These Majors Make the Most (and Least) Money After College

ooo got u
Nothing wrong with trade school, tho. | Monkey Business Images/shutterstock
Nothing wrong with trade school, tho. | Monkey Business Images/shutterstock

Art People don’t need the Internet to tell them that the value of their viking literature degree is in question--they have parents and society at large for that. In just the same way, med students are usually not questioning their worth when asked to monitor someone’s vitals during surgery. But Bankrate just published a new list of the most and least valuable college majors, and there are some surprising changes from last year’s results, bringing along new implications for the future. Plus, literature majors are NOT LAST, so dream on you Nordic intellectual, you. 

To create this list, Bankrate used information from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. The specifics of the data collection are relayed on the original page, so definitely check it out if you’re any major because people of all majors are smart and capable we just sometimes choose other paths!!!!...!!!

Soooo, without further ado, here’s the list: 

The five most valuable majors:

5. Electrical Engineering
Average income: $99,000
Unemployment rate: 2.7%

4. Genetics
Average income: $85,000
Unemployment rate: 1.2%

3. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences And Administration
Average income: $100,00
Unemployment rate: 2.2%

2. Nuclear Engineering
Average income: $98,100
Unemployment rate: 1.8%

1. Naval Architecture And Marine Engineering
Average income: $90,000
Unemployment rate: 1.6%

The five least valuable majors (sorry):

5. Fine Arts
Average income: $37,000
Unemployment rate: 4.8%

4. Linguistics and Comparative Language and Literature  
Average income: $40,000
Unemployment rate: 3.9%

3. Composition And Rhetoric 
Average income: $40,000
Unemployment rate: 3.9%

2. Visual and Performing Arts
Average income: $32,000
Unemployment rate: 4.1%

1. Drama and Theater Arts 
Average income: $35,500
Unemployment rate: 5.2%

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that engineering jobs fill 7 of the top 10 slots, but it is worth noting that careers in Genetics are steadily climbing up the list as biotechnology becomes more and more advanced. Job opportunities within this major extend from pharmacologists to plant breeders, and have a colorful in-between.  

And, of course, we can’t ignore the winner on the list; Bankrate pulled figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine that employment for Naval Architecture And Marine engineers will likely grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026. Plus, you’ll make bank. 

Majors that don’t quite make the top five but still show promise include Materials Science, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Finance, and Nursing.

But remember, this is your dream, not daddy’s. If you’re looking for a secure major but could not, for the life of you, pass physics, fear not-- less sciencey paths still rank decently. History is only halfway down, and Public Policy hangs fairly close by. Business degrees float around in the mix as well, but you’ll have to do some statistics.

Now for the tough stuff: the fact that art majors fill 6 of the 10 bottom spots is a concern for many, but there is still hope. On the more arty side, Journalism is 97 of 162, and both Liberal Arts and Literature are… at least 30 from the bottom? :) Point is, if you have a dream and you work hard, you're more likely to succeed than if you go into Naval Architecture because a list told you to.

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Ruby Anderson changed her major six times. Don't sweat it, babe.