For example, English majors who become managers earn a median salary of $77,000, while their counterparts who become elementary and middle school teachers earn $51,000, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project on career paths after college. But the percentage of English majors who become teachers is more than twice that of those who become managers: 8.3% vs. 3.4%, which may indicate the availability of possible career paths for various majors.
“Different career paths and the associated earnings differences for students with the same college major are pervasive and important for understanding both the benefits of college majors and of college itself,” the report finds. “Differences in occupation account for a substantial fraction of variation in earnings.”
But occupational differences are only part of the story. What college graduates earn over the course of their careers is a function of multiple variables including gender and age. Using the interactive part of the Brookings study shows that the most common jobs for male English major graduates aged 25 to 34 are lawyers and judges, elementary and middle school teachers, editors and reporters, first-line supervisors of sales workers and postsecondary teachers.
The lawyers and judges are the least popular in the list, accounting for between 20% and 30% of those graduates, but they pay the most – a median $80,000; the postsecondary teachers are the most common but pay a median salary of just under $28,000. They are most likely adjunct professors, without full-time tenure.