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College majors with the lowest unemployment

  • Minerva Studio // Shutterstock
    1/ Minerva Studio // Shutterstock

    College majors with the lowest unemployment

    As the cost of higher education soars, many students and their family members have become increasingly concerned about choosing the right major. While there’s no clear-cut answer about the best program, and it varies from student to student depending on individual strengths and interests, there are a number of ways to ensure you’re choosing a major that will be worth it in the end.

    One important thing to consider: the employment rate. Looking at how many people who graduate in the major you are interested in who are gainfully employed is vital. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a report this past Jan. 12 titled The Labor Market Outcomes of College Graduates by Major.

    The report ranked 73 majors by their unemployment rate (which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as “people who do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the past four weeks, and are currently available for work”), while also considering factors like the underemployment rate (“the condition in which people in a labor force are employed at less than full-time or regular jobs or at jobs inadequate with respect to their training or economic needs”), their median wages, and the number of students who went on to earn graduate degrees.

    Find out where your desired major ranks, and which majors provide the most stability.

    ALSO: College majors that go on to earn the most money

  • Tilo Mittelstrass // Wikipedia Commons
    2/ Tilo Mittelstrass // Wikipedia Commons

    #73. Mass media

    Unemployment rate: 7.4%

    Underemployment rate: 56.1% (Rank: #64 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 19.3%

    Out of the 73 majors ranked by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, mass media had the highest level of underemployment and unemployment. Students with this type of degree often work in television and movie producing, social media management, or web content production. But the overwhelming truth is that there just aren't as many jobs in these fields as there are graduates, so many mass media majors go into careers outside their fields of study.

     

  • None // Pxhere
    3/ None // Pxhere

    #72. Fine arts

    Unemployment rate: 6.4%

    Underemployment rate: 58.5% (Rank: #66 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $32,000

    Mid-career median wage: $56,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 22.7%

    Students who graduate with a fine arts degree that focuses on a certain form of art (installations, painting, sculpture, etc.) will continue to work in that form while bouncing among short-term gigs, commissions, and residencies. Others will find positions in museums and as archivists. The United States notoriously doesn't place a lot of monetary value on art, so finding long-term positions can be difficult for fine arts graduates.

     

  • Thomas Taylor Hammond / Wikimedia Commons
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    #71. English language

    Unemployment rate: 6.4%

    Underemployment rate: 49.8% (Rank: #49 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 45.7%

    English is the most commonly spoken language in the world, with over 300 million native speakers. Those who pursue a degree in the language usually become teachers—most commonly in primary and secondary education departments or teaching it as a foreign language. English majors also often continue their education. Unlike majors like medicine, English lacks a specific career path, a prime factor in its under-employment and unemployment rates.

  • Kalamazoo Public Library // Wikimedia Commons
    5/ Kalamazoo Public Library // Wikimedia Commons

    #70. Liberal arts

    Unemployment rate: 6.3%

    Underemployment rate: 57% (Rank: #65 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $57,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 27.9%

    Suffering from a similar issue, liberal arts majors tend to be under-employed and unemployed because their major lacks a defined career path. Liberal arts majors go into everything from politics to teaching to social services to marketing to nonprofit work. They also often lose out on jobs to those who have previously studied in that particular arena; for example, more marketing jobs go to those with marketing degrees than those with liberal arts degrees.

     

  • afunkydamsel // Flickr
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    #69. Philosophy

    Unemployment rate: 6.2%

    Underemployment rate: 49.5% (Rank: #47 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 56.1%

    Philosophy majors learn some valuable skills while in school, like analytical thinking, persuasive writing, and public speaking. So while they have a solid and highly transferable skill set, the problem tends to be convincing employers that a lack of practical experience shouldn't be an issue. The most common jobs for philosophy majors are in academia, politics, public relations, and human resources.

     

  • Babakathy // Wikimedia Commons
    7/ Babakathy // Wikimedia Commons

    #68. Earth sciences

    Unemployment rate: 5.8%

    Underemployment rate: 47.4% (Rank: #40 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $62,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 46.2%

    Earth science has a decently low unemployment rate, but an alarmingly high underemployment rate. Those with this type of degree often go on to hold government jobs (working on projects like mapping, conservation, and designing policy), or they work for oil companies, in mining, or for environmental consulting firms. Currently, not much money is being poured into environmental concerns, a major factor in the underemployment rate.

     

  • Fred W. Baker III // Defense Dept.
    8/ Fred W. Baker III // Defense Dept.

    #67. Anthropology

    Unemployment rate: 5.7%

    Underemployment rate: 60.6% (Rank: #68 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $30,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 48%

    According to the American Anthropological Association, anthropology careers are set to grow 4% by 2024. Most anthropology majors continue to work in academia, becoming professors themselves. Others work in the government, doing things like cultural resource management and natural resource management. Far fewer work in museums and on digs. Universities and the government are the two primary employers of anthropology majors, and the limited positions in both lead to a high underemployment rate.

