Post-college success may be a matter of degrees, according to a new report. So your child wants to be a rock and roll star? Then listen now to what I say: put down the electric guitar and take the time to become an engineer, whose lifetime earnings could top $1 million.
That’s according to What’s it Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors, a recent report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce that finds the difference in earnings potential between one major and another can be more than 300 percent.
Financing a college education is increasingly a concern especially in non-Millionaire households. Public university fees and tuition are rising faster than family incomes. They have soared almost 130 percent over the last 20 years, according to the College Board.
But college is still considered a sound and certain investment. On average, college graduates make 84 percent more over a lifetime than those with a high school education, the report states.
But the choice of undergraduate major is critical to potential earnings. Based on United States Census data available for the first time, the report analyzed 171 majors in 15 categories. Individuals who indicated they had a bachelor’s degree or higher also supplied their undergraduate major.
The top 10 majors with the highest median earnings are: Petroleum Engineer ($120,000); Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Science and Administration ($105,000); Mathematics and Computer Sciences ($98,000); Aerospace Engineering ($87,000); Chemical Engineering ($86,000); Electrical Engineering ($85,000); Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering ($82,000); Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering and Mining and Mineral Engineering ($80,000 each)
Among the majors with the lowest median earnings are; Counseling/Psychology ($29,000); Early Childhood Education ($36,000), and Social Work ($39,000).
In today’s stagnant economy, there are some fields with virtually no unemployment, the report found. They include Geological and Geophysical Engineering; Military Technologies; Pharmacology, and School Student Counseling. Majors with the highest unemployment are in the fields of Social Psychology (16 percent); Nuclear Engineering (11 percent); and Educational Administration and Supervision (11 percent).
The most popular major is Business with 25 percent of all students. The least popular are Industrial Arts and Consumer Services and Agriculture and Natural Resources with 1.6 percent each.
Engineering is the major group that offers the highest median earnings, while the lowest are found in Education and Psychology and Social Work. Women are most likely to pursue careers in Health (85 percent), Education (77 percent), and Psychology and Social Work (74 percent) while men are most likely to major in Engineering (84 percent) and Agriculture and Natural Resources (70 percent).
Biology and Life Science majors are most likely to obtain an advanced graduate degree, the report found, while those in Communications and Journalism and Industrial Arts and Consumer Services and Business were the least likely.
The report also reveals glaring gender and racial earnings gaps. Women who become Chemical Engineers, for example, make $20,000 less annually than men. African-Americans who graduate with a major in Finance earn an average of $47,000 per year, while Hispanics and Asians each make $56,000 and whites earn $70,000.