It’s important to preface this article with the statement that following your passion is a great thing, and the value of doing so is intangible.
If you love your major, and you’re excited about your future career, and you couldn’t imagine being in anything else, then by all means, ignore everything in this article and keep living your life. You’ll be happier for it.
As it happens, not all of us find it as easy to decide. Some of us just aren’t that committed. We like a lot of stuff.
It can be really difficult to pick just one thing to major in when you know it’s not the only thing you could be happy doing. That’s when factors other than passion start coming into play.
Chief among them: will I be able to get a job after I graduate with my major? Like, any job? Anything at all?
We at Zippia used to have these same worries back when we were in college, so now that we’ve got the resources at our disposal to figure things out, we were curious. Which majors have the highest unemployment rates?
Looking at Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we put together a list of just that. The full list can be found below, but first, here’s a quick top ten.
Woof. Communications and the Arts are not doing well here so far.
Before we get to the full list, let’s talk a little more about how we put it together.
Using Census Data from PUMS, we looked at the total number of people who graduated with each particular major. Then using data for which of these people were employed versus unemployed, we came up with percentages for each major’s unemployment level, which we then used to rank each major. The higher a major ranks on this list, the lower its employment rating.
That’s all — pretty simple for this one. Below you’ll find a more complete breakdown of our top ten list, along with unemployment percentages for each major.
Unemployment Rate: 17.54%
If your school had a Rhet. Comp. department, then you almost certainly took at least one class from this major. The freshman and sophomore level general education writing courses, and occasionally junior level writing courses, are typically taught by folks from this department.
Despite their ubiquity — or maybe because of it? — there doesn’t seem to be a ton of job opportunies for Rhet. Comp.ers, with nearly 20% of these majors unemployed.
Unemployment Rate: 11.79%
The study of the environment: how it works, and how we humans are pretty much totally wrecking it. Kinda depressing that the unemployment rate is so high for this major, given how clearly in need we are of people with this expertise.
Unemployment Rate: 11.76%
Anthropology is the science of humanity, and it’s often lumped together with its most popular subset Archaeology, which is the study of humanity as learned through analyzing “material culture” — that is to say, looking at all the crap we humans have made throughout history.
As with Environmental Science, it seems similarly ominous to see that there’s no jobs for folks studying history. Something about us being doomed to repeat it?
Unemployment Rate: 11.42%
Oh, actors. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them — at least until whoever’s in charge of Student Housing quits ducking your calls.
(Kidding. We love actors here at Zippia; check out our page on them.)
Still, though, tough to see so many art-related majors on this list, although it’s true that there’s only so many paying gigs when it comes to acting. If you’re having trouble making it big, maybe try smaller — instead of going to NY or LA, try a theatre company in a more manageable-sized city.
You’ll still make connections while getting practical experience that might help you move on to bigger things later, or maybe you’ll even find that you like the smaller city vibe.
Unemployment Rate: 11.24%
These are the people who have a camera with them literally everywhere they go, but occasionally, they’ve actually, you know, studied photography.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to make them much more attractive to potential employers.
Unemployment Rate: 10.92%
With a Mass Media major, you’ve studied the way that communication works on a global scale in the modern world. It also practically guarantees that you have at least briefly considered adding the words “social media guru” to your resume at least once.
Unemployment Rate: 10.90%
“What are you gonna do with that?” is perennially the most annoying question people with Fine Arts majors get from their family. As such, it’s at least a little disappointing that Fine Arts Major shows up on our list, if only because of how much I hate the people who love to ask that question.
Oh, right, and art is important for a modern society to function or have hope, or something like that.
Unemployment Rate: 10.84%
With this major, you really get the chance to dig into a particular group or demographic that interests you and immerse yourself in that local culture, getting more of a grasp on how that particular group views the world. It can broaden your horizons and allow you to act effectively and mindfully as an advocate for oppressed groups, and yet apparently, it will not help you much when it comes to finding a job. :/
Unemployment Rate: 9.93%
Of a similar vein as the previous item on this list, but rather than digging into a smaller area of people, you’re looking at entire cultures on a national or global scale. Also similar to the last item, this seems like a pretty important subset of knowledge to be so very difficult to employ.
This is the hardware and software that makes mass media and the communication/information age tick. You’d think for this one there would at least be a lot of jobs in, I don’t know, Silicon Valley or something. Aren’t phones supposed to be a big deal right now?
So in a nutshell, the people least likely to get a job in America are the ones who majored in subjects that focus on effective communication, understanding other cultures and our effect on the environment, and making beautiful works of art. That probably says something about us.
Well, that pretty much does it for this very depressing list. Make sure you check out our official major pages for these and other (more employable) majors. You’ll find the more complete list below.
|Composition And Rhetoric||17.54%|
|Anthropology And Archaeology||11.76%|
|Drama And Theater Arts||11.42%|
|Film Video And Photographic Arts||11.24%|
|Area Ethnic And Civilization Studies||10.84%|
|Intercultural And International Studies||9.93%|
|Advertising And Public Relations||8.71%|
|Multi-Disciplinary Or General Science||8.57%|
|Commercial Art And Graphic Design||8.24%|
|Criminal Justice And Fire Protection||8.03%|
|English Language And Literature||7.92%|
|Treatment Therapy Professions||7.62%|
|Political Science And Government||7.04%|
|Philosophy And Religious Studies||7.04%|
|Computer And Information Systems||6.86%|
|Marketing And Marketing Research||6.62%|
|Business Management And Administration||6.47%|
|French German Latin And Other Common Foreign Language Studies||6.25%|
|Theology And Religious Vocations||6.06%|
|Community And Public Health||5.97%|
|Physical And Health Education Teaching||5.47%|
|Early Childhood Education||5.46%|
|Physical Fitness Parks Recreation And Leisure||5.43%|
|Health And Medical Administrative Services||5.22%|
|Family And Consumer Sciences||4.97%|
|Art And Music Education||4.71%|
|General Medical And Health Services||4.69%|
|Language And Drama Education||4.11%|
|Communication Disorders Sciences And Services||3.48%|
|Special Needs Education||3.11%|
|Natural Resources Management||2.00%|
|Social Science Or History Teacher Education||1.00%|
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