     

  • brewbooks // Flickr
    9/ brewbooks // Flickr

    #66. General social sciences

    Unemployment rate: 5.6%

    Underemployment rate: 49% (Rank: #44 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 38.4%

    It may come as a rude surprise to general social science majors, but there are few jobs that require a degree in the subject—which leaves many students scrambling to prove that their skills will be an advantage in overcrowded areas. For example, social science majors find careers in industries like tourism, town planning, retail, teaching, media, and management.

     

  • PxHere
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    #65. Mathematics

    Unemployment rate: 5.6%

    Underemployment rate: 32% (Rank: #23 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $48,000

    Mid-career median wage: $80,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 52.5%

    If financial security is a major concern for you, then a degree in math could be a great choice. As long as you can land a good job, that is. Most math jobs are in sectors like technology and business, with a few lucky graduates finding fulfilling roles in specialized law and medicine fields. With only 32% of graduates underemployed, math can be a pretty safe field choice.

     

  • Allie_Caulfield // Flickr
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    #64. History

    Unemployment rate: 5.5%

    Underemployment rate: 51.2% (Rank: #55 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $36,000

    Mid-career median wage: $65,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 49.2%

    Those with a history degree have a wide variety of career options after graduation. They can be educators, researchers, journalists, archivists, librarians, and nonprofit owners. This wealth of opportunities allows for a relatively small unemployment rate, especially for those with a graduate degree, who have more opportunities open to them.

     

  • Intel Free Press // Wikimedia Commons
    12/ Intel Free Press // Wikimedia Commons

    #63. Engineering technologies

    Unemployment rate: 5.5%

    Underemployment rate: 39.1% (Rank: #33 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $50,000

    Mid-career median wage: $78,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 23%

    Engineering technology degrees require fewer math courses, and tend to be more focused on application compared with general engineering, which focuses more on theory. Graduates in this field go on to be sales engineers, computer hardware engineers, and electrical engineering technicians. The only job force in this group that's growing is computer hardware engineers—the other two are seeing a decrease in demand, which could be a reason for the 5.5% unemployment rate.

     

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture // Wikimedia Commons
    13/ U.S. Department of Agriculture // Wikimedia Commons

    #62. Nutrition sciences

    Unemployment rate: 5.4%

    Underemployment rate: 48.1% (Rank: #41 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 45.8%

    There is a projected 16% growth rate for this job by 2024, which makes now a perfect time to begin job hunting. An aging baby boomer population and an increasingly health-conscious society are the driving factors behind the growth and the low unemployment rate. Nutritional science majors go on to work in hospitals, spas, restaurants, and private practices, providing nutritional consultations to individuals and companies for a variety of reasons.

     

  • Ronald A. Dallatorre // Wikimedia Commons
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    #61. Information systems and management

    Unemployment rate: 5.3%

    Underemployment rate: 41.8% (Rank: #35 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $50,000

    Mid-career median wage: $75,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 24.6%

    As our world becomes more and more automated, demand for IT degrees will continue to increase. For example, those who majored in information systems and management can find work in fields like cyber security and data analysis, or can become software engineers, IT technicians, and penetration testers. Expect to see the unemployment rate continue to drop in this and related fields.

     

  • Oregon State University // Flickr
    15/ Oregon State University // Flickr

    #60. Pharmacy

    Unemployment rate: 5.3%

    Underemployment rate: 27% (Rank: #19 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $45,000

    Mid-career median wage: $115,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 57.5%

    Chances are you've had a prescription filled by a pharmacist at some point in your life. Although insurance issues make it harder for the average American to visit a doctor regularly, most still get sick at some point. As long as people continue to take medicine—everything from that Z-pack to birth control, and want to do it safely—the demand for certified pharmacists should remain steady.

     

  • Neddy1234 // Wikimedia Commons
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    #59. Foreign language

    Unemployment rate: 5.2%

    Underemployment rate: 49.4% (Rank: #46 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $32,500

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 48.6%

    As global connectivity increases, the demand for those who can fluently speak two or more languages will increase, as well. Foreign language majors can find employment as hospitality and travel workers, in international banking offices, with foreign embassies, and even in the CIA and Department of Defense. 

     

  • None // Pxhere
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    #58. Interdisciplinary studies

    Unemployment rate: 5.1%

    Underemployment rate: 51% (Rank: #54 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $36,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 36.7%

    Interdisciplinary studies allows students to customize their areas of study to fit their own needs. This means that these degrees work best for students who have a clear idea of what they want to do after graduation, and that students who major in interdisciplinary studies literally go into every imaginable field. While in a best-case scenario this can lead to a fulfilling career, often interdisciplinary studies students aren't able to land their dream jobs after graduation or are faced with hiring freezes, leading to a good number of them being underemployed.

     

  • Kerry Gershaneck // Wikimedia Commons
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    #57. Political science

    Unemployment rate: 5%

    Underemployment rate: 50.6% (Rank: #53 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $75,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 51.5%

    Most political science majors end up working in politics. They become everything from policy analysts to legislative assistants to political consultants to political campaign staffers. While politics can be a tough industry to crack (judging by the number of underemployed majors), once you're in, it can be a lucrative and exciting field.

