6 College Degrees That Earn You a Lower Salary


In the past, it was worthwhile to obtain a college degree as you were almost guaranteed a higher starting salary. This was based on the degree program completed when compared to an employee with less education. However, that is not the case today. Individuals have the ability to earn a successful living without an advanced education, depending on their career path, or to make more than individuals who complete particular degree programs. If you are planning on enrolling in a college degree program, it is important to note the degrees that earn less. While you want to do something you love as a career, you also want to earn a comfortable wage. College is expensive and you want to be sure that the path you choose will be a wise investment. Below are a few examples of degree programs that do not pay well and may lead to less financial success than you imagine.

What is more important?

As a prospective college student, you must weigh what is more important to you. Are you more focused on making money or being happy in your career path? Consider the degree programs you are interested in. How much is the average salary per year? Is there a career within the degree program that will provide you with the salary you prefer plus give you a satisfying career path? These are all aspects to consider. It is also important to note the cost of college as compared to salary, once you find a job, especially if you are responsible for paying tuition. You want to find employment that will help you pay off your college cost plus have a home, car and other debt.


One degree program where individuals will see less-than-stellar earnings is sociology. Individuals that enroll in a sociology degree program usually want to enter into a specific field in order to assist others. While you will be able to see a significant level of job satisfaction, salary numbers will be low. A sociology degree used for gaining a job as a Social Worker can lead to a median salary of around $31,800. With this degree, an individual can earn up to $44,000 or more depending on location and employer.

Fine Arts

Perhaps you are interested in the arts and pursue a fine arts degree. You are passionate about artwork and want to use your talents as an illustrator or even a graphic designer. While this may be a career you enjoy, you will have to settle for a lower income. Depending on your employment position within the art field, you can expect to earn around $33,000 to $54,800. While you can make enough to pay your bills, you may find that you are not reaching the earnings potential you had hoped for when attending college for a fine arts degree.


From the early years of elementary school, many children grow up with the thought of becoming a teacher. Such individuals may have been inspired by their former teachers and want to provide the same quality learning environment for other students. It is not uncommon for someone to say that teachers should earn more, and they most certainly should. From day care providers to elementary and high school teachers, the median starting pay is around $35,000 with up to $54,000 to be earned depending on position and area of employment.

Recreation & Leisure

The great outdoors can be exciting and interesting to college students who major in Recreation and Leisure, but the pay upon finding a career can be less exciting. Individuals will find employment as a community planner, park manager or camp director but will only make from $33,000 to $53,000 based on the position of employment. While you may enjoy being outside or taking part in organized activities, the work compared to the pay may be less than desirable. You really must love the work you do in order to be happy with the salary provided in positions associated with Recreation and Leisure.

Culinary Arts

A degree in the culinary arts may sound interesting but can be one that does not provide a large income. The median pay for a culinary arts degree begins at $35,900 and can reach $50,000 or more depending on the position. You must have a passion for food and understand that having a position as a restaurant manager or catering manager will not pay what you might expect. Overall, this degree may not provide you with the healthy annual income you were expecting and it may be hard to live a certain lifestyle with the pay you will receive.

Religious Studies

A degree program that can be quite interesting for students is religious studies. Learning about various religions and regions of the world can be an eye-opener but not the best way to earn a living. You must be devoted to your job and in most cases, the employment position you will be offered will be within a religious organization or as a professor of such studies. You can expect to earn from $34,000 to $54,000 depending on the position of employment. If you truly love religious studies, you may find fulfillment in this area of work but may not bring in enough income to live a more than modest lifestyle.