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50 college majors that earn the least money

  • 50 college majors that earn the least money
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    50 college majors that earn the least money

    Career choices often are born for the love of money or the pursuit of dreams, and the choice of college majors sometimes foretells the financial future for undergraduates. Using PayScale's 2018-2019 College Salary Report, Stacker researched the 50 college majors that earn the least money. The 2018-2019 report surveyed 3.2 million college graduates and 403 bachelor degrees ranked by mid-career median salary, or the fitted salary one makes after working in the field for over 10 years. By definition, a fitted salary combines the base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime, and other forms of cash earnings.

    Stock compensation was not included when considering the annual salary of each college major but can be a significant portion of pay for specific executive and high-tech jobs. Further, a wage for the noted college major does not add the cash value of retirement benefits or the amount of other non-cash benefits, including health care.

    PayScale's salaries, which were inflation-adjusted to June 2018 dollars to ensure apples-to-apples comparison over the data collection period, do not directly reflect that of the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BSL). For most of the majors, BLS salaries are higher, even though the required amount of education is the same.

    Any ties in salaries were broken by early career pay, or by the fitted salary one makes in 0 to 5 years on the job. Stacker also included the percentage of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place, suggesting that it could be true that when you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. The research also revealed some truth in the term “starving artist,” with many of the monetarily modest majors including singing, dancing, and artistry.

    Additionally, several low-paying teaching majors on the list confirm the plight of educators who graduate but can't make ends meet on a minimum salary. Between rising student debt and inflation, it is likely many who majored in the noted subjects have second jobs to pay the bills.

    Read on to find out the 50 college majors that earn the least money.

    You may also like: College majors that go on to earn the most money

  • #50. Religion
    2/ Pixabay

    #50. Religion

    - Early career pay: $41,700
    - Mid-career pay: $62,700
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 58%

    A degree in theology can be spiritually fulfilling but not financially fruitful. Even the Bible suggests it is easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, suggesting professional clergy are not in the industry for money.

  • #49. Social science teacher education
    3/ Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

    #49. Social science teacher education

    - Early career pay: $42,100
    - Mid-career pay: $62,100
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    A social science teacher goes through a rigorous process to become an educator for the minimal early career pay of $42,000. After completing undergraduate and graduate degrees, depending on the state, a prospective student must become certified and licensed. After certification, the student must maintain professional development activities to be an educator. A student who majored in social science could also pursue a career as a demographer, an archaeologist, social worker, or historian.

  • #48. Secondary english teacher education
    4/ Billion Photos // Shutterstock

    #48. Secondary english teacher education

    - Early career pay: $40,700
    - Mid-career pay: $61,800
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 64%

    Though the early career pay is minimal, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the projected growth of high school teachers, who work the traditional 10-month school year, from 2016 to 2026 is 8%. The rise, equivalent to all other occupation averages, keeps many majors interested in the career that educates only ninth through 12th graders in English. While some states only require a bachelor's degree to teach on a secondary level, some states call for a master's degree for the specific major.

  • #47. Photography
    5/ Stock-Asso // Shutterstock

    #47. Photography

    - Early career pay: $41,200
    - Mid-career pay: $61,700
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 36%

    A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but it does not necessarily pay the same in dollars for photography majors. With an average mid-career pay of $61,000 in the competitive field, a prospective photography major must consider many hard truths, including working for free, getting burned out, and even watching beauty fade over time.

  • #46. Music industry
    6/ PrinceOfLove // Shutterstock

    #46. Music industry

    - Early career pay: $43,800
    - Mid-career pay: $61,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 38%

    Whether being a personal assistant to a famous recording artist or working with unrecognized songwriters, a music industry major is well versed in the business, technical, and musical components of the craft. Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music offers a plethora of majors for music industry students, including composition, film scoring, music theory, electronic production, and design. Alumna and Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge, Class of 1980, got her big break in the field.

  • #45. Tourism management
    7/ Dmitry Kalinovsk // Shutterstock

    #45. Tourism management

    - Early career pay: $42,000
    - Mid-career pay: $61,300
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 38%

    Though the pay for tourism management majors may be less than the annual average American income of about $56,000, it does pay in airline miles. After attaining a degree in the field, a student can become a resort manager or tourism center supervisor, or decide to travel as an international tour guide. But before majors get their passports, first comes a minimum of four years studying communications, business mathematics, history, a foreign language, social and behavioral sciences, economics, and ethics.