  • Evan-Amos // Wikimedia Commons
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    #56. Biology

    Unemployment rate: 5%

    Underemployment rate: 44.2% (Rank: #36 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $33,000

    Mid-career median wage: $63,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 63.5%

    The top jobs for recently graduated biology majors include biochemists, biological technicians, genetic counselors, and health communications specialists. For students who decide to pursue a graduate degree, biology is a good foundation for medicine and nursing. Plenty of biology majors also go into teaching. Biology is a more general science than chemistry or physics, which accounts for its relatively high unemployment rate when compared with other sciences.

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    #55. Commercial art and graphic design

    Unemployment rate: 5%

    Underemployment rate: 38.3% (Rank: #30 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $59,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 10.7%

    While graphic designers are in high demand, an expensive university degree is not the only way to enter into the field. There are plenty of classes, workshops, and certificates that allow nontraditional students to learn the skills they need to succeed in the industry. And like in any creative field, a strong portfolio is often more essential than a diploma. This leaves a gap between the number of commercial art and graphic design graduates and the number of jobs that are actually filled by them.

  • tiyowprasetyo // Pixabay
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    #54. Psychology

    Unemployment rate: 4.9%

    Underemployment rate: 49.7% (Rank: #48 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $33,500

    Mid-career median wage: $55,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 49.9%

    As society continues to stress the importance of mental health, it would seem logical that demand for graduates holding psychology degrees would increase, as well. However, it doesn't seem that the two are quite that correlated yet. Nearly 50% of psychology graduates are underemployed, meaning they may not be practicing clinical psychology full time or they may not be engaged in the research aspects of psychology like they wish to be.

     

  • MR1882 // Wikimedia Commons
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    #53. Miscellaneous biological sciences

    Unemployment rate: 4.9%

    Underemployment rate: 49.2% (Rank: #45 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $33,000

    Mid-career median wage: $65,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 59.9%

    Miscellaneous biological sciences refers to a list of focuses within biology like microbiology and evolutionary biology. The jobs graduates in this field of study take depend on their specific focus, but they generally are either teaching jobs or lab-based positions. The unemployment rate is not bad, all things considered, but the underemployment rate is high, which seems to be an ongoing trend among the sciences.

     

  • Jason Krüger // Wikimedia Commons
    23/ Jason Krüger // Wikimedia Commons

    #52. Sociology

    Unemployment rate: 4.8%

    Underemployment rate: 52.1% (Rank: #56 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $55,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 36.2%

    Sociology is “the study of the systems and structures that govern how we interact with each other and with society as a whole." Graduates may become counselors, working with individuals, couples and families, and those who deal with substance abuse or behavioral disorders. They also may become social workers, social services assistants, or probation officers. So while the pay and unemployment rates are mid-range, this is a great field for those who care deeply about making the world a better place.

     

  • Alisdare Hickson // Wikimedia Commons
    24/ Alisdare Hickson // Wikimedia Commons

    #51. Ethnic studies

    Unemployment rate: 4.8%

    Underemployment rate: 50.5% (Rank: #52 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $37,000

    Mid-career median wage: $57,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 50.6%

    Ethnic studies spans the fields of humanities and social sciences. These programs focus on social, racial, and economic justice, as well as acknowledging the contributions and struggles of communities of color. Many students who pursue this path of study end up as community planners, nonprofit managers, or working in education, immigration, and public health policy. Over half the number of college graduates who complete a course in ethnic studies will go on to pursue a graduate degree, which opens more wide-reaching employment doors for them.

     

  • cgordon8527 // Pixabay
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    #50. International affairs

    Unemployment rate: 4.7%

    Underemployment rate: 49.9% (Rank: #50 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $42,000

    Mid-career median wage: $76,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 42.5%

    Studying international affairs prepares students to work in diplomacy, defense, and development. Graduates can work for local or federal governments, or can choose a path that aligns them with nonprofits and NGOs. With topics like environmental sustainability, human rights, and global development taking up an increasingly large portion of the news cycle, it's no shock that unemployment in this major is so low.

     

  • bridgesward // Pixabay
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    #49. Construction services

    Unemployment rate: 4.7%

    Underemployment rate: 31.5% (Rank: #22 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $54,000

    Mid-career median wage: $80,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 9.8%

    Few universities offer construction degrees, but many trade schools and nontraditional colleges offer a wide variety of them. The most common post-grad jobs for construction services majors are general contractors, construction managers, and engineering aids. As with graphic design, there are many ways to enter the construction field without a degree, so many of the entry-level jobs end up going to employees who have hands-on experience.

     

  • Maryland GovPics // Flickr
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    #48. Criminal justice

    Unemployment rate: 4.6%

    Underemployment rate: 75.5% (Rank: #73 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $36,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 22.8%

    Students who'd like to have a career in law enforcement would be well served by a criminal justice major. Once they've completed their course of study, a wide variety of professional options opens up to them, including detectives, crime scene investigators, court system positions (i.e. bailiff or jury consultant), and corrections officers. 

