Major Decisions: What Graduates Earn Over Their Lifetimes

from Brookings

In late 2014, The Hamilton Project released two economic analyses and interactives on the earnings of college graduates by major: one set that showed career earnings profiles and lifetime earnings and another that showed an undergraduate student loan repayment calculator.

Both were—and still are—very popular because they provide useful and actionable information to college students who are trying to make choices that will affect them for years. To remain useful, these data needed a refresh. We have updated the data in both interactives to use earnings from 2014-18, and we have also expanded the number of majors available from 80 to 98. The updated interactives can be accessed on The Hamilton Project website: career earnings profiles and lifetime earnings and undergraduate student loan repayment calculator).

More here.

Posted in Careers, Education and tagged , , , .

One Comment

  1. Throughout High School, I never gave any thought to what I wanted to do with my life. Since I did not have the option to choose which classes I took, there was no way for me to find something I was interested in. Unsurprisingly, I still have not declared my major, but I have come close to finance on multiple occasions. This is not because I have a deep-rooted interest in finance, it is because that is what my dad has experience with, and there is potential for me to make a lot of money. However, the more I research and educate myself, the more I see that every major provides an opportunity to make an abundance of money. There is no major that will guarantee that you will become rich. As this article states, the top tenth of economics graduates earns more than ten times over their career what the bottom tenth earns. Because earnings vary so much within each major, it would be a mistake to choose a major solely based on earning potential. I always believed that money equaled happiness and that if I made a lot of money, I would have nothing else to worry about. However, this idea is fading. Although I do want to and plan on making a lot of money, it is not everything.
    However, I still do believe that some majors are a dead end. I have friends who became communications majors because they love sports. I am not saying that you should ignore your passions, but it important to recognize and accept that a passion might not be enough to make a career. Again, there are sports broadcasters who make millions per year, but even well-known ESPN broadcasters do not make over 60K a year. Another important thing to monitor is the outlook for your job. If there has been a steady decline and that trend is going to continue, it is probably best to avoid that job. An average job growth rate is between 5 and 8 percent. Anything lower than that should be a cause for concern. Deciding what you want to do with your life is a huge decision, but there is always time to change your mind and do what makes you happy.

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