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Best and Worst Majors for a Future Career

Find out what majors will help you later in life

If you’re looking to earn your bachelor’s degree, then you might be thinking about what to pursue. It turns out that some majors might be better equipped to get you a job in the future and help you earn more — while some majors won’t always put you on the path you were hoping for.

So before committing to a major, it’s important to do your homework and make sure it’s one that will give you the most benefit. Here are the best college majors when planning for the future and alternatives for the not-so-great ones:


Nursing -
Salaries for registered nurses begin at a median of $55,400, with a 10-year job growth of 19.4 percent, not to mention nursing professions will expand at nearly twice the national average rate by 2022. Why?

“More elderly people will lead to a greater demand for health care,” says Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies. And if you go on to get a master’s degree, you can qualify to become a nurse practitioner, which earns a median salary of $89,960.

Computer science - Getting hired right after graduation as an information security analyst or software developer won’t likely be an issue for you, with a whopping 2,078,624 annual online job postings. Grads who major in computer science typically begin at a salary of nearly $60,000 and work for some of the world’s fastest-growing industries. There’s also lots of room for growth, with a 36.5 percent projected 10 year job growth.

Actuarial mathematics - Actuaries typically start with a salary of around $58,700 and by mid-career are up to $120,000. In addition, actuaries are able to work manageable hours, with only three out of 10 working more than 40 hours a week. Most people who enjoy math will choose math as their major, but actuarial mathematics might be a better path to a job requiring skills in math, statistics, probability and finance.

Civil engineering - As one of the most in-demand job opportunities (with 259,495 online job postings a year), civil engineers start with a salary close to a respectable $55,000, and increase vastly from there. Civil engineering majors must enjoy math and science, as the career includes designing and supervising large construction projects, from airports to sewer systems and tunnels.

Finance - “There will always be demand for people who know finance,” says Sigelman. “But the emergence of big data has also made finance majors sought-after for a wide range of jobs involving analytics.” Sought after is right, with the annual online job postings being 1,181,973. The income is respectable, too, with the median salary being $67,520 and the top 10 percent of advisors earning more than $187,200.


Art history -
With a degree in art history, you’ll likely earn an annual salary between $35,000 and $40,000. If you have a passion for art, a better bet might be to major in art education, and later get a master’s degree, which would qualify you for a postsecondary art teacher career, which has an average salary of $62,160. And that would make you the highest-paying non-administrative job in the art industry.

Horticulture - There’s not a big demand for experts in this field, with under 400 annual online job postings. Plus, the average starting salary comes in at $35,900, with a projected 10-year job growth of 19.3 percent. If you’ve always dreamed of a career in plant layout and are an expert in greenery, a major in landscape architecture might work better to your advantage. Landscape architects earn a median salary of $64,180 with a job growth rate of 14.3 percent.

Social work - “Those who choose [social work] as a major should know that it tends to be an underfunded side of the economy,” says Sigelman. With the starting salary being around $33,000, it’s definitely a needed and rewarding profession. A public administration major, though, might offer more opportunities at a higher income.

Photography -A photographer begins with an average starting salary of $36,200, and only has a projected 10-year growth of 4.3 percent. If you have a passion for photography, take a few photography classes, but major in film production. There are many professional photographers who can be successful with a high school diploma, but holding a film production major means your mid-career salary will be around $71,000, and you still get that time behind the camera.

Biblical studies -A bachelor’s degree alone in this major will net you around $50,000 mid-career, only increasing about $15,000 from the average starting salary. It might be a good idea to get a masters to become a philosophy or religious studies teacher, which is a solid career, but if you're looking to begin a career right after graduating from undergrad, philosophy might be a more reasonable major.

Regardless of what you choose, let us help you with the financing.



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