     

  • Bruce McAllister // Wikimedia Commons
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    #47. Environmental studies

    Unemployment rate: 4.6%

    Underemployment rate: 50% (Rank: #51 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $62,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 31.5%

    Graduates who hold a degree in environmental studies are equipped to help form and implement plans that allow access to resources while still protecting and conserving the earth. Common jobs include environmental manager, sustainability consultant, waste management officer, and water quality scientist. A general lack of urgency surrounding the welfare of the planet may contribute to the high range of unemployed and underemployed degree-holders.

     

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    #46. Journalism

    Unemployment rate: 4.6%

    Underemployment rate: 41.6% (Rank: #34 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $37,000

    Mid-career median wage: $70,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 23.9%

    Overall, there is less money being poured into journalism now than there was 50 years ago. That lack of funding, as well as the decline of nonpartisan journalism, has had a major impact on the overall employment prospects for recent journalism graduates. While there's still a need for high quality and ethical reporting, it's become increasingly difficult to find full-time work in the industry, evident by the high underemployment rates.

     

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    #45. Economics

    Unemployment rate: 4.5%

    Underemployment rate: 37.4% (Rank: #29 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $53,000

    Mid-career median wage: $85,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 41.4%

    Economics majors usually wind up working as economists, financial planners, investment analysts, actuaries, and financial consultants. As long as money exists, there will be a certain level of stability and demand in this field.

     

  • UC Davis College of Engineering // Flickr
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    #44. Computer science

    Unemployment rate: 4.4%

    Underemployment rate: 26% (Rank: #18 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $60,000

    Mid-career median wage: $90,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 31.6%

    Computer scientists have a whole range of job opportunities waiting for them after graduation. With skills like programming in their tool belts, they can pursue everything from game and app development to database administrator positions to IT consultants and cyber security roles. As lives become more reliant on computers, it makes sense that students with these sought-after skills would have their pick of professional opportunities.

     

  • Simon Fraser University - University Communications // Flickr
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    #43. Geography

    Unemployment rate: 4.3%

    Underemployment rate: 48.8% (Rank: #43 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $65,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 33.2%

    While perusing LinkedIn it's unlikely that you've ever stumbled upon a geographer job. While many associate geography work with early explorers, there is actually a whole host of career opportunities open to modern-day geographers. Today's graduates can become managers on projects developed by the U.S. Geological Survey or the U.S. Forest Service. They can work as environmental consultants, cartographers, hydrologists, and climatologists.

     

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    #42. Performing arts

    Unemployment rate: 4.2%

    Underemployment rate: 65.5% (Rank: #71 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $30,000

    Mid-career median wage: $55,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 38.3%

    When it comes to a return on investment, performing arts degrees are usually seen as the poorest performers. Having a successful career as a singer, actor, or dancer is hard, and few are able to turn their passion into a full-time job. This is the driving factor behind the high underemployment rate—most graduates who majored in performing arts must supplement their income by finding work in other industries.

     

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    #41. Leisure and hospitality

    Unemployment rate: 4.2%

    Underemployment rate: 63.6% (Rank: #70 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $32,000

    Mid-career median wage: $55,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 29.1%

    Leisure and hospitality degrees aren't as common as they once were, largely because most hotels, restaurants, catering services, and arenas don't require degrees from their entry-level employees. Many high-level customer service jobs (think hotel managers, catering directors) do require a degree, and plenty of leisure and hospitality graduates will find rewarding work there.

     

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    #40. Business management

    Unemployment rate: 4.2%

    Underemployment rate: 59.6% (Rank: #67 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $65,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 23%

    Managing dozens of people, as well as the administration of a business, is not something one is born knowing how to do. Learning how to coordinate marketing strategies, run a budget analysis, and ensure that your employees are happy and motivated takes time. But no business can grow or thrive without a solid business manager. Competition for these positions is fierce, especially as the number of them is limited, so those looking to start in the field must be willing to work hard to stand out.

     

  • New Zealand Defence Force // Flickr
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    #39. Electrical engineering

    Unemployment rate: 4%

    Underemployment rate: 21.6% (Rank: #11 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $64,000

    Mid-career median wage: $100,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 44%

    Electrical engineers work on everything from microscopic heart monitors to the largest supercomputers. They're tasked with designing, testing, and troubleshooting every electrical device around. As more of these products are developed, the demand and pay scale for electrical engineers will continue to increase.

  • Maryland GovPics // Flickr
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    #38. Public policy and law

    Unemployment rate: 3.9%

    Underemployment rate: 66.2% (Rank: #72 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $38,000

    Mid-career median wage: $59,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 45.4%

    Public policy and undergraduate law degrees combine the study of economics, political science, and sociology to help students understand how to make the best policy choices for the country. The majority of public policy graduates go on to grad school and plenty become attorneys, while others go on to work for the government and nonprofits. The underemployment rate is low, the second-lowest on the list, so those choosing this course of study should go into it with a desired career path to best maximize the chances of gainful employment.