  • #44. Graphic arts
    8/ Panumas Yanuthai // Shutterstock

    #44. Graphic arts

    - Early career pay: $40,800
    - Mid-career pay: $61,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 38%

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows graphic design's future employment growth at a slower rate than the average occupation, but Rasmussen College details the nice-to-have benefits of the industry, such as job versatility, collaborating with other artists, and being the boss. “Graphic design lends itself very well to freelancing, for those who like the idea of working independently,” according to the college. Some states pay more for graphic designers, according to Forbes, which lists New York, Massachusetts, and California as the top-earning areas.

  • #43. Painting
    9/ Pixabay

    #43. Painting

    - Early career pay: $37,100
    - Mid-career pay: $61,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 41%

    A career in painting can offer career choices such as being a fine artist, professor, curator, art therapist, muralist, or art restoration specialist, among other roles. Some courses four-year graduates must take to attain their degree include art theory, art history, and art criticism, and critique. Proxy professions for someone who majored in painting include art director or graphic designer.

  • #42. Art
    10/ kojala // Shutterstock

    #42. Art

    - Early career pay: $39,400
    - Mid-career pay: $60,500
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 46%

    The cliché “starving artist” holds some financial merit for those who major in the subject that offers a maximum $60,500 mid-career salary. Art majors can achieve their master's degree in either photography, painting, sculpting, and graphic design to enhance their annual salary. Students who earn a doctorate in the subject can go on to become professors or employees of major artistic enterprises who make a minimum of six figures annually.

  • #41. Physical education teaching
    11/ Robert Kneschke // Shutterstock

    #41. Physical education teaching

    - Early career pay: $40,800
    - Mid-career pay: $60,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 71%

    Physical exercise is an important part of a student's daily curriculum, which could account for 71% of physical education alumni claiming their work makes the world a better place. Beyond having a bachelor's degree, students who major in the subject must become state certified in order to teach. Attaining a graduate degree in specialized physical education areas like athletic administration or sports management greatly increases the professional annual salary.

  • #40. Theater
    12/ Sociopath987 // Shutterstock

    #40. Theater

    - Early career pay: $37,300
    - Mid-career pay: $60,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 46%

    All the world's may be a stage for theater majors who go on to become Broadway performers. For students who don't choose to pursue stardom in the theater or on the big screen, there are dozens of other career choices for undergraduate majors in the subject. Becoming a director, producer, lighting designer, props master, stage manager, or dialect coach are some of the career choices students have after graduating. Theater majors start with four years of courses, including acting, dance, theater history, and design.

  • #39. General studies
    13/ Tyler Olson // Shutterstock

    #39. General studies

    - Early career pay: $41,100
    - Mid-career pay: $60,000
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 52%

    A general studies major knows about broad subjects like biological and social sciences, art, and humanities. The undergraduate academic degree in different topics prepares students for several different types of careers, according to online education platform WorldWideLearn.com. General studies majors can go on to become insurance sales agents, customer service representatives, advertising sales specialists, public relations professionals, and event planners. “Many students pursue a general studies degree as a way to earn credits while they decide on possible career paths,” according to the website.

  • #38. Theater/theater arts management
    14/ Pressmaster // Shutterstock

    #38. Theater/theater arts management

    - Early career pay: $47,500
    - Mid-career pay: $59,800
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 63%

    Theater arts management, which who also can be known as performing arts administration, combines “the world of business and the world of art,” according to the Princeton Review, an online test prep website. Budgeting for props, casting actors, and hiring a janitorial crew can all be eventual responsibilities of a student interested in the industry. Theater arts management majors must study economics, finance, drama, and accounting. After graduation, students often become production assistants to make contacts as they climb the industry ladder.

  • #37. Electronic media
    15/ Bloomicon // Shutterstock

    #37. Electronic media

    - Early career pay: $42,000
    - Mid-career pay: $59,800
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 44%

    There are a host of careers for electronic media (e-media) majors to choose from. Some choices include being a webcast producer, designer, and developer; a media planner, marketing specialist, web content manager, film editor, or program researcher. To hone their crafts, students often must attend a journalism school that offers mass communication programs, which include electronic media law courses. 

  • #36. Supervision & management
    16/ pixfly // Shutterstock

    #36. Supervision & management

    - Early career pay: $39,200
    - Mid-career pay: $59,800
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 60%

    Supervision and management majors must be proficient in critical thinking, problem-solving, and public speaking. The bachelor of applied science degree usually comes with a starting salary of $40,000. Graduates in this major may choose to pursue careers as a sales representative, marketing or sales manager, management analyst, general or operations manager, or a financial analyst or manager.

