The 5 Least Paying College Degrees in 2013

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‘What’s your major?’

It’s a question that will be asked a thousand times during your college career, and before long you’ll be able to answer it in your sleep. But while it may be a dull and repetitive question asked by everyone from your parents’ neighbors to that socially awkward guy at a party who can’t think of a better topic of conversation, this is the most important question you’ll ever be asked. A college degree can lead to a successful career and a life of wealth and happiness, but it’s the subject you choose that really matters.

Many students, of course, go to college to study a subject for which they have a passion. Some will go to college in the hopes of helping others. A person may attend an online mba program in hopes of creating jobs while another may go for education in hopes of developing new generations of leaders. Regardless of the altruistic nature of people, most study in the hope that their effort will be repaid in the future with higher salaries and greater opportunities. For those people, then, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of the least paying college degrees. The following are the 5 areas of study you should try to avoid if you hope your future will include a house, a car, and the financial freedom to enjoy life.

1. Child and Family Studies

Working with children can be extremely rewarding both spiritually and emotionally, but according to the latest PayScale report it rarely leads to financial security. Graduates in Child and Family Studies often move on to careers in social work and special education, professions which offer an annual average salary of around $37,700.

The figures may be skewed by the fact that 91% of graduates in this field are female, and since many women take a break from their career to raise a family, the average salary of the group as a whole will tend to be reduced. However, even taking into account a gender bias, the average earnings of Child and Family Studies graduates is incredibly low.

2. Social Work

Similarly, social work attracts students who care deeply about the welfare of others. Many graduates take jobs in fields that offer them the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, but in our society this isn’t a financially rewarding field. Social work graduates earn an average of just $45,300 per annum.

3. Elementary Education

This is actually one of the most popular subjects for students who want to change lives. Elementary education graduates shape the lives of our children, guiding them into education and giving them a solid foundation from which they can bloom. Unfortunately, we have decided that the skills required to plant the seed of knowledge in our youngest generation is worth only $46,800 to start.

4. Human Development

Graduates in human development often find themselves with the opportunity to move into relatively lucrative positions in human resources and office management, but many are drawn into low paying careers in counseling and education, leaving them with an average salary of only $47,800.

5. Special Education

A degree in Special Education requires a special kind of person; a person willing to work in an intensely challenging field that often feels like a losing battle. Working with children with learning disorders and emotional problems can be emotionally draining, but most in the field believe that they make a positive difference. However, with an average salary of just $48,900 the work doesn’t offer a great deal of financial compensation.

The common factor between all of these majors – and the careers to which they lead – is that they all focus on helping others. All of these careers are admirable, worthy and emotionally rewarding, and a student hoping to move into any of these careers should be applauded.

However, they should go into their studies with the knowledge that their reward will not be financial. They will likely not find wealth in any of these careers, and they should prepare themselves for that. Hopefully, though, there will always be a few brave and selfless souls who choose this life for themselves, for the sake of us all.

Author Bio: Sani Golriz is a community blogger and active staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.
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