Think carefully about your college major: A bad decision could cost you $1 million.
A new Census Bureau report finds that engineering majors can make over $1 million more in the course of a lifetime than those who major in fields like psychology and education.
The median, or midpoint, of earnings for engineering majors who work full-time, year-round, was $91,611 per year, the report found. Education majors had the lowest median earnings among the degree categories included in the survey, at $50,902 per year.
Business majors fell somewhere in the middle, with median full-time earnings of $66,605.
Men had higher earnings than women in every degree category. Those who worked in the private sector also tended to make more than those who work in government. Many education majors work for the government as public school teachers.
The report is based on 2011 American Community Survey, an annual sample of more than 3 million American households, and looked at people ages 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
It comes as many Americans are heading to college – or back to college – in the hopes of improving their job prospects amid a tight job market.
In general, experts say that’s a smart move: A college degree usually puts you on the path to higher earnings and more job security over the course of a lifetime.
Still, in recent years it’s also left many Americans burdened with debt. That’s why experts say it’s more important than ever to make sure you choose a field of study that is likely to lead to a good job.
Of course, not everyone has a passion for, or ability to do, work in the more lucrative fields of science and engineering.
For those with a passion for education, there may be a silver lining. A separate report released this year by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that education majors enjoyed among the strongest job prospects because the unemployment rate is low in the teaching profession.