  • #35. Interior design & merchandising
    17/ VH-Studio // Shutterstock

    #35. Interior design & merchandising

    - Early career pay: $40,900
    - Mid-career pay: $59,600
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 43%

    Undergraduates of interior design and merchandising prepare for roles in retail or wholesale operations. Learning how to use an interior space to promote products with furniture, textiles, lighting, and color, and knowing codes and inspection regulations for safety and accessibility standards gives graduates a number of different career choices. Many who major in the subject work with engineers and architects. As of 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 66,500 positions available in interior design.

  • #34. Music composition
    18/ Syda Productions

    #34. Music composition

    - Early career pay: $46,300
    - Mid-career pay: $59,300
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 53%

    Music composition majors often go on to become educational instructors in schools or leaders of religious organizations. While music conductors and composers need a master's degree to work professionally, choir directors only need a bachelor's degree. Despite the 6% job growth by 2026, fierce competition remains for graduates entering the industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The number of people attending musical performances, such as symphonies and concerts, and theatrical performances, such as ballets and musical theater, is expected to remain steady,” according to the bureau.

  • #33. Drawing
    19/ Pixabay

    #33. Drawing

    - Early career pay: $37,000
    - Mid-career pay: $59,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 38%

    Career website Monster.com suggests several roles undergraduate students who major in drawing may pursue. Along with careers as a teacher or graphic designer, graduates can also go on to jobs as makeup artists or cake decorators. “If you love to draw, your passion could very well sketch out an impressive career path,” according to Monster. “And you'd be in good company: Some of the most notorious doodlers in history happened to be our presidents.”

  • #32. Printmaking
    20/ Dmytro Vietro // Shutterstock

    #32. Printmaking

    - Early career pay: $34,600
    - Mid-career pay: $59,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 35%

    Rending art concepts onto a surface is what printmakers do best, but the demand for the trade is declining. The Washington Post detailed that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics removed the job title from its career list. “The broad sector that includes printing has shed about a third of its jobs since the start of the Great Recession—more than every sector but clothing manufacturing, which also no longer has enough U.S. jobs to merit many lines in the database,” the newspaper reported. Some positions a graduate may pursue is art educator, pre-press designer, print prototype technician, curator, or community arts administrator.

  • #31. Instrumental music teacher education
    21/ Pixabay

    #31. Instrumental music teacher education

    - Early career pay: $42,300
    - Mid-career pay: $58,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 70%

    Both a bachelor's degree and a teaching certification are needed to become a music teacher, which rated high for alumni who say their work makes the world a better place. The National Association for Music Education confirms the statistics, reporting that 348 alumni who were interviewed are more than satisfied with their career path. “Of those who pursued a job, 93.6% of music education alums had a job in their field within one year of graduation,” according to the association.

  • #30. English teacher education
    22/ LStockstudio // Shutterstock

    #30. English teacher education

    - Early career pay: $38,900
    - Mid-career pay: $58,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 51%

    The love of literature and not money is why most students who major in the subject pursue becoming an English instructor. Teacher.org reports that English teachers who have a master's in the subject earn up to $5,000 more annually, with college professors earning the most. The average salary range for an English professor nationwide varies greatly, according to the organization, which reports that while California English professors make an average of $82,290 a year, Idaho post-secondary educators make an average of $43,700.

  • #29. Dance
    23/ Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

    #29. Dance

    - Early career pay: $41,100
    - Mid-career pay: $57,300
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 62%

    Dance majors may perform all around the world with a company or they may choose to teach toddlers in a small studio. Most students who pursue dance as a major have studied the art since their youth and understand the short career length. After a certain age, most older dancers become choreographers or instruct exercise classes, including Pilates or yoga. Some who major in the subject go onto teach ballroom dance or instruct patrons on cruise ships.

  • #28. Elementary special education
    24/ antoniodiaz // Shutterstock

    #28. Elementary special education

    - Early career pay: $42,300
    - Mid-career pay: $57,100
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 79%

    Working with students who have physical, mental, and emotional disabilities drives undergraduates to pursue the major that has one of the highest percentages of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that projected growth for special education teachers is 8% percent from 2016 to 2026 and “school enrollment and the demand for special education services should drive employment growth.”

