You’re majoring in what? And what are you planning to do with that college major?
You’re probably thinking that I’d be asking that of an English major. At least, that’s the way the classic joke goes. Everyone knows you can’t get a job with an English degree. “Everyone” knows that English isn’t a “practical” college major.
But did you know you can’t get a decent job with a college chemistry degree? A biology degree? A math degree?
Surely that must be wrong. Even as I type this, I expect someone to comment and contradict me. Those are all difficult degrees that take a lot of brain power and dedication to complete. But I’m basing that comment on myself and people I know, not a set of data or a study. Some of us did end up with jobs, but only after we went to graduate school and, even then, usually at a pay rate lower than other “easier” degrees.
Among my friends I know a woman who got her degree in chemistry and then worked as a lab technician for under 25K a year. She opted not to go back to school and get a graduate degree. She’s now a full-time substitute teacher. (She loves it.)
Another graduated with a biology degree and found the only job she got was as a lab technician at $7 an hour. This was about 20 years ago, but still. That’s for a BS degree at a flagship state university; it wasn’t cheap. She opted to go back to school and get a nursing degree, but it took her 15 years after that for her to pay back all her school loans. (She could have ended up in a similar place with a 2 years associates degree instead of a 4 year, more expensive, university degree.)
My female friend who majored in math, when she found she couldn’t get a job that was satisfactory in any way, including pay, decided to get her MBA (masters in business). With her MBA she got lots of offers and did work in the business sector for awhile. But, she felt she could have gotten to the same place with an “easier” undergraduate degree. (I have heard since then that a lot of math majors end up as computer programmers, so possibly this is changing.)
All of these women ended up in their college majors the same way I did. They picked the subject they had enjoyed the most in high school. And they were under the impression that since they were pursing a difficult degree, surely there would be some interesting jobs they would be qualified for when they finished with their bachelor’s degree. Most of us found that we had to go to graduate school.
I majored in Chemistry in college. I’ll talk about my own experiences in my next post.
Articles in this series, How to choose a college major
- You’re majoring in what? – How to choose a college major Part 1 Your college major is what? It’s not just English majors. Did you know you can’t get a decent job with a chemistry degree? A biology degree? A math degree?
- College Majors – How to choose a college major Part 2 Is a STEM degree in science a good choice for a college major? What jobs can you get if your college major is in science?
- Employment Numbers – How to choose a college major Part 3 How do you choose a college major? Questions for college career centers. The numbers for STEM science college degrees might surprise you.