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The Back-To-School Report: Best And Worst Earning College Majors, Summer Unemployment

The Back-To-School Report: Best And Worst Earning College Majors, Summer Unemployment

With many students starting college this fall — virtually or otherwise — Benzinga looked at the highest-paying major for those with a college degree.

Deciding on a field of study in 2020 can be a daunting task. Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the financial viability of a major is at the forefront of the decision for many college-bound Americans.

Using data collected from the New York Federal Reserve, we compiled a list of the top 10 paying majors and majors with the lowest unemployment rates.

Unemployment Rates by Education

As of June, recent college graduates ages 22-27 with a bachelor's degree or higher are facing an unemployment rate of 13.3%.

College graduates ages 22-65 with a bachelor’s degree or higher are experiencing unemployment rates of 7.9% compared to the 12.6% rate among all workers. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported their Summer Youth Employment stats. The July unemployment rate of youth aged 16-24 was 18.5%, nearly twice as high as the rate the year before. In July, 17.5 million youth were employed with 24% working in the leisure and hospitality industry.

July's numbers are down from April's 26.9% youth unemployment rate, but still the highest recorded July rate since 2010.

Stem Field Domination

While there are several career fields that offer steady, early career income outside of engineering, STEM fields dominated the New York Federal Reserve 2020 rankings for the highest median salaries.

Nine of the top 10 median earning early-career salaries are within STEM fields.

Top 10 Early Career Median Wage Earnings By Major:

  • Electrical Engineering - $68,000
  • Chemical Engineering - $68,000
  • Computer Engineering - $66,000
  • Mechanical Engineering - $65,000
  • Aerospace Engineering - $65,000
  • Computer Science - $65,000
  • Industrial Engineering - $63,000
  • Civil Engineering - $60,000
  • Construction Services - $60,000
  • Miscellaneous Engineering - $60,000

Top 10 Lowest Unemployment Rate by Major:

  • Miscellaneous Education - 0.4%
  • Medical Technicians - 1.1%
  • Early Childhood Education -1.4%
  • Civil Engineering - 1.5%
  • Theology and Religion - 1.5%
  • Secondary Education - 1.7%
  • Elementary Education - 1.7%
  • General Education - 1.7%
  • Nursing - 1.8%
  • Biochemistry -1.8%

The median early career earnings figures represent a 2017-2018 average. Unemployment and underemployment rates are for recent college graduates and median wages are for full-time workers with a bachelor's degree only.


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