As an English major in my college years, there’s a truth I can comfortably share: All degrees are not created equal when it comes to finding financial success and professional stability.
Students that graduate with a degree in journalism do not have the same chance of financially lucrative careers as students that graduate with a degree in information technology or marketing. While one’s personality and individual skills should definitely play a role in pursuing postsecondary education, the differences in the opportunity different degrees offer are extreme.
Financial Success is Based Foremost on Salary
To state the obvious, the wage that you will earn once you locate a job will a contributing factor to your long term financial success. You should always check your chosen career field for the median salary for your career path. This will allow you to determine if the salary will be enough for you to live comfortably on later in your career.
Here are some median salaries for English major careers:
- The median salary for editor jobs is $51,000.
- The median salary for technical writer is $63,000.
- The median salary for author jobs is $74,350.
- The median salary for reporter jobs is $36,280.
For English careers, employees earn a relatively good wage. It seems clear that as long as you can find a job and keep that job, you will be looking at long term financial success. Simple enough. Until you consider that unemployment in the United States is currently 7.6%, and that rate climbs higher when you just figure in those who graduated with an English major.
The Lies English Majors Tell Themselves
“I can be successful and pursue my passion for writing, literature, art, history or photography.” That’s something like the line I continually told myself throughout my college years. Even with the voices of my professors assuring me that I could find employment with an English degree, I couldn’t help feeling slightly doubtful.
What they did not tell me is that graduated English and journalism majors will compete for 250,000 positions in 4 different career fields: editors, technical writers, authors, and reporters. To makes things worse, by 2020 there will only be 15,600 positions added to the job market for English and journalism majors.
The chances that I would land one of those jobs? As far as I was concerned, they weren’t all that good. I realized that any student who chooses to pursue this career track would need to compete for the positions available. They would need to proactively prove that they were the best of the best.
Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue your dream career as the next Lois Lane? I say if you want to be an intrepid reporter, go for it. With passion, preparation, and determination, you can find a successful career in your chosen profession. You just need to be aware that finding financial success in less lucrative careers is an uphill battle, especially if you have to face the pressure of taking out student loans. Yours will be a hard path, but it too can lead to financial success if you play your cards right.
The Safer Move for Financial Success
If you want to guarantee financial success without going through the ulcer inducing stress of competing in a less lucrative job market, you can do so by choosing a major that gives you access to lucrative careers. Information technology, marketing, and accounting majors are three flexible examples of job fields that offer a large pool of available positions and continued growth in the field.
As you decide which path you would like to pursue, you should keep in mind that you are choosing where you will be working for the next 10 to 50 years. While financial success should be a priority, it should not be the only priority. If you cannot see yourself being happy as an accountant, marketer, or IT guy, you should seek out other options.