Sunday, 17 March 2024 10:20

The Lowest Earning College Degrees Five Years into the Workforce

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A recent analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has highlighted the college majors that lead to the lowest earnings five years after graduation.

Earning Prospects Across Different Majors

Graduates with degrees in liberal arts, performing arts, and theology find themselves at the bottom of the earnings scale, with a median annual income of $38,000. This places them as the lowest earners among the 75 majors examined in the study. Other majors with limited earning potential include leisure and hospitality, history, fine arts, and psychology, each bringing in $40,000 or less annually.

This income level is slightly below the median personal income in the U.S., which stood at $40,480 in 2022, according to the latest U.S. Census data.

Challenges in Mid-Career Earnings

The financial outlook doesn't significantly improve for educators as they progress in their careers. Mid-career professionals, those aged 35 to 45, in early childhood education are among the lowest earners across all disciplines, with a median annual income of $48,000. This is only an $8,000 increase from their earnings shortly after graduation.

Conversely, graduates in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) experience the highest salary growth. Computer engineering majors lead the pack with an initial median salary of $80,000, which escalates to $133,000 by mid-career, marking the highest growth among all the fields studied.

This study draws on U.S. Census data from 2022, the most recent year available. It excludes currently enrolled students and focuses on the working-age population, aged 25 to 65, who are employed full-time and have at least a bachelor's degree.