Want a Job? Go to College, and Don’t Major in Architecture
Unemployment for new graduates is around 8.9 percent; the rate for workers with only a high school diploma is nearly three times as high, at 22.9 percent.
That’s according to a new report [PDF] from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
The chart above shows unemployment rates sorted by major, based on 2009-10 census data. You can also see jobless rates for graduates of a given undergraduate major who went on to receive further education (not necessarily related to their college major). In the chart, “recent college graduate” refers to workers who are 22 to 26 years old; “experienced college graduate” covers those 30 to 54; and “graduate degree holder” is limited to workers 30 to 54 years old.
Some majors even produced college graduates who, at mid-career, earned more than workers from other fields who went on to received a tertiary degree. For example, experienced workers whose highest degree was a bachelor’s in health care are more likely to be employed than people with graduate degrees who majored in most other fields.
Those who majored in less technical subjects, like humanities, arts and social science, had higher unemployment rates.
The unemployment rate for recent graduates was highest in architecture, at 13.9 percent, probably at least partly because of the housing market collapse. Even architecture majors who went on to receive graduate degrees, which usually safeguard workers from unemployment, are doing poorly in the job market. With a jobless rate of 7.7 percent, architecture majors who hold graduate degrees are still more likely to be unemployed than newly minted college grads who studied journalism (!).
Those lucky architecture majors with postgraduate degrees who do have jobs are doing O.K., though. Among full-time, full-year workers in this group, median earnings are $71,000:
As you can see in this second chart, many of the majors that produced low unemployment rates also pay pretty well. That makes sense, when you consider that graduates of some fields are in high demand, which forces employers to offer them higher salaries.
That’s not true across the board, however.
People who majored in education, psychology and social work, for example, have low unemployment rates, but don’t make much money. Their earnings also don’t improve a lot when they gain more experience or postgraduate schooling.
“Some majors offer both high security and high earnings, while other majors trade off earnings for job security,” the report says.