Interactive Monday: Career Outcomes by College Major

Feb 23, 2020
Career, Interactive, Employment, Paying for College
  • What are the employment prospects for the major that I am interested in? 
  • How much can I expect to earn right after college based on my major?
  • What earnings can I expect in the middle of my career?
  • Will I need a graduate degree in the field I'm interested in? 

These are just a few of the questions that students might ponder as they consider their college major. This interactive from the NY Fed provides this data and more on 70+ majors. Here's a sampling of the information provided (click to go to the interactive which I sorted based on unemployment rate). 

Wondering what underemployment is? Here's a definition: Underemployment occurs when a person does not work full time or takes a job that does not reflect their actual training and financial needs


  • What five majors have the lowest unemployment rate? The highest unemployment rates?
  • What five majors had the lowest underemployment rate? highest underemployment rate? 
  • What five majors have the highest median wages early career? mid-career? 
    • Is there overlap between the two lists? Do those majors with high early career wages also show up towards top of the list for mid-career? 
  • What majors have the highest share with graduate degrees? lowest share? 

Now pick three majors that you are interested in and create a chart to compare them across these dimensions:

  • Unemployment rate?
  • Underemployment rate?
  • Early career and mid-career wages? 
  • Share with graduate degree? 

Now analyze the chart you have created and answer these questions:

  • What other factors not listed here are important for you as you consider your college major?
  • Which of the three majors that you selected looks most favorable based on the factors in your chart? Use data from the chart as evidence. 


Here's another recent interactive that garnered lots of pageviews when it was posted: Visualizing Salaries for Hundreds of Occupations


Lots more fun interactives in the NGPF Interactive Library here




About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.