(USA TODAY) Everyone has heard the stats: college graduates on average make much more than high school graduates throughout their lifetime. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the median earnings of young adults with bachelor's degrees is $46,900, while the median for high school grads is $30,000.
That means earning a bachelor's degree can net you a 57% increase in wages during your early working years!
However, not all majors reap the same financial benefits.
Getting a degree in education? Your starting pay will be significantly lower than your friend with a degree in engineering. We're not saying you shouldn't study what you're passionate about, but you should be aware of how much money you will likely make in your chosen field.
This is especially important if you are going into a lot of debt to finance your degree (it's difficult to make a $500 monthly student loan payment if your salary is only $31,000 a year).
Here is a list of the 10 lowest paying majors from College Factual. The list utilizes data collected by Pay Scale, based on survey responses from thousands of college graduates. We're counting down to the absolute lowest-paying degree, starting with number ten…
10. BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE: $33,800
Behavior Science is a multi-disciplinary major that combines elements of psychology, biology and the social sciences. This is a broad major that involves the study of human behavior and interactions. Because this major is so wide-ranging, there is no obvious career path for graduates. Many end up working in labs as research assistants or find jobs in the business world in advertising or marketing. The average midcareer salary for this major is $56,000. Salary and job prospects may improve for students who go on to receive an advanced degree.
9. EDUCATION, GENERAL: $33,800
A major in Education prepares you to be a teacher. Students take a variety of classes in teaching philosophy and psychology, and will usually pick a concentration in order to focus on a specific grade or subject. Unfortunately, teaching primary or secondary school can often be a low-paying job. In addition, in many areas of the country the hiring of new teachers has slowed significantly, making it difficult for education majors to find jobs in their field. Average midcareer salaries for this major are $51,400. Going on to receive a master's degree may help increase your salary prospects.
8. PARKS, RECREATION AND LEISURE STUDIES: $33,500
It shouldn't really be a surprise that a major with the word "leisure" in its title ends up on this list. A major in Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies involves a combination of classes in business administration, physical education, and sports science. Graduates often find work managing hotels, parks, spas, or other recreational facilities. Although jobs in this field can be fun and fulfilling, the work unfortunately does not pay that well. Average starting salaries are $33,500 with midcareer salaries of $49,400.
7. RADIO, TELEVISION, AND DIGITAL COMM: $33,300
A major in Radio, Television, and Digital Communications will have students learning how to operate audio and video recording and editing equipment, as well as mastering the crafts of story-telling and presenting facts to an audience. Students will take a variety of classes in communication, journalism, media, and marketing. The radio and television industries are very competitive, and few are lucky enough to make it big. Starting salaries are generally fairly low, and average midcareer salaries are about $56,100.
6. CULINARY ARTS: $33,000
Many aspiring chefs have the desire to work in 5-star rated restaurants, and wow diners with gourmet meals. A major in the culinary arts will teach you everything you need to know about cooking and baking, as well as provide classes in business, management and finance if desired. However, jobs in the culinary arts can be competitive, not to mention demanding. Students with a bachelor's degree in this field make average starting salaries of $33,000 and midcareer salaries of $51,200.
Human Development and Family Studies is an interdisciplinary major in which students learn how families and communities form, interact and develop throughout history. Students take a variety of classes in psychology, counseling, philosophy, and public policy. This is a broad major that could translate into a number of different career options, such as counseling, social work, or program coordination. Graduates with a bachelor's degree will find jobs with average starting pay of $32,700 and mid-career pay of $45,900. Many students may choose to obtain a master's degree for better job and salary prospects.
4. THEOLOGICAL AND MINISTERIAL STUDIES: $32,500
If your main interest in life is exploring spiritual enlightenment and helping others, and not in making money, then a major in Theological and Ministerial Studies may be for you. Students will study theology and the Bible, as well as take classes in history, philosophy, anthropology, education, and counseling. This degree prepares students for a variety of careers in ministry, missions or religious education. Average mid-career pay for this major is $47,500.
3. CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOLOGY: $32,300
A major in Child Development and Psychology allows students to learn about the unique emotional and mental needs of children, and how they can be best supported by their families and the public. A graduate with a bachelor's degree in this field may go on to jobs in social work, education, or research. Average mid-career salaries for this major are $52,100. A master's degree is required in order to become a licensed counselor or therapist. This will also provide opportunities for higher paid work.
2. SOCIAL WORK: $32,200
Students who major in Social Work study human behavior and interactions as well as mental health issues. Graduates typically work in the field of social work or mental health, and help individuals who are disabled or disadvantaged. Unsurprisingly, working with the most vulnerable and poor members of our society does not lead to jobs with high pay. Average starting salaries for this major are $32,200 with mid-career salaries of $46,000. Going on to receive a master's in social work or another related field may result in jobs with higher pay.
1. ANIMAL SCIENCE: $31,100
A major in Animal Science involves the study of animal biology, anatomy and physiology, as well as taking classes in agriculture, livestock, and business. Students who graduate in this area of study often find jobs in agriculture, working for farms or ranches. However, students can also find work as research assistants or lab techs in a variety of other fields. The average starting salary is only $31,100 a year, but the mid-career salary average is about $52,800.