It’s often said that a college student should choose a major that leads to a career they know they will love. Yet, according to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, that may not be a great idea — especially for those who want to study architecture or the arts.
The study, titled "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal," found that architecture and arts graduates have the highest rates of unemployment. Recent architecture graduates have an unemployment rate of 13.9%, which is more than 5% higher than the national average of 8.5%, the study found. Even those with a master’s degree struggle, as they have a 7.7% unemployment rate. According to the study, architecture graduates have suffered under the economy because of the collapse of the construction and home-building industries.
Meanwhile, 12.9% of recent film video and photographic arts graduates and 12.6% of fine arts degree recipients are unemployed. Liberal arts and social science graduates also see a high rate of unemployment, at 9.4% and 8.9% respectively. So which bachelor’s degrees have the highest rate of employment?
Those who majored in elementary nursing, elementary education, accounting, chemistry and finance have the lowest unemployment rates because these degrees work lead into relatively stable industries, according to the study. Nursing has the lowest unemployment rate at 4%, followed by elementary education at 4.8%.
The study also looks at the average salary for recent graduates, those with some work experience, and graduate degree holders. It may not be a surprise to see that people who graduated with an arts degree of any level earn less than their peers. Drama and theater arts majors sit at the bottom of the list for salary at $26,000. Commercial art and graphic design majors have the highest earning potential of all arts majors, as they make $32,000 after graduation and $60,000 with a master’s degree. Conversely, degrees related to the field of technology, such as engineering and computer science, yielded the highest earnings. An entry-level mechanical engineer earns an average of $58,000, which increases to $86,000 with experience, and reaches $100,000 with a master’s degree.
Ultimately, the study shows us that a graduate degree is generally worth the investment. With some exceptions, graduate degree holders earn between $60,000 and $100,000 per year while having an unemployment rate of just 3%.
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