     

  • International Maritime Organization // Flickr
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    #37. Communications

    Unemployment rate: 3.9%

    Underemployment rate: 54.8% (Rank: #59 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $38,000

    Mid-career median wage: $67,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 23.4%

    Communications is one example of a general major, and it remains one in fairly high demand in today's job market. Graduates with this degree go on to work in human resources, marketing, or business, or as paralegals, advertising executives, and teachers.

     

  • Soil Science // Flickr
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    #36. Miscellaneous physical sciences

    Unemployment rate: 3.9%

    Underemployment rate: 35.1% (Rank: #28 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $50,000

    Mid-career median wage: $70,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 55.4%

    Physical sciences are those concerned with the study of inanimate natural objects, such as physics, chemistry, earth science, and astronomy. Far fewer students choose to study astronomy over physics, resulting in a fairly low unemployment rate. Most gainful employment opportunities tend to be at universities, with government agencies like NASA, and occasionally with private corporations.

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    #35. Animal and plant sciences

    Unemployment rate: 3.8%

    Underemployment rate: 55.7% (Rank: #62 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 33.2%

    With 0.1% lower unemployment than physical sciences, animal and plant sciences are a great option for those looking for a nontraditional arena in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Many animal scientists go on to become veterinarians after graduation, while plant scientists work as botanists, ecologists, and plant geneticists.

     

  • NTNU, Faculty of Natural Sciences // Flickr
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    #34. Chemical engineering

    Unemployment rate: 3.8%

    Underemployment rate: 19.1% (Rank: #8 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $70,000

    Mid-career median wage: $103,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 49.8%

    Chemical engineers who desire a traditional career path work in oil, gas, or specialty chemicals. Others go on to work in pharmacology or as entrepreneurs. Finally, many chemical engineers have a growing position in sustainability—finding cleaner ways to make things like plastic and paint—resulting in a low unemployment rate.

     

  • None // Pxhere
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    #33. Finance

    Unemployment rate: 3.7%

    Underemployment rate: 38.4% (Rank: #32 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $52,000

    Mid-career median wage: $85,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 30.9%

    Working in finance is not for the faint of heart. Financial planners, financial analysts, and stock brokers all work long hours and carry demanding workloads. But a near-guarantee that they'll be able to find work in their field after graduation, and then continue to move up in the industry, is a fair trade-off for most graduates who want to make sure that the time and money they invest in college will be worth it in the end.

     

  • FotoshopTofs // Pixabay
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    #32. Biochemistry

    Unemployment rate: 3.7%

    Underemployment rate: 34.4% (Rank: #27 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $75,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 71%

    Biochemistry is a branch of science that seeks to understand the chemical processes that happen within, and are related to, living organisms. Those who choose this major in college are qualified to work as biomedical scientists, medicinal chemist, researchers, and pharmacologists, among other jobs.  

     

  • BT's BDUK partnerships fibre rollout photography // Flickr
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    #31. Miscellaneous engineering

    Unemployment rate: 3.7%

    Underemployment rate: 24.3% (Rank: #13 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $60,000

    Mid-career median wage: $90,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 44.2%

    Originally, there were four main areas of engineering: mechanical, civil, chemical, and electrical. However, as the problems and needs of the world have increased, so have the number of engineering fields. There are hundreds of arenas which you can major in today, from automotive to mechatronics to marine to nuclear engineering. These distinct specialties are growing and hiring, making any aspect of engineering worth pursuing.

     

  • Myfuture.com // Flickr
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    #30. Health services

    Unemployment rate: 3.6%

    Underemployment rate: 46.8% (Rank: #39 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $55,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 51.6%

    Studying health services is a great way to get a general understanding of health and applied sciences. Those who successfully find a job specialize in some aspect of health care, be it emergency services, counseling, or health management. As more of the U.S. population ages, there has been an increased demand for these types of services, which explains the low unemployment rate.

     

  • National Center for Advancing Translational Science // Flickr
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    #29. Chemistry

    Unemployment rate: 3.6%

    Underemployment rate: 34.3% (Rank: #26 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $70,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 65.7%

    For those who dream of working in a lab surrounded by dozens of test tubes, chemistry is the perfect major. But not all graduates spend their days this way. Many also become forensic scientists, toxicologists, and pharmacologists, or work in the health industry.

  • Maryland GovPics // Flickr
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    #28. General business

    Unemployment rate: 3.5%

    Underemployment rate: 56% (Rank: #63 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $43,800

    Mid-career median wage: $70,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 24%

    general business degree covers four aspects: finance, accounting, management, and marketing. This is one exception to the “more focused is better" rule, as it pays to be versatile and skilled in a wide variety of areas in the business world. This degree can also allow for a graduate to move up the ladder more quickly than those with a focused degree that lends itself to a specific and well-defined career path.  

