College majors that may be a waste of money

Parents and society as a whole stress the importance of getting a college education, and rightly so. But even today there are some professions that, while they may require special training, don’t require a college degree. And as such, there are some majors that, unlike most degrees which increase earning potential, would actually be a loss of major money. This, according to Kiplinger, which “analyzed data for 215 popular college majors, looking at the typical starting and mid-career salaries expected from each.” The forecasting publisher also “examined recent online job postings seeking candidates with those majors, as well as long-term growth expectations for related occupations, to determine hiring demand in these fields.”

Topping this list of the worst college majors is Culinary Arts, where the starting salary is $35,000 and by mid-career averages $51,900 annually. Why did this profession top the list? “Low pay plus few job prospects are the recipe for a troubling career,” reported Kiplinger. “Chefs and head cooks can expect a median income of less than $40,180 a year, and you need five or more years of experience, making even less money, to become one.” For most careers in this sector, experience holds more weight than a degree.

In second place was photography, with a typical starting salary of $37,300 and a mid-career earning potential of $56,000. This is a fast-growing field but that doesn’t mean you’ll wind up a celebrity photographer making millions. “The median income for a photographer is just $30,715 a year. Plus, you can’t count on capturing a steady paycheck. Many companies are fulfilling their photographic needs with freelancers. Indeed, a whopping 61.7% of photographers are currently self-employed (compared with just 6.5% of all workers),” reported Kiplinger. A better degree choice might be visual communications; these majors on average earn $39,400 starting out and $62,500 after a few years in the field. And, the skill set is in high demand–there were nearly 245,000 online job postings last year.

The third worst college major is Art. An art major can expect a starting salary of $36,500 and a mid-career salary of just $57,300. “Fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, typically enjoy very little pay, earning a median income of about $23,860 a year. Demand for their work, after all, is dependent largely on people’s discretionary income (and fleeting tastes); when times are tough, purchasing art is left out of most household budgets,” reported Kiplinger. Maybe look into advertising, where you can expect to make a median income of $44,300 a year, rising to $81,400 a year with experience.

Rounding out the top 10 list of worst college majors were: Paralegal Studies (starting salary: $36,600; mid-career salary: $55,800), while there is 14.8 percent growth in the profession, many paralegal studies majors are underemployed, according to PayScale; Anthropology (starting salary: $39,100; mid-career salary: $59,600), again there is a high projected job growth rate for anthropologists and archaeologists but there are actually very few positions available; Graphic Design (starting salary: $39,300; mid-career salary: $59,600), with people relying more on digital design this sector is waning; Radio, Television and Film Production (starting salary: $39,600; mid-career salary: $66,500), even though this may sound like an exciting career, very few make it to the Hollywood elite level; Religion (starting salary: $37,800; mid-career salary: $56,300), as to be expected a religious calling doesn’t equal big bucks; Animal Science (starting salary: $34,700; mid-career salary), Kiplinger says skip animal science and consider studying food science which will have a bigger payoff; and lastly, Exercise Science (starting salary: $35,200; mid-career salary: $56,000, again go for the alternative as a physical therapist.