31 Worst Paying College Majors: 2017

ThinkAdvisor narrowed down PayScale’s ranking of 336 majors and found that helping people can be a financially thankless job

Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cooks, clergy or child care specialists, at least if they want to find high-paying jobs once they graduate college, according to findings of PayScale.com in its 2016-2017 College Salary Report.  Of the 336 majors ranked, those involving caring for people or feeding them averaged some of the lowest starting salaries.

But take heart, young graduates: The job landscape is full of CEOs, TV chefs and even investment managers who eschewed better-paying math and science majors and still climbed well beyond the average pay levels shown here.

(Related: 30 Best Paying College Majors: 2017 and 16 Best & Worst 529 College Savings Plans)

The rankings below are based on data collected by PayScale from 983 universities and include graduates with bachelor’s degrees in 336 disciplines. The universities surveyed include 85% of U.S. schools with an enrollment of more than 5,000 and 62% of schools with enrollment over 1,000, using a sample size of 1.4 million “degree holding, full-time, civilian employees working in the U.S.” The number in parentheses provides the overall ranking for the mid-career pay, defined as salary after 10 years on the job.

Here are the worst paying college majors of 2017:

Worst Paying College Majors

Theatre

31. (tie) Theater

Starting Salary: $36,500

Mid-Career Pay: $58,300 (284th worst)

31. (tie) Art

Starting Salary: $36,500

Mid-Career Pay: $56,500 (298th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Bible Studies

29. Health Services Administration

Starting Pay: $36,300

Mid-Career Pay: $51,500 (318th worst)

28. Bible Studies

Starting Salary: $36,200

Mid-Career Pay: $49,400 (326th worst)

(Related: 16 Best & Worst 529 College Savings Plans)

Worst Paying College Majors

Athletic Training

27. Athletic Training

Starting Salary: $36,000

Mid-Career Pay: $51,900 (316th worst)

26. (tie) English Teacher Education

Starting Salary: $35,900

Mid-Career Pay: $58,000 (288th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Exercise Science

26. (tie) Family & Consumer Science

Starting Salary: $35,900

Mid-Career Pay: $56,500 (297th worst)

26. (tie) Exercise Science

Starting Salary: $35,900

Mid-Career Pay: $54,700 (313th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Animal Science

23. (tie) Animal Science

Starting Salary: $35,800

Mid-Career Pay: $58,900 (277th worst)

23. (tie) Behavioral Science

Starting Salary: $35,800

Mid-Career Pay: $56,200 (300th worst)

(Related: 30 Best Paying College Majors: 2017)

Worst Paying College Majors

Broadcast Communication

21. Health

Starting Salary: $35,700

Mid-Career Pay: $60,700 (257th worst)

20. (tie) Broadcast Communication

Starting Salary: $35,600

Mid-Career Pay: $68,700 (191th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Art Teacher Education

20. (tie) Zoology

Starting Salary: $35,600

Mid-Career Pay: 67,300 (203rd worst)

18. Art Teacher Education

Starting Salary: $35,300

Mid-Career Pay: $51,300 (320th worst)

(Related: 16 Best & Worst 529 College Savings Plans)

Worst Paying College Majors

Paralegal Studies

17. (tie) Paralegal Studies

Starting Salary: $35,200

Mid-Career Pay: $54,900 (309th worst)

17. (tie) Therapeutic Recreation

Starting Salary: $35,200

Mid-Career Pay: $47,700 (330th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Special Education

15. Technical Theater

Starting Salary: $35,100

Mid-Career Pay: $67,700 (199th worst)

14. Special Education

Starting Salary: $35,000

Mid-Career Salary: $51,500 (318th worst)

(Related: 30 Best Paying College Majors: 2017)

Worst Paying College Majors

Bible Studies & Theology

13. Bible Studies & Theology

Starting Salary: $34,900

Mid-Career Pay: $50,400 (325th worst)

12. Early Childhood & Elementary Education

Starting Salary: $34,800

Mid-Career Pay: $41,900 (334th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Culinary Arts & Food Service Mgmt.

11. Culinary Arts & Food Service Management

Starting Salary: $34,700

Mid-Career Pay: $50,500 (322nd worst)

10. Human Development & Family Studies

Starting Salary: $34,300

Mid-Career Pay: $47,800 (329th worst)

(Related: 16 Best & Worst 529 College Savings Plans)

Worst Paying College Majors

Social Work

9. Human Services

Starting Salary: $34,000

Mid-Career Pay: $44,600 (332nd worst)

8. Social Work

Starting Salary: $33,800

Mid-Career Pay: $46,700 (331st worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Culinary Arts 

7. Culinary Arts & Culinary Management

Starting Salary: $33,600

Mid-Career Pay: $55,200 (307th worst)

6. Culinary Arts

Starting Salary: $33,100

Mid-Career Pay: $55,300 (306th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Youth Ministry

5. Youth Ministry

Staring Salary: $32,900

Mid-Career Pay: $48,400  (328th worst)

4. Pastoral Ministry

Starting Salary: $32,800

Mid-Career Pay: $50,500 (322nd worst)

(Related: 30 Best Paying College Majors: 2017)

Worst Paying College Majors

Child Development

3. Child Development

Starting Salary: $32,000

Mid-Career Pay: $42,500 (333rd worst)

2. Child & Family Studies

Starting Salary: $31,400

Mid-Career Pay: $40,700 (335th worst)

Worst Paying College Majors

Early Childhood Education

1. Early Childhood Education

Starting Salary: $30,700

Mid-Career Pay: $37,500 (336th worst—lowest of all majors)

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