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Underemployment
The Most Underemployed Majors
What you major in may have a bigger impact on your career than where you earn a degree. People who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in these 10 subjects were most likely to say they were underemployed in our most recent study. Methodology
Rank Major %
Underemployed
Reason for Underemployment Starting
Median
Pay
%
Male
%
Female
% Who Feel Underpaid and
are Actually Underpaid
Common
Underemployed Jobs for These Majors
I am underpaid I am not using my education
or training
I work part-time but want full-time work
1 Criminal Justice 62.4% 78.7% 19.1% 2.1% $34,500 53% 47% 44.3% Paralegal / Legal Assistant,
Security Guard,
Police Officer
2 Business Management & Administration 60.0% 81.2% 16.7% 2.1% $44,300 48% 52% 44.6% Office Manager,
Customer Service Representative,
Retail Store Manager
3 Health Care Administration 57.6% 83.8% 13.8% 2.5% $43,800 24% 76% 44.4% Medical or Dental Office Manager,
Medical Office Biller,
Medical Coding Specialist
4 General Studies 54.5% 76.1% 17.4% 6.5% $32,100 39% 61% 47.1%

Administrative Assistant,
Customer Service Representative,
Cashier,

5 Sociology 52.5% 79.4% 15.9% 4.7% $38,900 30% 70% 53.4% Receptionist,
Human Resources Assistant,
Teacher Assistant
6 English Language & Literature 52.1% 75.3% 21.3% 3.4% $39,700 30% 70% 47.8% Administrative Assistant,
Paralegal / Legal Assistant,
Office Manager
7 Graphic Design 51.5% 84.6% 10.3% 5.1% $37,300 43% 57% 50.5% Web Developer,
User Interface Designer,
Marketing Assistant
8 Liberal Arts 50.3% 64.9% 24.7% 10.4% $34,200 30% 70% 37.7% Receptionist,
Retail Store Manager,
Bank Teller
9 Education 50.0% 73.6% 20.8% 5.6% $40,500 30% 70% 44.4% Daycare Teacher,
Teacher Assistant,
Tutor
10 Psychology 49.5% 70.7% 23.8% 5.6% $38,200 27% 73% 46.4% Human Resources Assistant,
Mental Health Technician,
Sales Associate
The Most Underemployed Majors

Students choose their majors for all kinds of good reasons, including enjoying the field of study or preparing for a dream job that requires a specific degree. No one would ever suggest that undergraduates modify their decisions based solely on occupational outlook or even college ROI. But it's never a bad idea to go into a years-long commitment armed with information. For that reason, it's worthwhile to take a look at PayScale's latest research, which shows the college majors whose graduates most frequently describe themselves as underemployed.

A few takeaways from the list of the most underemployed majors above: there are no STEM degrees in the mix, unsurprisingly. Science, tech, engineering, and math degrees tend to teach specific hard skills that employers are actively seeking. Graduates are in demand, and employers frequently complain that they don't have enough qualified workers to fill open positions requiring these skills.

Also, nine of the 10 most underemployed majors are female-dominated. This dovetails with PayScale's earlier research, which showed that the gender wage gap is at least partly due to fewer women choosing high-paying fields like STEM.

Finally, for those who might have been shocked to see Business Management & Administration on this list, when doing career research, it's always important to note which degrees will prepare students for careers directly after graduation, and which require advanced degrees (e.g. MBAs) in order to set up recipients for jobs in their fields.

Then there's the fact that even an MBA is no guarantee of a job. When it comes down to it, experience and skills development are just as important -- if not more important -- than the department name on your diploma.
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