Would you much rather work for Corporate America than stand outside picketing their offices downtown? Would you like to have a nice house (or two), a nice car (or two), and take a nice vacation every year? Well, there are college majors that will allow you to earn a sizable income, live a comfortable life, and save for retirement too. Luckily not all of those majors require math and science. The Economix blog over at the New York Times (HT: Susan Walsh of Hooking Up Smart) has an article titled “What the Top 1% of Earners Majored In.”
Some of these majors are bound to surprise you. International relations majors make up only 0.5 percent of the top 1%, but IR majors represent 6.7 percent of those in the 1%. Art History and Criticism majors constitute 5.9 percent of top earners. Area, Ethnic and Civilization Studies are a healthy 5.2 percent of the 1%. Finance and Health/Medical Preparatory Programs, a group includes future doctors, are also on the list.
With all the harping on the greatness of STEM majors it can easy to sometimes forget that (1) everyone is not great a math and science, (2) everyone does not enjoy math and science, particularly when it comes to working with these subjects day in and day out, and (3) there are other factors, such as entrepreneurial ability that will determine how much money you can earn.
A history major who writes books on financial history (see: Niall Ferguson, author of Civilization: The West and the Rest) can earn millions of dollars year, while a chemical engineer who works for the same company for 30 years may never reach the lofty goal of entering the 1% of earners.
No matter what you choose to major in, have a plan for your career and know why you are choosing to study what you will be studying. Money is important, but quality of life issues are also important, and so is doing work that you love.