Choosing a Low-paying Career at the Age of 17

When students compile their college lists, they are most often influenced by weather, sports teams (or lack thereof) and access to concerts/raves.  However some high school kids actually know what they want to study and seek schools that offer majors in their areas of interest.  A few practical kids go for Petroleum Engineering, a career with a whopping starting salary of up to $155k, but one that requires coursework like Chemical Methods for Subsurface Characterization, and Advanced Reservoir Fluid Analysis.  

It come as no surprise that those who choose the majors which are the most altruistic, most interesting and most important to society will never be able to support themselves.  

According to, here are the worst-paying college degrees along with median starting and mid-career pay:  

  1. Child & family studies $29,600 $40,500
  2. Elementary education $32,400 $44,000
  3. Social work $32,200 $44,300
  4. Culinary arts $29,900 $46,800
  5. Special education $34,300 $47,800
  6. Recreation & Leisure $34,500 $49,100
  7. Religious studies $32,900 $49,700
  8. Athletic training $34,600 $50,200
  9. Public health $35,500 $51,700
  10. Theology $35,600 $52,000
  11. Art $35,300 $52,400
  12. Art history $38,300 $53,300
  13. Paralegal/Law $35,300 $53,500
  14. Animal science $33,800 $53,700
  15. Multimedia/Web design $40,400 $53,900

Sadly, we don't know if we can trust  (One can only imagine how much they pay their researchers.)  In fact, we know a Public Health official who has three homes and a collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, a chef with a private plane, as wells as a web designer who charges $15k per website and is too busy to answer emails.  And we have never met a single Petroleum Engineer whilst on the gondola in Aspen.

Many students think they can increase their admissions chances if they indicate a preference for an unpopular major.  But many of the above starvation-level majors are hugely sought after.  The Neurotic Parent's best advice is to worry about one thing at a time. Having said that, if you can't stop yourself from prematurely obsessing about your student's mid-career salary, make sure his or her list includes Texas A&M, Colorado School of Mines and the University of Tulsa, all top institutions for petroleum engineers.


Choosing a Low-paying Career at the Age of 17 — 1 Comment

  1. Internet is written with the capital letter in a sentence, by the way. And hundredths are written not with a point but with a comma. This is according to the standard. And actually everything is very good..!