QoD: What percent of college graduates end up working in the field of their major?

Sep 15, 2019
Question of the Day, Career

Answer: 27%


  1. Which majors do you think are more likely to lead to a job in that field?
  2. What steps can you take to prepare yourself for employment, regardless of which major you choose?
  3. Given that almost 3/4 of college grads end up in fields that are not related to their major, do you think it's a good idea to consider multiple majors while in college? 

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom. 

Behind the numbers (Inside Higher Ed):

A New York Federal Reserve Bank study came up with this 27% statistic. The Inside Higher Ed article goes into the details coming from a report based on a huge database of 125 million professional profiles compiled by Emsi. The Emsi report looks at six broad categories of study: languages and philosophy, the social sciences, business, communications, engineering, and IT.

Not surprisingly, the typical path is more of a swirl than a straight line.

The report found that just over half of all jobs tracked in the database were in a business function, one-third in STEM, and one fifth in “soft skills” jobs.

To read about which majors command the highest salaries, check out this Marketplace article.


What's the value of a college degree? Check out this Data Crunch to get the answer. 


About the Authors

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an M.B.A. in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducting student workshops, and developing finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

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.