These 5 college majors aren’t paying off in the job market

Graduates Celebrate On The Southbank
Getty Images | Dan Kitwood

The latest unemployment rate remains steady at a relatively low 4.1 percent. That’s one sign of a healthy economy. However, it doesn’t tell the full story of the workforce. Many people (around 33 percent of college graduates) are technically employed, but have settled for part-time, lower-paying jobs, while others are overqualified for their current positions, or work in a different field than their college degree. They are underemployed, and it’s a significant problem.

In fact, the underemployment rate for recent college grads has been rising since 2001. This means that even with a meaningful college degree, it’s harder to find a stable job. Similarly, underemployment for recent college grads can negatively impact earning potential down the road and takes a significant psychological toll as well.

Getty Images | Justin Sullivan
Recently, PayScale conducted a survey to delve deeper into this underemployment issue, collecting data from 962,956 workers between March 21, 2014 and March 21, 2016. One key question they asked respondents was, “Do you consider yourself underemployed?” They then followed up to learn additional details. For example, respondents could share “I am not working in a job that uses my education or training” or “I am working part-time but want full-time work” to explain their underemployment.

According to its survey, certain college degrees tend to have higher underemployment. Since many students are considering college acceptances and perusing course catalogues this spring, it’s a good time to ponder the future prospects of different degrees. Before you write those tuition checks, take a look at the results from PayScale’s survey.

Below are the top five college majors that most commonly reported underemployment. These are the college majors you may want to avoid if you want better job prospects after graduation.

  1. Physical Education Teaching Bachelor’s (56.4 percent underemployed)
  2. Human Services Bachelor’s (55.6 percent underemployed)
  3. Illustration Bachelor’s (54.7 percent underemployed)
  4. Criminal Justice Masters (53 percent underemployed)
  5. Criminal Justice Bachelor’s (52.8 percent underemployed)

Do you think this survey will change your mind, or influence your children, in their college decisions?

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Jennifer Nied


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