Huffington Post recently presented a slide show depicting the 13 worst paying college majors, accompanied by a link to the best paying college majors, the actual numbers and lists were compiled by PayScale, a website dedicated to providing salary data for virtually every career. The two lists focus on median salary numbers for starting pay and mid-career pay.
While it shouldn’t be a surprise that the best paying college majors are careers that require expertise in math and science skills, the lowest paying list offers some surprises along with career choices that have traditional been economically challenged.
Represented on the list more than any other core study, Education majors are confronted with poor paying jobs over the median life of the career followed by social and public careers such as social work and public health jobs. Children and Family Studies is rated the lowest starting salary of these jobs at a starting median salary $29,600 per year, that salary tops out at $40,500 by the middle of one’s career. Careers in Special Education fare better with a starting median salary of $34,300 and level to $47,800. Social Work starts at $32,200 and levels off at $44,000 at the mid way point of one’s career, public health starts at $35,500 and reaches $51,700, which is one of the highest of the mid-point salaries on the list.
What is disturbing is that each of these majors will invariably lead to a career that is crucial to maintaining a proper environment for people to live and grow. Education, social programs and public health are all staples of everyday living and, in most cases, are publicly funded careers that can come and go in an economic downturn and/or election cycle. One Tucson, Arizona teacher voices his opinion of the Huffington Post slide show at TucsonCitizen.com, including an anecdote that in which the writer’s daughter was choosing medicine over education as a field of study. The writer was happy about the prospect, even if Medicine is not included on the list of top 13 best paying majors.
Surprisingly, majors that don’t necessarily suffer from an image crisis are on the list as well. Culinary Arts, a major of career study that has been given an enormous boon by television programming promoting celebrity chefs and cook-offs, rates as one of the lowest starting median salaries on the list at $29,900 and doesn’t offer much more by mid-career leveling at $46,800. A recent Time Magazine feature explores the idea of for-profit cooking schools taking advantage of the popularity of the career. A major in recreation and leisure studies also makes the list with a starting median salary of $34,500 and a mid-career average of $49,100. The resort industry is a potent economic field yet it seems to provide few high paying jobs in comparison.
The list is rounded out with jobs in religious studies, theology, athletic trainers and majors in art and art history. Compared to a best of list that features, Petroleum Engineering with a median starting salary of $97,900 and mid-career salary of $155,000, is there any wonder where the culture in this country is headed?