In recent times, with the abundant college majors, the United States has reported a reduction in unemployment rates across the country. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, total nonfarm payroll enrollment rose by 1.8 million in July 2020 and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent. With the abundant options in college majors, the unemployment rate is continuously dropping, giving a pool of opportunities for a variety of people.
The increasing rate of educational attainment directly contributes to increasing employment rates. According to surveys conducted in 2018; since 2000, the number of people aged 25 or above whose highest degree was a Master’s has doubled to 21 million, while the doctoral holders have more than doubled to 4.5 million.
Since 1950, the number of people with less than a high school education has decreased by half.
Having said that, the point to note is that a Bachelor’s degree is not a guarantee for career success or a great job. The employment rate is increasing but not all college graduates are benefited from this. The major you choose to pursue plays an important role in defining your earning potential.
You can grow in every field you work in, but there still are areas that see large unemployment rates. For example, career paths like engineering or education have lower unemployment rates than majors within the liberal arts. In general, college majors with STEM provide a lot more diverse and opportunistic plethora than the liberal arts or humanities.
Unemployment cannot be fully understood just by looking at median wages. For example, the median wages of an education-related career are $40,000 in the beginning which reaches $68,000 with experience. But despite having low median wages, it has the lowest unemployment rate. On the other hand, the median wage of construction services is $85,000 but has the highest unemployment rate among all the college majors.
Thus while choosing a major for college, one should not assess just one aspect. Multiple factors should be considered before choosing a career such as job security and projected career growth also.
Let’s look at a detailed analysis of a variety of majors with a comparison based on employment rates. This will help the students choose a better career among the available options while considering the employment rates.
College Majors with Highest Unemployment Rates:
1. Mass Media
Mass media refers to a diverse array of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The course for mass media deals with the theory and applications behind various visual, audio, and print media. The possible career options with mass media majors are journalism, marketing, product branding, etc. Due to the high volatility of jobs in journalism and recent lay-offs, it is offering too little job stability and hence more unemployment - but something to keep in mind this is not always the case. For example, according to Glassdoor, a Marketing Manager makes between 90k-300k a year.
2. Liberal Arts
Liberal arts is known for intellect. People earning a degree in liberal arts are taught to formulate effective arguments, communicate well, and solve problems. Liberal arts includes the study of humanities, history, literature, writing, philosophy, sociology, psychology, creative arts, etc. Due to the broad spectrum of liberal arts, it can be difficult to find a job in this career path and hence it is advised to take up one of these subjects as a minor.
The study of Anthropology focuses on the scientific study of humans, human behavior, and societies in the past and present. Due to such specific studies, the career options available are work in universities, museums, and research institutions. Human forensics and paleontology are a few of the essential components of anthropology.
Philosophy major focuses on the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, life, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The only direct career option available in this field is becoming a philosophy professor. There are no other direct career options available. But with that being said, the skills gained in this field is transferable to careers like teaching, research, or writing.
5. Construction Services
Construction majors study and learn skills related to cost estimating, facilities management, building codes, budgeting, and construction safety. The median career wage is relatively high but despite having an unemployment rate of 6.1%, this career option is considered a good option. The share with a graduate degree is also much less which implies that not many people with construction majors pursue a graduate degree.
College Majors with Lowest Unemployment Rates
1. Theology and Religion
It is the study of the religions of the world and their impact on society. The career options that are offered by the major in theology and religion are religion teachers, social work, ministry, non-profits, etc. According to a survey in 2016, only 9,804 degrees were conferred in theology and religion accounting for a very small percentage in college majors.
2. Medical Technicians
With a projected growth of 13 percent by 2026, medical technicians are highly in demand. It is an integral part of the medical profession and prepares the students to collect specimens for medical analysis and laboratory experiments. It includes subjects like chemistry, immunology, hematology, etc. Despite having only 1 percent of unemployment in this field, underemployment has a very high value of over 50 percent.
3. Early Childhood Education
This major is dedicated to educating young students, where people are taught to specialize in teaching young children under the age of eight. Working professionals in this field may have elementary schools, daycare centers, and pre-schools as career options. The median career wage is very less in the list despite having a very low unemployment rate.
4. General Education
College majors with general education involve teaching students regardless of the age limit. The curriculum includes subjects related to learning, teaching, and education administration. The most likely career in this field would be as an educator in public schools or private institutions.
5. Public Policy and Law
Public policy and law is the study of systems of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding priorities. It focuses on subjects of politics, economics, and sociology to solve different policy issues. The career choices in this path have vast options, ranging from government relations and legal services to nonprofit management and community services. Despite having a very low unemployment rate of 1.7 percent, the underemployment in this sector is over 62 percent, thus making it a less likely choice among the list.
While still considering your interests and passions, it’s also important to consider the scope of career growth and future ramifications of our decisions.
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