The 6 Worst Majors for Making Entry-Level Money: Report

Graduate students standing in a row, outdoors


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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

There are six college degrees that left graduates earning a median salary of $40,000 or less five years after graduation, according to an analysis by the New York Federal Reserve.

Graduate students standing in a row, outdoors

Top salaries typically belong to graduates in the technology and science fields. Barry Austin Photography

The analysis, published in February, took into account the earnings of recent college graduates and explored the labor market according to their college major. The New York Federal Reserve’s data analyzed the median salaries of graduates who were ages 22 to 27 in 2021.

The New York Federal Reserve found the six lowest-paying majors fell under social sciences and liberal arts. In comparison, the highest-paying majors were all in STEM industries, which include careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Notably, chemical engineers took the top spot when it came to high wages, with a median salary of $75,000 five years after graduation.

Take a look at how much the lowest-paying majors are earning, according to the New York Fed’s data. The underemployment — defined in the report as working in jobs that typically don’t require a college degree — and unemployment rates for each major are shared as well.

Entrants are arranged from the highest median salary to the lowest.

6. Performing arts

Ballet Dancer

Performing arts can include dance, music, and theater. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Median wage, early career: $39,000

Unemployment rate: 7.6%

Underemployment rate: 64%

People who majored in performing arts were earning a median wage of $62,000 as a mid-career worker in 2021, per the New York Federal Reserve.

According to Indeed, a US-based employment website, careers that performing-arts graduates embark on include choreography, which nets a national average salary of $28,289 a year. On the higher end of the market, creative directors earn a national average salary of $75,687 annually.

5. Leisure and hospitality

hotel staff

The leisure-and-hospitality industry includes hotels, food and beverage, and tourism. Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Median wage, early career: $38,000

Unemployment rate: 5.3%

Underemployment rate: 58.6%

Graduates of leisure and hospitality can expect to earn $60,000 in their mid-careers, per the New York Federal Reserve.

Some of the jobs undertaken by graduates include assistant general manager, which pays an average of $43,943 annually, and on the higher end, regional manager, which pays an average of $52,669 a year, per Indeed.

4. Psychology

Woman psychologist talking to patient

Psychology can be a broad field, encompassing jobs from psychiatry to business. Getty

Median wage, early career: $37,400

Unemployment rate: 4.7%

Underemployment rate: 47.6%

Psychology graduates can expect to earn $65,000 at mid-career, per the New York Federal Reserve.

Some of the careers that psychology graduates embark on include therapy, which pays a national average of $67,600 a year, and psychiatry, which pays a national average of $219,482 annually, per Indeed.

According to Niche, psychology was the third-most-popular major for high-school graduates in 2022.

3. Social services

group of juvenile inmates

Social services often include counseling children and families. Richard Ross/Juvenile In Justice

Median wage, early career: $37,000

Unemployment rate: 3%

Underemployment rate: 27.7%

Social-services graduates earn $52,000 at mid-career, per the New York Federal Reserve.

Graduates with social-services degrees typically embark on careers in areas such as community outreach, which pays a national average of $42,103 a year, per Indeed. On the higher end, therapists earn an average annual salary of $75,019.

2. Family and consumer sciences

5 students in aprons listen to a cooking teacher

Careers in family and consumer sciences span from nutrition to family services. Claire Price/Insider

Median wage, early career: $37,000

Unemployment rate: 8.9%

Underemployment rate: 47.9%

Family and consumer sciences graduates earn $60,000 at mid-career, per the New York Federal Reserve.

Some of the jobs family and consumer sciences graduates take on include community service officer, which pays an average of $28,259 annually, and nutritionist, which pays a national average of $41,309 a year, per Indeed.

1. Theology and religion

The exterior of the church.

Some of the jobs that theology and religion graduates undertake include pastor and missionary. Square One Media.

Median wage, early career: $36,000

Unemployment rate: 3.6%

Underemployment rate: 35.5%

At mid-career, theology and religion graduates earn a median of $52,000 annually, per the New York Federal Reserve.

Some of the theology graduates become pastors, a role that earns a median salary of $42,936 a year, and missionary, which earns a median salary of $82,268 annually, per Indeed.



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