More and more students are opting not to go to college these days, feeling like the massive debt they need to take on won’t pay dividends in the end. And they are not wrong.
While the cost of a college education keeps going up, salaries are staying stubbornly put. However, with such a tight jobs market, most employers still want to see a college degree on your resume.
The trick is to get the right one. Following are 10 college degrees that aren’t going to impress any hiring manager, as well as alternatives that can actually land you that job.
1. Composition & Rhetoric
The most useless major is probably one a lot of people don’t even know exists.
It is a subset of an English degree, described as a program that studies the humanistic and scientific elements of rhetoric, composition, literacy, and language/linguistic theories, as well as their practical and pedagogical applications.
Sounds interesting, but none of that really prepares a person for real world professional writing. Though print media is slowly dying, the demand for writers in digital media is only growing.
Go for the broader English degree instead, and let employers know that you don’t just understand writing theories, you can actually produce clean copy.
Unemployment rate for Composition & Rhetoric majors: 17.54%
2. Environmental Science
While the need for environmental scientists is growing, it is a highly specialized field and recent grads may struggle to stand out from the crowd.
However, many companies are considering their carbon footprint and are interested in how to better protect the environment without damaging the bottom line.
A major like Natural Resource Management could get your foot in the door – people with this degree have only a 2% unemployment rate.
Unemployment rate for Environmental Science majors: 11.79%
3. Drama & Theater Arts
The reason this degree won’t help you is that there just aren’t that many jobs available in the field. Making it big in theater is a long shot, to be sure.
Most hiring managers aren’t aware of how this degree could help their business, so working in any other industry will be a tough sell.
And, there are many ways to incorporate theater into your life without making it your whole life, such as community theater.
Choose a different major such as Language and Drama Education, which could land you a gig as a teacher.
Unemployment rate for Drama & Theater Arts majors: 11.42%
4. Fine Arts
A fine arts major immerses you in a number of creative artistic skills, including 2D, 3D, and digital art, and teaches a lot of art history and theory. You could also specialize in something like dance.
But while you grow as an artist, you’ll likely find yourself on your own to chase success as very few companies are impressed by the degree.
A true artist probably expects this and couldn’t do anything different if they tried. But everyone’s gotta eat, so lean toward Art and Music Education instead. That way you can teach some classes while you follow your passion.
Unemployment rate for Fine Arts majors: 10.90%
5. Paralegal Studies
Opinions are mixed on the future of the paralegal career. Some studies indicate that the rise of artificial intelligence will likely put paralegals out of their jobs, because it will no longer be necessary for people to pore over hundreds of pages of legal files to pull out relevant information for their bosses.
On the other hand, labor experts point out that the growth rate for this career is currently higher than average. Recent grads say that the competition is fierce for available jobs, so the key is to diversify your studies.
More than just a degree in Paralegal Studies is required to succeed – it also pays to be bilingual (especially in Spanish) or have an additional specialty in healthcare or real estate law.
Unemployment rate for Paralegal Studies majors: 4%, but underemployment is at 50.9%
6. Advertising & Public Relations
All companies need an advertising plan in order to succeed. Fewer companies do only advertising or only public relations. Data suggests that a broader range of hiring managers prefer a Marketing degree over Advertising & Public Relations study.
Even though the degrees are similar, a Marketing degree is more comprehensive, including market research, public relations, media planning, sales strategy, customer support, product pricing and distribution, and community involvement.
Expertise in marketing assures the company that you will be able to get their message out to the people.
Unemployment rate for Advertising & PR majors: 8.71%
There just isn’t enough work to go around for History majors, and while an understanding of the past can help to inform wise future decisions, employers really want to see candidates that are firmly in the now.
The main career a person can pursue with a history major is teaching, but even that requires a separate teaching credential. Other potential jobs include archivist or research assistant.
But if you combine Education and History into one course of study, you’ll broaden your appeal and find that history and social science teachers enjoy a low 1% unemployment rate.
Unemployment rate for History majors: 8.74%
8. Communication Technologies
This major schools you in communication systems, wireless technology, personal devices, e-commerce, and other rapidly developing new technologies, so it sounds as though it should be future-proof.
However, the demand for this major is centered in Silicon Valley, California. Unless that’s where you want to live, it may be wiser to undertake something like Computer Engineering, which opens you up for careers in both hardware engineering and software development.
Unemployment rate for Communication Technologies majors: 9.40%
9. Project Management
This is a field that can be confusing and considered “not a real job” by some. Project management is actually an important facet of important business goals because it breaks down, organizes, and delegates the required steps.
However, it is not a great degree to get all by itself. You’ll need some sort of expertise in the actual industry you pursue. You are better off majoring in something else and adding a Project Management certification onto a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
In other words, it is a great bonus to have on your resume, but not a standalone career.
Unemployment rate for Project Management majors: Unknown, as it is not an industry in and of itself
10. Exercise Science
Exercise Science is not considered a professional degree because it doesn’t lead directly into a long term career.
Sure, you can be a personal trainer, but careers like physician’s assistant, physical therapist, public health researcher, and exercise physiologist are going to require further study.
A better bet is a Nutrition Science degree, which can lead into work in gyms, cafeterias, hospitals, nursing care facilities, home health agencies, public health clinics, food manufacturers, research facilities, and private practice.
Unemployment rate for Exercise Science majors: 10.7%
None of these majors are totally without jobs attached, but you may struggle to find something that pays a living wage. Not just unemployment, but also underemployment, plagues recent grads with these degrees.
That means you may be forced to take something temporary in a different field, or accept part time work when you really need a full time salary in order to pay back your college loans.
We recommend doing some research on any major you’re considering. Determine the associated unemployment and underemployment rate, and see if perhaps there are other similar majors that would provide a better launching pad for your future career. Good luck!