Where the money is — and isn’t

NPR charts The Most (And Least) Lucrative College Majors.

Erin Ford graduated from the University of Texas two years ago with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering. Recruiters came to campus to woo her. She got a paid summer internship, which turned into a full-time job after she graduated. Now, at age 24, she makes $110,000 a year.

Michael Gardner just graduated from City College in New York with a degree in psychology. He applied for more than 100 jobs, had trouble getting interviews and worked at Home Depot to make ends meet. “Every single day while I was at work, I’m thinking, ‘I just hope I really don’t get stuck.’ ” Gardner just got a job earning $36,000 a year as a case worker — and he feels lucky to have it.

There are no surprises in the high-earnings chart. On the low side, a health/medical prep degree doesn’t pay well because it requires graduate work.

Income by major

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  1. A neighbor’s son — a bright enough kid, but not academically inclined — worked for a couple of years after high school delivering pizzas and making submarine sandwiches, then enrolled in a community college program in nuclear energy technologies. Before he even graduated, he was aggressively recruited by several multinational corporations and when he signed a contract he started out with a base salary close to $70k plus benefits such as company car and fully paid housing (his first assignment was abroad).

    College/university is the right path for some, even many, but we make a mistake steering “all” kids (even all bright kids) in that direction.