  • #27. Music teacher education
    25/ SpeedKingz // Shutterstock

    #27. Music teacher education

    - Early career pay: $40,400
    - Mid-career pay: $56,900
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 61%

    Similar to an instrumental music teacher major, undergraduates in the subject must be certified to teach in a private, public, or charter school. The National Association for Music Education notes, “Not only will a great teacher understand that building blocks such as posture, breathing, and hand position are critical to beginners, they also understand that these fundamentals must be constantly reinforced throughout their student's schooling.”

  • #26. Wildlife biology
    26/ Pixabay

    #26. Wildlife biology

    - Early career pay: $39,700
    - Mid-career pay: $56,800
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 59%

    Studying aquatic and land animals in their natural habitats is at the core of wildlife biology. After majoring in the subject, graduates can expect to become either an aquatic or wildlife biologist, zoologist, wildlife manager, or marine mammologist. Other careers a student who majored in the subject could pursue include veterinarian or animal trainer. Most often, graduates land jobs in government or scientific organizations, or in higher education.

  • #25. Sculpture
    27/ Pixabay

    #25. Sculpture

    - Early career pay: $36,500
    - Mid-career pay: $55,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 47%

    Graduates with a sculpture major, which entails taking three-dimensional design, digital tools, video art, casting, and interactive media courses, can become working artists or designers. Though the early- and mid-career pay remains modest, some sculptors have made more by selling original casts of clay, plaster, metal, wood, and stone. Creating original art for aesthetic value rather than functional purpose has financial risks many artists who major in the subject are willing to take.

  • #24. Restaurant & food service management
    28/ Pixabay

    #24. Restaurant & food service management

    - Early career pay: $42,800
    - Mid-career pay: $55,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 38%

    Many who major in restaurant and food service management go on to manage food service chains or work for restaurant supply companies. Other graduates in the industry become catering directors or chefs after taking required courses in cooking, supervision, and finance. The East Coast Polytechnic Institute details five other creative career options a student who majored in the subject may pursue, including food public relations specialist, forger, recipe tester and developer, food stylist, and culinary trendologist.

  • #23. Tourism & travel
    29/ kireewong foto // Shutterstock

    #23. Tourism & travel

    - Early career pay: $37,700
    - Mid-career pay: $54,700
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 55%

    California State University touts high figures when promoting its travel and tourism major, including that one in every nine U.S. jobs depends on the industry, and that travel and tourism support more than eight million jobs nationwide. According to the school, management positions with a potential of earning more than $100,000 annually include working as a convention and visitors bureau director or a wedding planner.

  • #22. Nonprofit management
    30/ Rawpixel.com

    #22. Nonprofit management

    - Early career pay: $37,900
    - Mid-career pay: $53,800
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 76%

    It's no surprise that majoring in nonprofit management doesn't bring in a lot of money since it's right there in the title. Managing finances for charities, religious organizations, schools, and government agencies entails an understanding of funding, tax law, and human resources. After undergraduate courses, many who major in the subject get their master's degrees to manage in public administration, urban planning, public policy, and social work.

  • #21. Vocal performance
    31/ YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV // Shutterstock

    #21. Vocal performance

    - Early career pay: $39,200
    - Mid-career pay: $53,700
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 63%

     

    With 63% of alumni noting their work makes the world a better place and research proving the healing effects of music on pain, stress, and sleep, many students choose a vocal performance major. Berklee College of Music offers 12 diverse majors, but vocal performance is the largest. Majoring in the area requires singing with proper posture and breathing, as well as intonation and diction. Recital preparation, advanced vocal improvisation techniques, and private instruction courses usually are required in the major.

  • #20. Special education
    32/ Olesia Bilkei // Shutterstock

    #20. Special education

    - Early career pay: $37,900
    - Mid-career pay: $53,700
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 75%

    There are several special education career paths to take after majoring in the subject, aside from teaching. Becoming a residential manager, preschool director, or direct support professional is why some choose to the undergraduate major before getting their master's degree. Working with the disabled is in high demand due to teachers retiring and more students needing help.

  • #19. Art teacher education
    33/ antoniodiaz // Shutterstock

    #19. Art teacher education

    - Early career pay: $37,600
    - Mid-career pay: $53,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 61%

    Illinois art teacher Jill Britt told the Monmouth Daily Review Atlas newspaper that “she was always told if you never want to feel like you have a ‘job,' choose something you love, so I chose art.” After changing her major, Britt said she now contributes to an adolescents overall development, calling art education “the glue” that sticks all student curriculum together. A major upswing in arts education is inevitable, Brit believes.

