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Oct 17, 2013 02:08 PM EDT

Georgetown Study Tracks Majors By Employ-ability And Earning Potential


Choose the subtopics in your field of study wisely if you're a recent college graduate looking for sure employment.

That's one prevailing message from a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce titled "Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings."

Georgetown researchers studied data from 2010-2011 to determine the value of a college degree and which majors were most translatable to the "real world". Recent college graduates were defined as individuals between the ages of 22-26 with a bachelor's degree.

Within computer/mathematics and compared to all majors, information systems was the least employable major at 14.7 percent. Yahoo! reasoned that the field of study isn't strictly defined and falls between more specialized disciplines such as "computer science" (8.7 percent) and "business management" - two majors with much better employment rates.

In the arts, the least job friendly majors were film, graphic design, and fine arts - all with over 10 percent unemployment. Drama and theatre arts majors, however, experienced only 6.4 percent unemployment.

Unemployment rates were fairly high and pretty similar for concentrations within the social sciences. For humanities/liberal arts majors, anthropology and archaeology students (12.6 percent) were most at risk and foreign language and liberal arts students (8.1 percent) were safest.

Grads can shield themselves from the effects of a poor economy with work experience and a graduate degree. In the volatile field of architecture (12.8 percent for recent grads), for instance, the study found that unemployment decreased to 9.3 percent with work experience and 6.9 percent with a graduate degree.

Of course, with more experience and education earnings increased, the study showed. The proportion of increase varied depending on major. Engineering majors had the highest average starting salaray (54k) and the highest average earning potential (101k) -- which means some 22-26 year olds may be earning as much as $100,000 per year or more. Computers/mathematics (45k to 91k) and science (30k to 90k) also had high salaries for recent college graduates. 

For more data and majors, here's the full report.

It still pays to have a college degree, but the benefits take a few years kick in, according to the study. Researchers found that individuals with a college degree 25 years or older faced an employment rate of just under 5 percent while around 10 percent of their non-degree holding counterparts were unemployed. For the recent college graduate (22-26), however, the unemployment rate ranged from 5 to 15 percent. 

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