergraduate major before getting their master's degree. Working with the disabled is in high demand due to teachers retiring and more students needing help.

  • #47. Rehabilitation services

    - Early career pay: $32,800
    - Mid-career pay: $55,100

    Rehabilitation services salaries may be low, but part of these numbers include very low average pay for rehabilitation aides. These workers make an average of just $10 an hour which is much lower than the higher end of the spectrum for the profession—occupational therapists, who top out at approximately $46 an hour.

  • #46. Clinical social work

    - Early career pay: $41,400
    - Mid-career pay: $55,000

    Clinical social workers provide valuable services to people in various types of trouble. So why are salaries so low? In part due to an oversupply of clinical social workers, which drives salaries down.

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  • #45. Social welfare

    - Early career pay: $44,500
    - Mid-career pay: $54,800

    Social welfare salaries are low in part because of the communities they serve. Serving needy populations, the market capitalization on such professions is low, meaning that there are limited commercial opportunities to drive higher salaries.

  • #44. Biblical studies & practical ministries

    - Early career pay: $34,600
    - Mid-career pay: $54,800

    While senior pastors can expect to earn more than those just starting out, anyone in the biblical studies and practical ministries professions faces inherent earnings issues in a capitalist economy. Religious organizations are nonprofits and face intrinsic caps on how much they are likely to earn, limiting the amount they can pay their staff.

  • #43. Communication sciences & disorders

    - Early career pay: $40,300
    - Mid-career pay: $54,600

    Communications sciences and disorders specialists address an array of issues that technology may be rendering less reliant on therapy. For example, cochlear implants for deaf children and babies can now be purchased for as low as $530 with insurance, reducing the need for therapy as a greater number of patients can hear via the technology.

  • #42. Hospitality & the culinary arts

    - Early career pay: $40,900
    - Mid-career pay: $54,400

    Sheer oversupply may be why some hospitality and culinary arts salaries are dropping. The number of new restaurants opening limits the ability of each restaurant to draw in large crowds of customers, dropping earnings and wages.

  • #41. Speech & hearing

    - Early career pay: $40,300
    - Mid-career pay: $54,200

    Speech and hearing professionals’ salaries suffer from improved technology. Hearing aids have become increasingly sophisticated, reducing the need for much administrative assistance after purchase.

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