Monday, October 6, 2014

Highest Paying Majors?

Here is a summary of an interesting analysis of Census Bureau data done to find out which college majors earned the most and the least. The result? Median lifetime earnings of bachelor's degree graduates are higher across all majors than median earnings of high school graduates. But of course different degrees earn varying amounts, with engineering, finance, and science at the top end and art, music, and language at the bottom. But what is even more interesting is that "the range of earnings within each major is wide — about as wide as the spread ... in different majors. Put another way, a person at the 90th percentile for childhood education majors (where average earnings are on the low end) will quite handily outearn someone at the 10th percentile of computer engineering majors (where average earnings are at the high end). In fact, at the 90th percentile, people with only a high school degree outearn any college majors at the 10th percentile."

So, the article concludes, the "real message in these data is your college major is not your destiny. It takes some amount of grit to make it anywhere. Smart choices about which skills to acquire will get you some, but not all, of the way there." The article has some nifty charts and graphs. Political science apparently does better than history, and when graduate degrees are taken into account, the median earnings of people with political science degrees is higher than the median earnings of those with architecture or nursing degrees, which puts them just below the top earners comprised of engineers, scientists, construction services, and economists.

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