College Majors That Pay Off the Least

Some college majors pay off well, but unfortunately not all do. From a financial perspective, some college majors could be categorized as poor investments. While not every student looks at college from a return-on-investment point-of-view, they should at least be informed as to the likely expectation of income following graduation. The college major itself does do not limit the income potential of specific majors, but if the graduate pursues employment along typical avenues, remuneration is likely known.

To identify the college majors that pay off the least, 24/7 Wall Street examined average annual earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 (latest data available) American Community Survey which includes more than 170 majors. Respondents to the Survey were asked to list their college majors completed as part of a Bachelor’s degree program plus other questions on earnings, workweek and employment status. In cases where a person had multiple degrees, only the first degree listed was counted. And yes, even with multiple degrees, these people all earned less than $46,000 on average annually.

The 35 college majors with the lowest average annual pay are in the table below. Other metrics include unemployment rate for 2018 and total labor force with that major. Only one of the majors, Human Services and Community Organization, with a 4.0 percent unemployment rate was greater than the U.S. overall 3.9 percent unemployment rate for 2018 – per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From a positive perspective, all of these majors on average earned more than the $13,364 average annual salary for workers without a college degree.

To read the entire article from 24/7 Wall Street click Also take a look at the prior Stewart Blog listing the best paying jobs without a college degree at Among these 25 jobs, all pay on average more than $70,500 -- more than double many of the college majors included in this list.

Want to see the majors with best paying options? Click for a study based on 2019 that includes early- and mid-career incomes.

High earnings are not the exclusive driver for many college students. Still, college is not for everyone. And as this study shows, depending on what a student majors in at college may impact their earnings lifelong.