Pros and Cons of Choosing a Low-Paying Major

By Mugdha Gurram / Posted: Sep 17, 2019 / 0 Comments / Posted in Student's Corner

Why Choose a Major with a Low-Paying Job Prospects
With U.S. students owing $1.56 trillion in student debt, salary prospects have become increasingly important when deciding on a major.

For many schools, the cost of attending, not to mention the interest that accrues on student loans, could total in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you’re going to be spending that much, it’s worthwhile to at least consider a degree that will give you the bang-for-your-buck that will lead you to a job that will allow you to pay back your loans within a short period of time after graduation.

Choosing a career and hoping for the best without doing your research is no longer an option for most people.

The issue is worse for some – research shows that women are much more likely to choose a job with lower pay prospects.

And because of that, many students gravitate towards STEM field and pre-professional degree programs that offer the allure of bigger paychecks.

Follow Your Passion And Change The World

But there’s something to be said for following your passion, even if that comes with a pay cut. Don’t lose hope if you love your degree and the low paying job it’s been predicted to lead to.

Passionate people create beauty and change in the world.

Good to Know: Research shows that love for your work correlates with higher productivity and job satisfaction. Sales improve 37% cross-industry, productivity by 31%, people are 40% more likely to receive a promotion, and are nearly ten times more engaged at work.

Make A Considered Decision

Choosing a low-paying major isn’t necessarily the wrong choice to make, but it is one that should be made deliberately and thoughtfully. When pursuing a low paying major, consider a few things:

Plan Ahead

Knowing your likely income can help you plan to balance your financial obligations best if you choose to pursue a lower-income major. But do your research thoroughly. Look closer at your specific field/job.

Salaries can vary drastically within a field. Someone who majors in English could end up being a lawyer or a high school teacher. Both highly respectable, but with a pay difference.

Research Average Salary

Research not only starting salary but also average salary. Also, be aware of opportunities to grow in your field. As a whole, job growth and job security are essential factors to consider along with salary.

Individual growth is also an important consideration. Seeking out more educational degrees or certificates might help you earn more.

Salaries for those with at least a master’s degrees, for example, have increased significantly more than wages for those without a degree over the last few decades.

Whatever it is you decide to do, know the options available to you.

Remain Flexible

You don’t have to be limited by your degree. Almost a third of Americans are working in a job that is unrelated to their original field of study.

Neuroscience majors become comedic actors, and music students become marketing executives.

Your degree doesn’t just give you field-specific knowledge. It also gives you lots of transferable skills that can be used in a variety of fields and jobs. Employers prioritize experience over schoolwork, so utilizing your skills to gain work experience will make the transition much easier.

Take Anna Pickard (@annapickard), for example. After graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in theater, she later took a job at Slack, a tech company based in Silicon Valley. Anna uses her creativity to create fun responses to users who message the program with “I love you, Slackbot.”

She’s part of a growing trend of people without technical degrees being recruited by tech companies to facilitate the aspects that robots and code can’t take care of.

Look Into All Your Resources As A College Student

In addition to those transferable skills, your degree also gives you a lot of connections. Whether it be professors, advisors, classmates, or whoever else you meet while getting your degree, these are people who can give you a leg up in your chosen field.

Tip: Using connections can lead you to better-paying jobs, promotions, and other opportunities.

Look Into All Your Resources as a Working Adult

Many lower-paying jobs offer benefits to attract and retain employees. Public sector jobs, for example, often come with benefits such as student loan forgiveness if you work for them long enough. Health insurance, better scheduling, and employer-matched 401-k’s are also other benefits that can supplement lower salaries and allow you to survive till next paycheck without taking out and instant payday loan, that can serve a helping hand in case of unplanned expenses.

What It Comes Down To

Ultimately, it’s all about your priorities. Yes, there’s sadly sometimes (not always!) a trade-off between passion and money. But if you want to pursue a degree with lower pay prospects, go for it!

Salary isn’t the only measure of success in this world. And if the trade-off makes you anxious, fret not. There’s always room to grow within, or even change your field.

Works Cited
1. Harvard Business Review, “Women Dominate College Majors That Lead to Lower-Paying Work”
2. Forbes, “How Happiness Directly Impacts Your Success”
3. Forbes, Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2019: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis
4. Pew Research Center For Millennials, a bachelor’s degree continues to pay off, but a master’s earns even more
5. CBS News New study shows careers and college majors often don’t match
6. Forbes That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket
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