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The 4 Lowest Paying Jobs for College Grads

Topics: Data & Research
There is a lot to be gained from getting a college degree, and securing a better paying job than you’d be able to otherwise is only one of the benefits. Ideally, time spent on higher education helps you learn to think, write, and speak your mind. It also helps to provide you with the skills and knowledge to pursue a career that you’re passionate about. Despite the high costs of a college education, most graduates certainly feel that college was worth the cost.
lowest paying jobs
Image Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr

However, these days it’s difficult to get ahead. Being able to afford to buy a home, or even just rent one and move out of your parents’ place, can seem like a distant fantasy to young graduates shouldering the burden of crushing student loan debt. For this reason, investigating the ROI of schools before making a decision is wise, as is being mindful about the choices you make about your career, in terms of potential future earnings. It pays to do your homework (and some soul searching) when it comes to higher education — college is simply no longer something you can assume will launch you into career and economic success the way it did for your grandparents.

Recently, 24/7 Wall St. did a little digging to find out which jobs offer the lowest salaries for educated workers. Pulling from job data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they identified some of the lowest paying jobs that typically require a college degree — although they note that “lower paying” is relative.

“Even the lowest paying jobs among them tend to be relatively high paying,” wrote Thomas Frohlich of 24/7 Wall St. “The median annual salaries of the 14 jobs on the list are all less than $50,000. In all but four of these occupations, the typical worker earns more than the national median wage of $36,200 a year.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the employment positions on this list, focusing on those four jobs that fall below the national median wage mark.

  1. Legislators

Although this job is almost always filled by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree, the pay is the pretty low — just over $20,000 a year according to the data. Although many work their way up from these positions into more lucrative ones, the time spent working as a legislator won’t go too far toward helping folks pay down those student loans.

  1. Religious workers, all other

Although these workers are often viewed as role models and pillars within their communities, they are often paid so little that they need to take on second or third jobs to make ends meet. It’s wonderful to work in a field that many find so meaningful, but that doesn’t mean these folks don’t need to pay their bills.

  1. Teachers and instructors, all other

Unfortunately, teachers, across the board, don’t earn as much as folks who enter into professions requiring a similar amount of education and training. Even when PayScale examined graduate degrees by salary potential, we found that education jobs came in toward the bottom of the list. So, you can imagine how little those who work as substitute teachers or other similar support positions must be earning.

  1. Proofreaders

You certainly need to be a decent grammarian to work as a proofreader, but apparently you won’t be rewarded too handsomely for exercising these talents. These folks earn a median annual wage of around $41,000, according to PayScale data — a little higher than the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data indicate, but lower paying for the expertise the job requires.

For more information, be sure to check out the complete list of the lowest paying jobs for college grads.

Could you be earning more at your job? Take PayScale’s Salary Survey and find out.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever worked one of the jobs listed here? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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