Actually want a job after graduation? Major in…


Wondering what to major in? If you’re a college student wondering what you’ll do after you graduate, it might be good to know that young workers with degrees in agriculture, mining, teaching and medicine are in high demand. So are those who studied physics or chemistry. But if you major in architecture or a social science, you might find it hard to get a job when you graduate.

That’s all according to a new report from researchers at Georgetown University. They found that although the unemployment rate for recent college graduates stood at 7.5 percent in 2012, not all majors gave students an equal chance of finding work. Just 5.1 percent of elementary education majors, 4.8 percent of nursing majors and 4.5 percent of chemistry majors were unemployed after graduating, to take a few specific fields.

Compared with these graduates, those who studied architecture or the social sciences are about twice as likely to be unemployed, with 1 in 10 young workers out of a job. The collapse of construction and the housing sector has left architects out of work, while social scientists often work in government and nonprofits, which saw their revenues evaporate.

The good news for young college graduates is that regardless of their major, they have a much better chance of finding work than their peers who didn’t go to college. Nearly 18 percent of young workers with only a high school diploma were unemployed.

Recent college graduates are even doing better than experienced workers who only have a diploma, 9.9 percent of whom were out of work.

That’s a change from three decades ago when an experienced worker with a diploma was better off than a young worker with a college degree. That change reflects the increasing importance of technology in the economy and the shift from manufacturing to service.

“There are lots of reasons to go to college,” Anthony Carnevale, one of the authors of the study, states. “Getting a job isn’t the only reason.” The monetary benefits, though — as long as you complete your degree on time — are significant. Those with college degrees make about 75 percent more than those with a high school diploma. The recession did not reduce that relative advantage, though wages have been declining for just about everyone for years.

+ Read the full study “From Hard Times to Better Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings” online.


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