     

  • BiblioArchives // Flickr
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    #27. Family and consumer sciences

    Unemployment rate: 3.5%

    Underemployment rate: 44.6% (Rank: #37 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $32,000

    Mid-career median wage: $48,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 32.4%

    Studying consumer sciences will make you an expert in how people interact with their environments. A deep understanding of this relationship will set you up to be a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, or retail professional. Few make major money in this industry, but many cite a deeper understanding of their place in the world as a fair trade-off.

     

  • NTNU, Faculty of Natural Sciences // Flickr
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    #26. Physics

    Unemployment rate: 3.5%

    Underemployment rate: 33.1% (Rank: #24 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $46,000

    Mid-career median wage: $90,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 70.6%

    Without physics the world might not look very different from the one cavemen inhabited. Physics is responsible for the development of TV, radio, the internet, nuclear weapons, and DNA studies. Because physics has such an enormous scope, it's hard to create a list of “most common careers for physics majors." Many go on to be research scientists, professors, energy engineers, technology, and even meteorologists. While many choose to further their education with a graduate degree (a whopping 70.6% go back to school), it's an investment that's well worth it; only 3.5% are unemployed and many earn into the $100,000 bracket.

     

  • US Coast Guard Academy // Flickr
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    #25. Mechanical engineering

    Unemployment rate: 3.5%

    Underemployment rate: 22.1% (Rank: #12 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $62,000

    Mid-career median wage: $98,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 40.3%

    Perhaps the most diverse of the engineering disciplines, mechanical engineers design and manufacture almost everything around us—from the cooling system in your computer to the engine in your car, to the air conditioning units in your home, to the sensor that allows you to unlock your phone. The number of jobs available to mechanical engineers is overwhelming, and most graduates are able to land jobs that suit their needs even before they earn their diplomas.

     

  • BTO // Flickr
    51/ BTO // Flickr

    #24. Advertising and public relations

    Unemployment rate: 3.4%

    Underemployment rate: 45.7% (Rank: #38 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $70,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 18%

    The job opportunities for advertising, public relations, and marketing managers are almost identical, with one major caveat: advertising and PR majors face slightly higher unemployment. Expect to see the most growth in social media- and strategy-related jobs for these majors over the next few years, but the overall growth won't outpace any other industry (6% growth by 2024).

     

  • WorldSkills UK // Flickr
    52/ WorldSkills UK // Flickr

    #23. Social services

    Unemployment rate: 3.4%

    Underemployment rate: 30.4% (Rank: #21 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $30,000

    Mid-career median wage: $42,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 46.1%

    The #1 one job for college graduates who hold a social services degrees is social worker. Social workers work with people from all walks of life, in schools, mental health clinics, hospitals, child welfare agencies, and community development corporations to help them solve problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 16% growth in this field over the next eight years, which varies by specialization. Overall, future graduates may see unemployment near zero as they enter the workforce.

     

  • WorldSkills UK // Flickr
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    #22. Aerospace engineering

    Unemployment rate: 3.4%

    Underemployment rate: 24.4% (Rank: #14 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $65,000

    Mid-career median wage: $100,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 51.6%

    If you've ever had dreams of becoming an astronaut, then a degree in aerospace engineering would be the first step in joining NASA. But most aerospace engineers don't go to the moon. Many of them design commercial and military aircrafts, build those aircrafts, or inspect them before they're allowed to fly. Few engineers choose this focus, or are able to see it through to completion, but those who do are generally guaranteed gainful employment after graduation.

     

  • NEC Corporation of America // Flickr
    54/ NEC Corporation of America // Flickr

    #21. Miscellaneous technologies

    Unemployment rate: 3.3%

    Underemployment rate: 62.2% (Rank: #69 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $74,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 17%

    It is hard to find any major university that offers a degree in miscellaneous technologies, but essentially what this type of program offers is an overview of technology in general. Think computer programming, IT, and basic engineering. Technology has become such a major component of life that those who hold a degree anywhere in that arena are bound to find work. It's important to note, however, that unemployment with a miscellaneous degree is higher than in a more focused field.

     

  • Dustin Gaffke // Flickr
    55/ Dustin Gaffke // Flickr

    #20. Art history

    Unemployment rate: 3.2%

    Underemployment rate: 55.4% (Rank: #61 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $62,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 42.1%

    It may be surprising to find art history ranked so high on the list of majors with the lowest unemployment, especially when similar degrees, like fine arts, rank so low. Many art history majors find work as gallery managers, museum curators, conservators, and heritage managers. Some also go on to be archivists, educators, and estate managers. The low unemployment in this arena might be primarily due to the fact that fewer college students are pursuing this degree nowadays.

