8 College Majors to Avoid

8 College Majors to Avoid
Beth Dumbauld

We’re all about following your passion, but here are some college majors to avoid if a clear career progression and increased promotion and salary opportunities are important to you. The workplace is changing constantly with new technology to support job skills and functions, so some degree programs display shrinking opportunities due to increased technology, both on- and off-line.

We did some research on the latest college degree programs that may not have as a wide range of career opportunity and as high a salary potential as other majors. Kiplinger, Forbes and ThinkAdvisor generally agree that the college majors listed below, while they may be personally satisfying, aren’t necessarily good career choices when considering unemployment rates and income growth potential.

Here are eight college majors that have declining job opportunities in today’s market:

  • Art History – This is a major that, while interesting, will put you either well below the national median salary or require an advanced degree to obtain a position that will pay well enough to live on as a college professor or curator. Four percent of these degree-holders are unemployed with an additional 20% having fallen out of the workforce.
  • Fine Arts – Fine art hits the top of all three lists we surveyed for this article. Forbes places this major at number three, citing an unemployment rate of 12.6% and median income of $30,000/year while Kiplinger gives a median income of closer to $25,000/year. Either way, being an artist and making a solid living as an artist appear to be two different things.
  • Religious Studies – with fewer than ten thousand job postings per year nation-wide, this major hosts students who, presumably, are not necessarily looking for a big pay day. Kiplinger suggests a related philosophy major instead, for which there are exponentially more job postings. Forbes cites an unemployment rate of over 10% for individuals in this field, and this publication doesn’t see philosophy as a great replacement, with an unemployment rate of more than 6%.
  • Philosophy – Related to religious studies, above, philosophy lands at number five on the Think Advisor list, with a median income of $35,000/year for recent grads. Forbes shows modest improvement for mid-career graduates, with a median income of $48,000/year. While the critical thinking and writing skills can be useful in professions outside philosophy and religion, you may consider using this as a minor instead of a major.
  • Anthropology – while arguably one of the most interesting majors with decent pay, jobs in this arena are well below a thousand every year—around 700. Forbes cites the unemployment rate at 6.2% for seasoned grads but drops to 10.2% for recent grads, which endorses the idea there aren’t enough jobs to go around. This is a field of study that can help you in other fields, so gaining an understanding can be important but majoring in anthropology can leave you with few job opportunities.
  • Photography Kiplinger puts this major at the top of its list, citing the statistic that the number of photographers is expected to expand by 12% over the next decade, while job growth in this area only hits about 8%. Forbes agrees, posting a 12% unemployment rate for recent grads. This major, as well as graphic design (below) lend themselves to freelance and side work until one can find the right job and salary fit.
  • Graphic Design – with the rise of digital and decline of print, Kiplinger believes graphic designers will have a hard time finding a good employment fit, saying, “Only 64.7% of commercial art and graphic design majors have gone on to work full time.”  Forbes validates this by citing an unemployment rate of well over the national average as well as a median income for recent graduates of around $30,000 annually. If this is your area of passion, leaning toward learning more digital design and coding skills might give you a boost, but there are no guarantees.
  •  English Language – Forbes and Think Advisor agree on this major, while Kiplinger cites communication and mass media majors in the same vein. Forbes notes an unemployment rate of around 10% for recent grads with a median income well below

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