Getting ready for college? Here are worst-paying majors you should skip

Getting ready for college? Here are worst-paying majors you should skip


A New York Federal Reserve analysis has revealed that students who major in liberal arts, performing arts and theology earn the lowest salaries within five years after graduating from college, CNBC reported.

According to the analysis, these three out of 75 majors had the lowest annual income of $38,000.

Other low-paying majors included leisure and hospitality, history, fine arts, and psychology, all earning $40,000 or less per year which is slightly below the US personal income median of $40,480 as of 2022.

Lowest-paying college majors

Liberal arts graduates often receive lower wages due to factors such as their skills not being directly related to revenue generation or lack of well-paying jobs compared to the number of graduates, as seen in fine arts degrees.

Meanwhile, education majors are often paid less due to state governments’ inability to keep wages in line with inflation which has worsened in recent years, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Teachers also face worse career prospects later in their careers, with education majors being the worst paid among mid-career graduates aged 35 to 45.

Early childhood education majors in mid-career earn the least, with a median annual income of $48,000, only earning $8,000 more than their post-graduation earnings.

Here’s a list of college majors that pay the least right after college according to the analysis.

Majors Salary
Performing arts  $38,000
Theology + religion  $38,000
Leisure + hospitality $39,700
General social sciences $40,000
History  $40,000
Miscellaneous biological science $40,000
Fine arts $40,000
Treatment therapy $40,000
Nutrition sciences $40,000
Psychology  $40,000
Anthropology  $40,000
Family + consumer sciences $40,000
Social services $40,000
Elementary education $40,000
Early childhood education $40,000

Highest-paying college majors

In contrast, the highest-paid majors for both early and mid-career earners tend to be in science, technology, engineering and mathematics  (STEM) fields.

Engineers earn the highest median income right after college, with computer engineers earning $80,000 per year. Their pay increases to $133,000 by age 35-45, making them the highest of all majors.

Mid-career graduates earn more than the US personal income median of $40,480, with the median pay for all mid-career majors being $75,500.

This annual study based on US Census data from 2022, the most recent available.



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