     

  • NEC Corporation of America // Flickr
    56/ NEC Corporation of America // Flickr

    #19. Business analytics

    Unemployment rate: 3.2%

    Underemployment rate: 38.4% (Rank: #31 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $55,000

    Mid-career median wage: $85,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 24%

    Six years ago, the Harvard Business Review called business analytics the “sexiest job of the 21st century." Data is collected for just about everything, and most companies leverage that data to improve things like marketing strategies, customer retention, and web traffic. Most business analytics graduates will go on to pursue careers like data scientists and management analysts. This is one field that doesn't show any signs of shrinking over the next decade or so, making it a worthwhile investment for those with limited dollars to spend on higher education.

     

  • perzon seo // Flickr
    57/ perzon seo // Flickr

    #18. Marketing

    Unemployment rate: 3%

    Underemployment rate: 53.3% (Rank: #57 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $42,000

    Mid-career median wage: $75,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 17.2%

    Marketing as an industry has boomed over the past 100 years. What started in print ads and billboards, is now something that surrounds people constantly. People are marketed on the internet, through our favorite TV shows, and via blogs, Instagram posts, and targeted Facebook ads. It's a nonstop job that requires constant evolution to stay ahead of the competition. Bringing in new employees and new ideas is critical to a brand's success, which is why the demand for experienced and educated marketers is currently so high.

     

  • United States Mission Geneva // Flickr
    58/ United States Mission Geneva // Flickr

    #17. Architecture

    Unemployment rate: 2.8%

    Underemployment rate: 29% (Rank: #20 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $42,000

    Mid-career median wage: $73,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 38.2%

    Architecture relies heavily on math, which makes it a better choice for those who are more technically minded. Those who choose to study architecture will have a variety of challenging and interesting options, such as landscape architecture, restoration architecture, and extreme architecture (specializing in building in extreme environments). It has a low underemployment rate, which makes it perfect for those who love a challenge.

     

  • stevepb // Pixabay
    59/ stevepb // Pixabay

    #16. Accounting

    Unemployment rate: 2.8%

    Underemployment rate: 25.2% (Rank: #17 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $48,000

    Mid-career median wage: $72,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 28.2%

    While accounting may not seem like the most glamorous course of study, it's definitely a stable one. Certified accountants can work for major corporations or choose to do taxes for private individuals. With 50% of millennials including side income on their tax returns this year, the process of filing has gotten more complicated, and a larger portion of individuals are turning to professionals to help them sort through the paperwork.

  • Daniel X. O'Neil // Flickr
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    #15. Computer engineering

    Unemployment rate: 2.8%

    Underemployment rate: 20.3% (Rank: #9 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $67,000

    Mid-career median wage: $105,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 37.9%

    Seventy-five years ago, computer engineering wasn't even an option for study at universities. Computer engineering is a blend of electrical engineering and computer science, and graduates do everything from cybersecurity to machine intelligence to working on embedded systems. With technology becoming more of a key fixture, this unemployment rate likely will continue to diminish.

     

  • Church of St. John the Evangelist Redroof Church // Flickr
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    #14. Theology and religion

    Unemployment rate: 2.7%

    Underemployment rate: 48.5% (Rank: #42 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $28,000

    Mid-career median wage: $49,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 44%

    With a surprisingly low unemployment rate, theology and religion can make a wise major choice for those interested in the subjects. Most graduates will pursue a career in the church of their chosen religion, and see completing the major as the first step in a life of service. Occasionally, theology majors will go on to be teachers or journalists at religious outlets.

     

  • Army Medicine // Flickr
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    #13. Treatment therapy

    Unemployment rate: 2.7%

    Underemployment rate: 34.2% (Rank: #25 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $34,500

    Mid-career median wage: $68,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 44.1%

    One career a treatment therapy major may consider is a physical therapist. While becoming a full-blown PT requires further education (a graduate degree and successful completion of a license exam), this college major is a great first step down that path.

     

  • Chris Betcher // Flickr
    63/ Chris Betcher // Flickr

    #12. Secondary education

    Unemployment rate: 2.7%

    Underemployment rate: 24.7% (Rank: #15 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $49,900

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 47.5%

    Secondary education generally refers to seventh through 12th grade. Students who pursue this path are set up to pass their licensure test, and generally focus on one or two specific subjects. The median wage for secondary teachers is much higher than it is for either elementary or special education teachers.

     

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture // Flickr
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    #11. Agriculture

    Unemployment rate: 2.5%

    Underemployment rate: 54.7% (Rank: #58 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $40,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 21%

    Students who study agriculture have two distinct career paths: They either become farmers or they enter the business side of agriculture, usually working for a government body. A large part of the low unemployment rate for this major can be credited to the fact that those who choose the farming route generally employ themselves and create their own career opportunities. Meanwhile, those looking for jobs in sustainable agriculture or food science face much steeper competition.

     

  • US Department of Education // Flickr
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    #10. Miscellaneous education

    Unemployment rate: 2.5%

    Underemployment rate: 14.9% (Rank: #2 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $36,000

    Mid-career median wage: $48,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 54.1%

    One consistent trend is that majors with more defined and specific focuses tend to have lower unemployment rates. Take miscellaneous education, for example. While those who pursue this degree are set up to take their teaching certificate test, they end up having a higher unemployment rate than those who specialize in elementary education or early childhood education. Narrowing your focus as much as possible seems to be the key to landing a good job.

