College Degrees With Low-Paying Prospects
Some degrees are about as useful as an education in underwater basket weaving. The sad thing is that underwater basket weaving might be more lucrative and financially rewarding than many of these majors. There's a reason why many parents hope their children grow up to be doctors and lawyers and not artists or musicians.
However, it’s not always liberal arts degree holders that get the worst deal. From engineering to the sciences, there are plenty of low-paying majors to go around.
The median pay for employed writers and authors isn't too bad — $62,170 per year. But with non-existent job growth and a massive decline in employment opportunities for creative writers, finding a job can be challenging.
To be, or not to be, a philosophy major: When it comes to financial and job growth outlook, the answer is obvious. A bachelor's degree in philosophy is virtually useless, though students willing to pursue a master's degree can earn a decent amount of money teaching philosophy in colleges and universities.
There's no guarantee that a graduate with a sociology degree will secure a well-paying career opportunity. While a sociologist with a master's degree or more can earn about $82,050 per year, in 2018, there were only 3,000 sociologists employed in the United States.
English literature is a surprisingly good choice as a major, as it opens many doors to more significant opportunities as well as several diverse career paths. Majoring in English composition, on the other hand, can be an unmitigable disaster. With broad outcomes and expectations, many English composition programs end up doing very little for employers and graduates alike.
Studying societies around the world to better understand humanity's past, present, and future is a noble endeavor. Unfortunately, nobility and profitability don't often intertwine. Experienced and luckily employed anthropologists can expect to earn about $62,410 a year, but that's with a master's degree and plenty of experience.
Drama and Theater
Most students pursuing drama and theater have no misconceptions about how financially rewarding their degrees are. Still, there are always a few hopeful students who are certain their degree will lead to a renowned and successful acting career. Be warned, fame-lovers.
Indiana Jones spawned a generation of children eager to get their brushes dirty in search of ancient civilizations. What Indy failed to mention is how long it takes to get anywhere in the career. No doubt Harrison Ford wasn’t told the odds.
The 'fine arts' include drawing, painting, sculpting and much more. Every little kid that wanted to grow up and be an artist and create things would no doubt lose their mind while pursuing a fine arts degree.
Liberal Arts and Studies
A liberal arts and studies degree can be fun and exciting to the right student. However, to employers, it doesn't say much besides, "This applicant couldn't decide what they wanted to study." There are many specific degrees within the liberal arts field that make graduates more attractive to employers.
As mental health continues to receive considerable public attention and focus, the need for psychologists and counselors continues to grow. However, a bachelor's degree isn't going to open many doors for psychology majors. Without a master's degree, graduates are left psychoanalyzing where they went wrong.
Creative minds prefer creative pursuits, but those who major in art history are going to have to put their creativity to the test when finding a job. Art historians are in high supply but low demand, resulting in lackluster career opportunities.
People blessed with the gift of music are a rare and valuable part of any culture or society. However, there isn’t much demand for degrees in music, probably because of the massive number of music students that graduate every year.
It’s tempting to believe that every chef is employed in a fancy restaurant with a fantastic salary where they eat well and have plenty of opportunity for career growth. Surprise, surprise, that perception is entirely wrong. Even experienced, gifted head chefs only earn about $48,460 per year.
There's only one way to make a criminal justice degree financially worthwhile: Get hired by the government to work in an agency, like the FBI. Otherwise, prospects are bare and usually disappointing. While experienced criminal investigators and detectives can earn about $85,000 a year, job opportunities are difficult to come by.
Becoming a fashion designer takes a lot of talent, an even greater amount of skill and a massive, earth-crushing amount of good fortune. Many entry-level fashion designers are self-employed, seeking clients to work with on a case-to-case basis. Pay isn't consistent, either.
At first glance, a degree in communications seems absolutely silly. At second glance, it still seems that way. Like other degrees that prove to be practically worthless because of their ambiguity and broad curriculum, a communications degree can be a terrible choice.
Piety is an important aspect of many religions, so it makes sense that religious workers earn even less than fine artists or musicians — right? Pastors and other religious workers earn only about $17.49 an hour.
Early Childhood Education
The formative years of people’s lives are important. Personality develops, belief systems begin to form and kids learn to tie their shoes. Well, some of us do. And yet, preschool teachers and early childhood educators make a miserably small amount of money.
A degree in a language, such as Spanish, German or Mandarin, can open up distant horizons and allow for unique travel experiences. However, it can also lead to a life of financial frustration and disappointment. While teaching isn't the only career opportunity for those majoring in a language, additional career paths pay about the same.
Properly trained dancers seem to be born with a grace and balance that eludes most people. However, professional dancers and choreographers only earn $18.17 per hour. That's not a wage that results in fancy living, grace or no grace.
Wildlife biologists and zoologists are on the front lines every day, recording and observing animal behavior to conserve and protect every species currently alive on the planet today. It's a huge undertaking, and one that requires hundreds of thousands of well-educated individuals — right?
Unlike musicians, who often specialize in a particular instrument or music style within their degree program, graduates with a music theory degree don't have much to share with employers beyond an understanding of the concept and theory of music, which isn't terribly impressive.
Some people were born to grow up and take on the gray, boxy, cubicle-life. Those with a secret love for the feel of warm, fresh copies, the smell of ink or the sounds of staplers may be attracted to an office administration degree.
The sweet spot between photography and journalism, photojournalism can be an exciting, attractive career. Sadly, it's not a very financially beneficial one. Considering how often photojournalists are required to travel and the sometimes dangerous situations they are required to be in, it's amazing that the average annual pay for those employed in this career isn't higher.
Though it may have a more long-winded name nowadays, metalsmithing is at the core of a metallurgical engineering degree. By the way, they do teach metalsmithing in some colleges and universities. It is not yet a lost art.
Recreation and Leisure Studies
If people drive you crazy but nature soothes you, a degree in recreation and leisure studies may be right for you — as long as you're willing to live on less than $64,000 a year. That doesn’t sound terrible until you consider you’ll probably have to wait years or more to find the right career opportunity.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Family and consumer sciences sound like a made-up field, and it kind of is. Students enrolled in a family and consumer sciences program study nutrition, retail management, community issues and early childhood education. If all of these topics seem pretty diverse, that's because they are.
Educators that teach kindergarten and elementary school students earn more than their preschool counterparts, but not by much. The average annual salary of a US primary school teacher in 2018 was $57,980. Schools are getting better at retaining teachers, which lowers job growth significantly.
Beauticians and makeup artists work on commercial projects such as television shows and movies and with individual clients for weddings, photoshoots and special occasions. But for all the gorgeous affluence cosmetologists bring to the world, their bank accounts are quite ugly.
Visual and Performing Arts
A degree in visual and performing arts can result in a long-term, rewarding career in the art field. However, most graduates who earn this degree suffer before finding financial salvation, and many never make it at all.