Some College Majors Make You Money. And Some Make You, Well, Less.

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Last year the Census Bureau started asking respondents who’d graduated from college what their undergraduate major was. And alas for us arts/education/social work majors — after parsing the data, it turns out that certain majors (unsurprisingly) bring financial rewards.  Or, as Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce puts it, “It does matter what you major in.”

How much?  Perhaps as much as $91,000 a year. Median earnings for counseling-psychology majors topped out at $29,000, while the enterprising petroleum-engineering majors averaged a whopping $120,000. (These figures are for workers whose highest degree is a bachelor’s.)

And while those kinds of numbers might make you want to throw up your hands and start paging through an engineering textbook, it’s not quite as stark as it seems. The report also notes that 70 percent of counseling-psychology majors get graduate degrees, which raises their income by 67 percent. 

The data revealed all sorts of other interesting tidbits. Women majoring in visual and performing arts, physiology, and information science outearn men — but for all other majors, men outearn women.

Other categories don’t necessarily line up the way you’d think they might — for example, social science majors outearn biology/life science majors; communications/journalism majors outearn law and public policy majors.

Go parse the data for yourself, and let us know what you find — any surprises?



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