Thursday, November 10, 2011

College Majors, Unemployment, and Salaries

This is interesting. The Wall Street Journal posted a breakdown of college majors with the unemployment rates and salaries for each. If you're considering a college education, this could be a valuable resource in deciding on the path to choose. I come across quite a few young people who want to study psychology. Guess which major has the highest unemployment rate? Clinical Psychology with 19.5% unemployment.

There are many factors to consider when deciding what to do with your life. Don't pick a field based on whether people claim it pays a lot. When I was looking at enlisting, most people (including my dad) told me "Go electronics. You can make a lot of money in electronics". It worked out well for me. I liked electronics, and was able to get into IT and Engineering from my electronics background. It's fun for me. I met a lot of people in the Navy who didn't like electronics, but they had a 6 year commitment to work on electronics systems. Bummer. One guy got out of the Navy and drove a tow truck for a while. He liked it better than working on electronics.

Don't pick a field just because "I want to help people". Unless you're somebody like Rick Warren or Tony Robbins with a huge platform, "helping people"= poverty and living with your parents. Yes, people need to be helped, but being a public school teacher or social worker won't help as many people as you might think. Or Psychologist (see above). One of the highest paying degrees is "Petroleum Engineer." You really want to "help people"? Get that degree and find a synthetic fuel or a more efficient way to produce energy at a lower cost. That'll help a lot more people. But, Petroleum Engineer has an unemployment rate of around 5-6%.

Somehow I expected philosophy to be high up there. I enjoy studying philosophy, but as a hobby. Same for history. My Bachelor's Degree is in Information Technology.

Play with the WSJ chart. You can sort it by unemployment rate or several different salary calculations.
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