     

  • International Maritime Organization // Flickr
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    #9. General engineering

    Unemployment rate: 2.4%

    Underemployment rate: 24.7% (Rank: #16 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $60,000

    Mid-career median wage: $89,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 36.7%

    General engineering is the umbrella major for all other types of engineering. It covers concepts included in civil, technical, and industrial engineering, but lacks the specific focus or expertise of the other types. Typical jobs for general engineering majors include development, manufacturing, process, and systems engineers. There is still a high demand for these jobs (reflected in the low unemployment rate), but not as much as for more focused engineering degrees (reflected in the underemployment rate).

     

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Flickr
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    #8. Civil engineering

    Unemployment rate: 2.3%

    Underemployment rate: 18.9% (Rank: #7 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $56,000

    Mid-career median wage: $90,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 37.1%

    Civil engineers design, construct, and maintain things like roads, dams, bridges, and buildings. They also develop the infrastructure of towns and cities. Graduates find work among a variety of sectors including city planning, construction, and infrastructure development. As the population continues to grow, the need for civil engineers will increase, leading to an all-around low unemployment rate.

     

  • US Department of Education // Flickr
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    #7. Early childhood education

    Unemployment rate: 2.3%

    Underemployment rate: 16.1% (Rank: #3 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $31,000

    Mid-career median wage: $40,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 37.2%

    Early childhood education programs focus on equipping educators to teach everything from pre-kindergarten to third grade. Outside of working in the classroom, early childhood educators can work in daycares, as consultants, or as educational administrators. With more families relying on both parents to work full time to pay the bills, more children are in day care and pre-kindergarten now than there were 50 years ago. This increase in demand for care outside the home has also increased the demand for certified early childhood educators, and will probably continue to do so over the next decade.

     

  • Army Medicine // Flickr
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    #6. Nursing

    Unemployment rate: 2.3%

    Underemployment rate: 11.1% (Rank: #1 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $50,000

    Mid-career median wage: $68,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 26.1%

    With the lowest rate of underemployed graduates, nursing is a flexible career choice. Nurses can work in hospitals or private practices, retirement homes or schools, and can focus in any number of specialties. People will always need medical attention, and most would prefer to receive it from a person, not a robot, making nursing a worthy degree option.

     

  • AMISOM Public Information // Flickr
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    #5. General education

    Unemployment rate: 2.2%

    Underemployment rate: 21.4% (Rank: #10 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $36,000

    Mid-career median wage: $45,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 46.7%

    general education degree is one that has been designed to provide as broad and all-encompassing a course of study as possible. Students who choose this major are set up for almost every sort of general entry-level job out there, and many decide to go on to a more focused graduate program, which opens up more career options.

     

  • US Department of Education // Flickr
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    #4. Elementary education

    Unemployment rate: 2%

    Underemployment rate: 16.3% (Rank: #4 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $42,900

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 46.2%

    With an epidemic of teacher shortages sweeping the country, elementary education graduates are almost guaranteed a job in the field. It may not be a high-paying one (49% of the nation agrees that teachers should be paid more), and it's unquestionably demanding, but teachers experience an almost unprecedented level of job security.  

     

  • worldsteel // Flickr
    72/ worldsteel // Flickr

    #3. Industrial engineering

    Unemployment rate: 1.7%

    Underemployment rate: 17.4% (Rank: #5 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $64,000

    Mid-career median wage: $88,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 40.9%

    Industrial engineering has low unemployment and underemployment rates, and a high median wage; this major provides a level of security and room for growth that few others do. Industrial engineers' main focus is to eliminate waste and streamline production, something that almost every business wants to do. As waste elimination decreases, bottom lines increase, as does the demand for more industrial engineers.

     

  • Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle // U.S. Air Force
    73/ Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle // U.S. Air Force

    #2. Special education

    Unemployment rate: 1.3%

    Underemployment rate: 17.7% (Rank: #6 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $35,000

    Mid-career median wage: $45,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 59.3%

    If there's a shortage of elementary school teachers, then there's an even bigger shortage of special education teachers. Special education teachers take a different course of study than general elementary education majors, and most states require that they have a different certification. While they may earn marginally more than other teachers, special education teachers face a higher level of underemployment than their co-workers.

     

  • Army Medicine //Flickr
    74/ Army Medicine //Flickr

    #1. Medical technicians

    Unemployment rate: 0.9%

    Underemployment rate: 54.8% (Rank: #60 lowest)

    Early career median wage: $43,000

    Mid-career median wage: $60,000

    Share who go on to earn a graduate degree: 22.5%

    Less than 1% of medical technicians are unemployed: Medical technicians are experts in a single area and trained to handle complicated medical equipment with ease (phlebotomists, surgical technicians, and cytotechnologists, for example). The catch here is that many are underemployed, alluding to a potentially overcrowded field.

     

     

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