  • #18. Ceramics
    34/ Pixabay

    #18. Ceramics

    - Early career pay: $40,900
    - Mid-career pay: $53,000
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 58%

    Students looking to major in ceramics will learn about the science behind materials, sculpture, and drawing. Courses in personal style development, wheel-throwing techniques, firing and kiln operation, oxidation, ceramic murals, mixed media, and slips and glazes are usually required to graduate. Many with a degree in ceramics go on to become professional potters, teachers, artists, or sculptors.

  • #17. Office administration
    35/ Gaudilab // Shutterstock

    #17. Office administration

    - Early career pay: $35,800
    - Mid-career pay: $52,100
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 56%

    Graduating with a major in office administration opens doors to many career paths, including medical office manager, staff specialist, executive assistant, management secretary, and purchasing consultant. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics details other career opportunities that do not require a degree but have comparable and higher annual salaries for those who major in the subject. Among those occupations are police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, who make $40,660, and administrative assistants, who make $38,880.

  • #16. History teacher education
    36/ Kucher Serhii // Shutterstock

    #16. History teacher education

    - Early career pay: $44,100
    - Mid-career pay: $51,900
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 42%

    Majoring in history teacher education likely means most graduates will teach the subject in elementary, secondary, or postsecondary schools. Being a history teacher, like other instruction degrees, requires those who major in the subject to become state-certified after student teaching. History teachers may work with special education teachers to make learning more accessible for students with learning difficulties and can work with debate teams, for example, because of their knowledge of current events.

  • #15. Music theory
    37/ Minerva Studio // Shutterstock

    #15. Music theory

    - Early career pay: $46,400
    - Mid-career pay: $51,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    A career after majoring in music theory can range from being a private or public music instructor to becoming a broadcast and film sound technician. The career website Indeed.com lists several occupations for music theory majors, including music editor, audio engineer and composer, note tracker, and database and research associate. With a mid-career pay reaching $51,400, pursuing the major often may have more to do with the love of melody than money.

  • #14. Applied management
    38/ Jacob Lund // Shutterstock

    #14. Applied management

    - Early career pay: $42,500
    - Mid-career pay: $51,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    Not to be confused with business management, which is the coordination of finances, applied management deals directly with the specific revision of policy and procedures in a business. Some colleges like Penn State are streamlining careers like baking and pastry art into their applied management major to pull more students into the school. After majoring in applied management, graduates often take management roles in either property, food service, hospitality, or health care.

  • #13. Photojournalism
    39/ PRESSLAB // Shutterstock

    #13. Photojournalism

    - Early career pay: $38,400
    - Mid-career pay: $50,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 63%

    Working for a newspaper or magazine is where many photojournalism majors land after graduating, while others choose to apply their talents at advertising agencies, marketing firms, or as wedding photographers. Like print journalism, photojournalism tells a story, only in pictures, not words, and photojournalists often document historic events.

  • #12. Elementary education
    40/ wavebreakmedia //Shutterstock

    #12. Elementary education

    - Early career pay: $37,400
    - Mid-career pay: $50,000
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 68%

    Majoring in elementary education means teaching and instructing adolescent-age students. Majors in the program must choose a specific subject to study ,including either math, history, science, or English. Some who major in the subject consider careers as guidance counselors, juvenile correction officers, long-term substitute teachers, online instructors, preschool teachers, or adjunct professors.

  • #11. Musical theater
    41/ GlebSStock

    #11. Musical theater

    - Early career pay: $41,800
    - Mid-career pay: $49,300
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 40%

    While many musical theater majors want starring roles as actors and musical directors, some prefer behind-the-curtain roles as scenic carpenters, lighting designers, or costume attendants. Several other career options for graduates are screenwriter, stage manager, choreographer, or producer.

  • #10. Voice & opera
    42/ Igor Bulgarin // Shutterstock

    #10. Voice & opera

    - Early career pay: $31,300
    - Mid-career pay: $48,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 55%

    Voice and opera students preparing to perform on a professional level after graduation must learn theatrical techniques and stage repertory through courses including diction, foreign languages, music theory, and humanities. While receiving private instruction during the undergraduate curriculum, students also perform in choral ensembles. Students who choose not to sing opera after studying the major can easily transition into other careers, including teaching art, drama, or music, or becoming a musical director or composer.

