College Majors with the Worst Salaries

Take a look at the “worst” salaries by college major – did your intended major make the list?

Kathryn Knight Randolph

July 15, 2021

College Majors with the Worst Salaries
Money isn’t everything, but it certainly helps make rent and student loan payments.
Money isn’t everything; but, it certainly makes a difference if you have college debt and you’re making rent, mortgage, or car payments. After all, you want your college education to have value beyond just getting a job. You also want it to help you live a sustainable lifestyle. With that, it is important to consider starting salaries for certain majors after graduation, especially if you’ll be graduating with student loan debt. Will the major you choose lead to a career that will enable you to manage your finances efficiently? Or will it feel like your drowning in debt when making payments? U.S. News and World Report has found the 10 college majors with the lowest starting salaries. Now, that’s not to say that these are the worst college majors, and you shouldn’t even consider them. However, if one of these is your intended career, do your research now on starting salaries and cost of living in your area. Don’t forget to calculate your estimated monthly student loan payments as well.
From there, you’ll have a better understanding of the financial implications of your college major decision.
  1. Design and Applied Arts Starting Salary: $43,122 Though the starting salary may not be amazing, this college major sounds like a lot of fun. Many people find purpose and creative fulfillment in using this major to design anything and everything, from interior spaces to websites to brand logos. In addition to learning classic art techniques, like drawing and painting, design and applied arts majors will also use virtual design programs to manufacture images.
  2. Criminology Starting Salary: $42,988 A career in criminology may not make you wealthy, but the field is truly fascinating. It is ideal for people who are interested in human behavior. Criminology majors study the biology, psychology, and socioeconomic factors that cause, or are related to, crime. After graduation, they can find jobs as forensic science technicians, police officers, private investigators, or probation officers.
  3. Hospitality Administration/Management Starting Salary: $42,931
    If you love to travel, it may be in your best interest to consider a hospitality administration or hospitality management major. These graduates go on to run hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and other companies that serve tourists, business travelers, and vacationers. Hospitality administration and management majors may also want to consider studying abroad while they’re in school to help widen their travel experience and study of the industry.
  4. Criminal Justice Starting Salary: $42,729 Criminal justice majors can find a variety of job opportunities after graduation, from law enforcement officers to youth correction counselors. This is a great major for students that are passionate about justice and working for the greater good in their community. Similar to a criminology major, you may study the biology, psychology, and socioeconomic factors that lead to crime.
  5. Human Development Starting Salary: $42,400 Human Development majors study the most interesting thing on this planet: humans. Courses in this major explore the cultural, biological, and psychological aspects of human growth. Graduates from this field may go into public health or public policy. They may also choose to become a child care or social worker.
  6. Psychology Starting Salary: $42,313 Psychology is actually the most popular major for college students in the U.S. However, there is a general misconception that all undergraduate psychology majors have to continue their education in order for their degree to be useful. Though psychiatrists, counselors, and some social worker roles require further education, you’ll find jobs in a variety of fields, like healthcare, business, and education, with just an undergraduate psychology degree.
  7. Health and Physical Education/Fitness Starting Salary: $41,778 Looking for a major that is “all fun and games?” Perhaps it’s not all fun and games, but a major in health and physical education also requires that students take kinesiology, morphology and physiology. Upon graduation, these majors go on to become coaches, fitness instructors, and physical education teachers.
  8. Animal Science Starting Salary: $41,080 An animal science major can lead to a variety of careers. There are those students who choose to focus on the business side of animal science, which would lead to a career in animal management. Others may want to focus on animal breeding, behavior, and physiology, which will prepare them for a career in animal care and medicine.
  9. Education Starting Salary: $39,543 Education majors truly make a difference in the world. They are responsible for the education of future generations, both inside and outside of the classroom. If you decide to study Education in college, your coursework will likely cover education theory, child development, and contemporary issues within the classroom.
  10. Social Work Starting Salary: $37,727 Social workers are also integral to making a difference in the world. They help vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals through difficult circumstances. As an undergraduate student, you may study social welfare systems as well as different challenges that people may face, like homelessness, family violence, or addiction. After graduation, you would be able to find an entry-level job as a case worker or mental health assistant.

Choosing the Perfect College Major

As you consider college majors, you should consider a few things. The first is whether or not this major, and eventual career path, will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment. Many students find joy in choosing careers that may not make as much money but that certainly go a long way toward helping others. You should also consider whether your post-graduation salary can accommodate your living circumstances. Can you afford your student loan payments, along with a monthly rent and car payment, with your eventual salary? Considering both sides to your college major choice will ensure that you’re making a decision with your head – and your heart.

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