Noted Financial Expert And Author Warns Of ‘Worst Paying College Degrees’

August 6, 2010

Facing an almost constant bombardment of college and career school ads promising to “help you land a good-paying job,” some of West U’s college-bound students may not stop to consider what kind of salary they may ultimately earn with those degrees.

One prominent financial expert is encouraging parents of those students to help them carefully weigh the benefits of some degrees.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of “The College Solution” and contributor to the CBS Moneywatch program, said that some highly-touted degrees may ultimately lead to graduates earning less than those who never went to college.

To illustrate her point, O’Shaughnessy has released a list of worst-paying college majors. At the bottom of the list was “child and family studies,” where the average graduate can expect a beginning salary of only $29,500.

“What’s equally discouraging is that the salary of someone in this field will barely budge after 15 years in the profession,” O’Shaughnessy noted. “Food is another common theme for students who major in the worst-paying college degrees. Students who earn degrees in horticulture, dietetics and the culinary arts are more likely to end up struggling financially.”

O’Shaughnessy’s list of worst paying college degrees for 2010 included:
College Degree                        Starting pay         Mid-career pay

Child and family studies                   $29,500                $38,400

Elementary education                       $31,600                $44,400

Social work                                       $31,800                $44,900

Athletic training                                $32,800                $45,700

Culinary arts                                     $35,900                $50,600

Horticulture                             $35,000                $50,800

Paralegal studies/law             $35,100                $51,300

Theology                                           $34,700                $51,300

Recreation & leisure               $33,300                $53,200

Special education                   $36,000                $53,800

Dietetics                                            $40,400                $54,200

Religious studies                    $34,700                $54,400

Art                                           $33,500                $54,800

Education                               $35,100                $54,900

Interdisciplinary studies          $35,600                $55,700

Interior design                        $34,400                $56,600

Nutrition                                 $42,200                $56,700

Graphic design                                  $35,400                $56,800

Music                                      $36,700                $57,000

Art history                                         $39,400                $57,100

On the flip side, O’Shaughnessy also compiled a list of the 20 best paying college degrees in 2010.

Those degree programs include:

College Degree                        Starting Median Pay   Mid-career pay

Petroleum engineering            $93,000                         $157,000

Aerospace engineering            $59,400                         $108,000

Chemical engineering             $64,800                         $108,000

Electrical engineering             $60,800                         $104,000

Nuclear engineering                $63,900                         $104,000

Applied mathematics               $56,400                         $101,000

Biomedical engineering           $54,800                         $101,000

Physics                                    $50,700                         $99,600

Computer engineering            $61,200                         $87,700

Economics                               $48,800                         $97,800

Computer science                    $56,200                         $97,700

Civil engineering                     $53,500                         $93,400

Statistics                                  $50,000                         $93,400

Finance                                   $47,500                         $91,500

Software engineering              $56,700                         $91,300

Management info. systems    $50,900                 $90,300

Mathematics                            $46,400                         $88,300

Government                          $41,500                            $88,300

Information systems                $49,300                         $87,100

Construction Management    $50,400                           $87,000

According to O’Shaughnessy, the key to choosing the best – and most lucrative – degree program is for parents to take the time to explore programs that will both fit their students’ needs and interests while still providing adequate earning potential throughout a career.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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