  • #9. Middle school education
    43/ SpeedKingz // Shutterstock

    #9. Middle school education

    - Early career pay: $38,000
    - Mid-career pay: $48,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 74%

    After majoring in middle school education, graduates go on to teach students in grades 5 through 9. Teaching that specific age group entails taking undergraduate courses in a breadth of subjects, including English, science, mathematics, and social studies. Washington University in St. Louis suggests those majoring in middle school education may consider adding a concentrated study in their curriculum since “middle schools are interdisciplinary in nature and teachers who have expertise in more than one content field may have an advantage in the job market.”

  • #8. Metals & jewelry
    44/ Martinez Studio // Shutterstock

    #8. Metals & jewelry

    - Early career pay: $34,900
    - Mid-career pay: $48,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    Those who major in metal and jewelry should prepare for several possible career paths, according to The Princeton Review, which notes that “you'll acquire the skills you'll need to pursue a career in retail, design, and many other fields.” Courses in casting, forging, and stone setting are a few of the classes required in the program that teaches students how to use metalsmithing equipment, including ultrasonic cleaners, ring sizers, sandblasters, enameling kilns, rolling mills, and buffing machines.

  • #7. Early childhood & elementary education
    45/ Iam_Anupong // Shutterstock

    #7. Early childhood & elementary education

    - Early career pay: $36,400
    - Mid-career pay: $45,400
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 75%

    Students who major in early childhood and elementary education prepare to teach in both preschool and afterschool programs, as well as kindergarten through sixth grade. Graduates must become certified to instruct students in whatever state they choose for work. With further schooling, some graduates of the major go onto to become administrators, such as principals, superintendents, directors of curriculum, and college deans.

  • #6. Elementary teaching
    46/ Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

    #6. Elementary teaching

    - Early career pay: $38,500
    - Mid-career pay: $44,000
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    Elementary teaching majors will go on to teach kindergarten through eighth grade. Courses in classroom management and curriculum and instruction help prepare future graduates to teach. A core group of classes, including English, mathematics, history, social studies, foreign languages, and science are required for all elementary teaching majors, who must become certified in the state they choose to work in.

  • #5. Wildlife, fish, & conservation biology
    47/ Mark Van Scyoc

    #5. Wildlife, fish, & conservation biology

    - Early career pay: $37,200
    - Mid-career pay: $43,900
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 59%

    Loving land and aquatic animals is what drives most students who major in wildlife, fish, and conservation biology to pursue careers in the field. Employment search engine ZipRecruiter lists several jobs available to graduates ranging from $31,000 to $54,000 in annual salary. Some of the positions are conservation camp counselor, natural resource specialist, supervisory biologist, and fish and wildlife technician. Many graduates go on to work for federal or state agencies.

  • #4. Early childhood education
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    #4. Early childhood education

    - Early career pay: $33,400
    - Mid-career pay: $40,500
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: 77%

    A child's cognitive, emotional, and language development occur in the first five years of life, making early childhood education critical in an adolescent's academic career. The 77% of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place are teaching the next generation of leaders, yet it is one of the lowest-paying majors on the list, further proving those who choose to enter the field are likely more concerned about the community than salary.

  • #3. Early childhood special education
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    #3. Early childhood special education

    - Early career pay: $35,500
    - Mid-career pay: $37,900
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    Early childhood special education is both a challenging and low-paying career that requires a lengthy amount of schooling. After attaining an undergraduate degree, most prospective teachers who want to teach preschool children with special needs must get their master's degrees. Some basic courses required in an early childhood special education major include early learning through play, teaching linguistically and culturally diverse children, and psychological factors in young children with disabilities.

  • #2. Piano performance
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    #2. Piano performance

    - Early career pay: $38,100
    - Mid-career pay: $36,200
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    Unless a prospective student of the major has the piano-playing talent of Liberace or Elton John, it is likely he or she will not exceed the mid-career pay of $36,200. Work in the major entails mostly private instruction by a professor. Other courses could include recital preparation and improvisation, and learning various piano styles.

  • #1. Metalsmithing
    51/ Lukas Pobuda // Shutterstock

    #1. Metalsmithing

    - Early career pay: $37,000
    - Mid-career pay: $32,500
    - Percent of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place: N/A

    With a mid-career salary of only $32,500, metalsmithing is the major that officially earns the least amount of money. Similar to the metal and jewelry listed at #8, the major of this study learns casting, and forging specifically with metals. Other techniques learned are raising, planishing, soldering, and metal fabrication. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the 2018 median pay for the major at $39,440 annually and noted a metal worker's projected job growth is -7% from 2016 to 2016.

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