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What’s a “Safe” Major?

What’s a “safe” major?

These days, it is becoming more difficult to find a job after graduating from college. So much competition, such few spots! With unemployment rates remaining high, students are preparing earlier than ever to avoid this plight. The days of any guaranteed employment are over.

More students are now choosing majors that they believe are “safe” rather than simply “interesting”. There are a few that have shined in multiple areas, which classify them as the safest and most rewarding majors.  I have ranked them in the table below, using a weighted factor scale that considered starting salary and “safety”.  Each major below is paired with the college that offers the strongest program for that field, which was determined by research opportunities, quality of faculty and employment rate after college.

The majors considered to be the most “interesting” were also found to be the most satisfying emotionally, but not monetarily. For example, you might want to teach children for a living. This is a commendable career choice, but it won’t be reflected in your bank account at a starting salary of $31,400, a whole $10,000 less than the lowest starting salary of any of the top five ranked below. There is also little to no room for a salary increase within these fields, whereas the salary almost doubles for mid-career employment within the ranked majors below.

So, what makes a major “safe”? The safety of a major is determined by two factors: its projected job growth and unemployment rate. These two factors were weighted the heaviest because the ranked majors below have small deviations in starting salaries but vary widely in growth projection and employment rates.

Rankings of the Safest Majors

Ranking Major Program
1 Engineering Massachusetts Instituteof Technology
2 Computer Science Carnegie Mellon University
3 Nursing Johns Hopkins University
4 Pharmacy/PharmaceuticalSciences Purdue University
5 Mathematics Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

  1. Engineering – Average starting salary: $54,900   Projected job growth: 39.1%   Unemployment rate: 4%
  1. Computer Science – Average starting salary: $57,500   Projected job growth: 21.7%   Unemployment rate: 4.7%
  1. Nursing – Average starting salary:$54,100   Projected job growth: 26%   Unemployment rate: 4.8%
  1. Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences – Average starting salary:$42,100   Projected job growth: 36.4%   Unemployment rate: 2.5%
  1. Mathematics – Average starting salary:$49,800   Projected job growth: 23%   Unemployment rate: 5%

As much as you may be interested in pursuing Philosophy as a major in college, it may not be the best financial decision for you in the long run. Consider studying one of the “interesting” major choices as a minor, in addition to one of the thriving fields mentioned above. These are fields that are steadily growing in size, which means more job opportunities for you after college!

You never know what you might be interested in while you’re still in high school, so keep your mind open and take these factors into consideration when deciding on a major.

 

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