No questions asked, earning a college degree is one of the most significant moments of many’s lives. As such, picking a major is incredibly important, and choosing the wrong one can lead to a lifetime of stress. So let’s take a look at the most valuable college majors in 2021…
Architectural Engineering: The Most Valuable College Major
Recently, Bankrate, a consumer financial services company, decided to complete a study to determine the most valuable college degrees today. How did they do it? Well, Bankrate took a look at both the unemployment rates and median incomes of the 160 most popular bachelor’s degrees. As you might have guessed: the lower the unemployment rate and the higher the income level, the better the college major.
So, what’s the most valuable college degree? It’s not what you might have suspected – it’s architectural engineering. That’s right. For those who don’t know, architectural engineers “is a profession that applies technology and science to the creation of buildings and communities. This career field integrates various disciplines including scientific principles, construction and environmental systems to design and construct structures that are economically viable, sustainable and add value to society as a whole,” explains Indeed. Given the importance of this job, it has an unemployment rate of just 1.3% and a median income of $90,000.
“Engineers are in demand,” said Rich Miller, department head of civil and architectural engineering and construction management at the University of Cincinnati’s engineering school. “If you want to hire one of our students, if you’re not interviewing them now, chances are you’re not going to be able to hire them when they graduate in April.”
STEM Comes Out Ahead, As Always
Outside of architectural engineering, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) college majors remain the most valuable, as always. In recent decades, STEM degrees have become more and more critical in an increasingly connected world. In fact, STEM degrees made up every single one of the top 25 degrees in the Bankrate study.
Of course, college students should not pick a college degree solely on which will make them the most money. Let’s face it: STEM majors are not for everyone. They are information-heavy, and the courses are often fast-paced and challenging. As Bankrate explains, “there is a psychic paycheck for going into a low-paying field like social work.”
However, pay and employment should like come into the equation a little bit. So, let’s take a look at the least valuable college degrees…
Arts Are On The Bottom
Sadly, art and arts-based degrees are not as financially solid. While art-related degrees made up almost all the spots at the bottom of Bankrate’s degrees, visual and performing arts took home the last place “prize.” The median income of visual and performing arts degrees comes in at just $35,500, with a whopping 3.6% unemployment rate. Other miscellaneous fine arts majors and drama and theater arts degrees also had median incomes below $45,000 and high unemployment rates.
If you are thinking about an art degree, think about ways to save money during college, to set yourself up for success. “Consider community college for the first couple of years before transferring to a university for the final years of the program,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “Look for scholarships, grants and work-study programs – all of which could defray the out-of-pocket costs of a degree…And calibrate the cost of the school with your earning potential at the other end.”