College pays off. But with some degrees, it pays off better.
According to the most recent U.S. Census survey, college graduates make on average $20,000 more a year than non-college grads, and the unemployment rate for non-college graduates is double that of those with college degrees.
On Monday, Money College ran a story on the 10 highest paying college majors, based on Payscale.com's annual report. Today, we're taking a look at the other side of the equation -- the lowest paying undergraduate college degrees.
You might notice the two most prevalent fields on this list include altruistic (social work, teaching, hospitality) and artistic careers, both of which function to nurture and color society. Remember, money can't buy everything.
1. Social work. As far as selfless careers go, social work takes the cake. The good news is that job opportunities in this field numerous. According to the National Association of Social Workers and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 30% this year. And while social work can improve the quality of life for countless individuals, it won't line your pocket.
Average starting salary: $33,400. Average mid-career salary: $41,600.
2. Elementary education. Let's imagine a world without elementary school teachers, and we've got a world where no one even learns the fundamental math or science necessary to ever take up a degree in engineering or physics. Sounds like a scary (and unprofitable) place.
Average starting salary: $33,000. Average mid-career salary: $42,400
3. Theology. Spirituality goes hand-in-hand with self-sacrifice. Theology and religious study majors learn that money is connected with worldly pleasures; they also learn that money can be used for good -- it all depends on how it's spent. Is it selfishly hoarded, or is it used to help people in some way? And apparently, the Pope doesn't make a salary. But neither does he have any expenses.
Average starting salary: $34,800. Average mid-career salary: $51,500.
4. Music. My dad bought me a shirt when I graduated college (with an English degree) that said, "I don't own a car, I can't afford my rent, but I'm in a band!" I don't know where the shirt is now, I probably sold it on eBay to pay my gas bill.
Average starting salary: $34,000. Average mid-career salary: $52,000.
5. Spanish. I wouldn't take the inclusion of Spanish on this list as a reason not to major -- or better yet, double major -- in the language. Knowledge of Spanish may help you land business or government jobs. Learning a second language also opens up an entire universe of literature, music, and art. Besides, 21 countries list Spanish as an official language. Take a look at some of the career opportunities for the bilingual.
Average starting salary: $35,600. Average mid-career salary: $52,600.
6. Horticulture. If greenbacks make you green with envy you may want to reconsider your commitment to horticulture -- because you may not make much in this field, though the perspectives don't seem too unsatisfying to me. But as a horticulturist might say, "If your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life."
Average starting salary: $37,200. Average mid-career salary: $53,400.
7. Education. A degree in education rakes in more than a degree in elementary education -- and, it makes sense. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment opportunities for primary, secondary, and special ed teachers are expected to grow by an average of 14% over the next decade.
Average starting salary: $36,200. Average mid-career salary: $54,100.
8. Hospitality and tourism. I wouldn't say taking a job in hospitality and tourism is a bad idea. The benefits of a career such as this may surpass the disadvantages -- you likely receive tips (which aren't added into the average salaries present in this data) and discounts on travel expenses. Not bad, considering an average mid-career salary still allows for a comfortable lifestyle.
Average starting salary: $37,000. Average mid-career salary: $54,300.
9. Fine arts. Often degrees in fine arts are pursued for personal growth and development. If life is an art, why not study it? Except for the fact it doesn't pay much.
Average starting salary: $35,800. Average mid-career salary: $56,300.
10. Drama. OK, so you probably won't make it to Hollywood and among the ranks of multi-millionaire stars like Nicolas Cage or Meryl Streep. But maybe you'll invest in your love for the stage -- and you'll likely take away some good acting tips for job interviews. And just by reading WalletPop and Money College, you're less likely to actually end up like Nic Cage -- financially over extended and foreclosed on.
Average starting salary: $35,600. Average mid-career salary: $56,600.
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