13 College Majors Where The Pay Goes Nowhere

When deciding on a college major, students are encouraged to think about a few things: what they love to do; what they want to do; what jobs they imagine themselves in; and what the earning and growth potential is like for those careers.

For instance, they’d probably want to know ahead of time that Human Services majors only see their annual pay increase by about $US7,500, or 22%, over the first 10 years of their careers, compared to the average American worker, whose salary grows by about $US25,000, or 60%, in that time.

That’s according to Payscale, the creator of the world’s largest compensation database with more than 40 million salary profiles. It recently looked at the difference between starting (less than five years of experience) and mid-career (10 or more years of experience) pay by college major, and determined the 13 majors with the smallest salary growth.

“We’re not trying to discourage students from pursuing these majors — we’re simply offering information so that students can make informed choices and get the most out of their degree, whatever major they choose,” says Kayla Hill, a research analyst at Payscale.

Among the majors, Child Development has the lowest starting salary ($US32,200) and mid-career pay ($US36,400) — and shows the least amount of growth in the first 10 years ($US4,200, or 13%).

“Human support service majors tend to be paid less across the board,” Hill explains. “Child Development workers in particular may see less growth over time because it is a field that tends to be undervalued by society. Additionally, childcare workers may not have the same opportunities for advancement as more technical jobs, where learning new skills can lead to a pay bump or promotion.”

Human Services majors had the second lowest salary growth between starting and mid-career, while Early Childhood and Elementary Education had the third smallest.

“People in support service jobs tend to find a high level of meaning from their jobs despite the lower pay,” Hill says. “For many of these workers, the satisfaction and fulfillment they receive from helping others outweighs the lack of pay growth.”

9. Special Education

Common jobs: Intervention specialist; secondary school teacher; behaviour analyst

Starting median pay: $US34,500

Mid-career median pay: $US46,800

Difference: $US12,300 / 36%

7. Medical Technology

Common jobs: Laboratory manager; clinical laboratory technologist

Starting median pay: $US47,800

Mid-career median pay: $US60,200

Difference: $US12,400 / 25%

4. Clinical Laboratory Science

Common jobs: Clinical laboratory technician; clinical laboratory scientist

Starting median pay: $US48,000

Mid-career median pay: $US59,900

Difference: $US11,900 / 25%

3. Early Childhood & Elementary Education

Common job: Elementary school teacher

Starting median pay: $US32,300

Mid-career median pay: $US40,400

Difference: $US8,100 / 25%

1. Child Development

Common jobs: Daycare teacher; preschool teacher; nanny

Starting median pay: $US32,200

Mid-career median pay: $US36,400

Difference: $US4,200 / 13%

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