High-Paying Careers For People With Notoriously Low-Paying Degrees

No matter what sales pitch your college recruiter feeds you, the only thing certain about the post-college job market is the five-figure student loan debt load you’ll probably carry when you enter it. 

It may seem like a finance or medical degree may be the  only way to earn enough to face that kind of reality, but we’re a little more optimistic. 

We decided to look at the lowest-paying college majors, according to PayScale, and track down jobs in these fields that pay surprisingly well.  In most cases, these aren’t careers that happen over night, and many will require years of experience and working your way up through the ranks. The point is that a low-starting salary shouldn’t deter you from pursuing a certain degree or career path –– it’s what you do with it that counts. 

Note: Each job listed requires a bachelor’s degree. Salaries noted are mid-career estimates. 


Journalism graduates barely scrape by to begin with, earning a median salary of $35,600 and typically only reaching $64,700 halfway through their career, according to PayScale.

Here are three journalism jobs that pay more:

VP, Communications: $139,000

Corporate Communications Director: $103,000

Public Relations Director: $80,000


Religion majors certainly aren't in it for the money ---- it's the second-lowest earning major out there, starting at $34,100 per year and $58,400 by mid-career, according to PayScale.

Here are two religion-focused jobs that earn more:

Executive Director, Non-Profit organisation: $67,800

Senior Pastor: $58,900


Education degree-holders start out making a median salary of $34,900 and only get bumped up to $55,0000 by mid-career.

Here are three education jobs that pay more down the road:

Employee / Human Resources: $75,600

Instructional Designer: $63,000

Executive Director, Non-Profit organisation: $62,600

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice majors earn $35,000 starting out and a median salary of $52,000 at mid-career.

The key to earning more is moving up in the ranks of public service.

Here are three criminal justice jobs that pay better in the same field:

Intelligence Analyst: $85,100

Regional Manager, Loss Prevention: $79,000

Police Captain: $78,500

Graphic Design

Graphic design majors earn a median starting salary of $35,700 and clock $55,500 by mid-career.

Here are three jobs in graphic design that pay more:

Advertising Design Director: $96,500

Creative Director: $87,600

Web Art Director: $74,500

Art History

Art history majors earn a dismal $35,800 starting out and $54,000 mid-way through their careers. You can earn way more by thinking beyond the paint brush.

Here are three jobs in art that pay better:

Directors of Development for non-profit organisations: $69,800 (mid-career)

Museum Art History Curators: $59,400 (mid-career)

Multimedia Artist: $69,560


Unless you're heading for the silver screen, drama majors can expect to take home just 35,900 per year starting out and a median salary of $58,900 by mid-career.

Here are two jobs that pay better than most:

Regional sales manager: $72,500

theatre Production Manager: $60,100


Unless you're planning on becoming the next Justin Bieber, musicians have it especially rough. Music majors earn just $35,900 starting out and $51,100 at mid-career.

Here are two jobs in music that pay a bit more:

Audio Engineer: $58,800

General Manager, Restaurant or Night Club: $56,900


Spanish majors are the lowest paid, earning just $34,000 at the start of their careers and only reaching $65,900 by mid-career.

Here is a high-paying job option for Spanish majors:

Marketing Manager in Latin markets: $81,300

Linguist/Interpreter: Salaries for this field vary widely, but according to the Dept. of labour, the top 10% of interpreters can earn up to $86,000. Median starting salary is $51,650.


Psych majors don't have much to be psyched about in their careers. They typically earn a median starting salary of $35,900 and $60,200 halfway through.

Here are three psychology-backed careers that pay more:

Human Resources Director: $95,600

Senior Recruiter: $88,700

Regional/District Manager of Sales: $76,800

Location affects salary, too ...

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