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June 23, 2010


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In some cases I think that has to do with people who choose those fields being less interested in making high salaries. I know a social worker who makes 1/3 more than me (MBA); it is possible, it just takes a lot of effort.

So much for my Digital Media BA (

I find the "low" salaries of these jobs to be inflated.

I checked the yahoo article and found this gem: "Typical starting salaries are for graduates with two years of experience"

Since when does a starting salary for a college degree equate to two years of experience.

So what these are is people who were able to get a job in their chosen profession to begin with, have been in the profession for 2 years, gotten 2 years worth of raises, and not gotten fired or layed off.

So they aren't starting salaries, they are too high for that. They also don't represent average earnings for people with those degrees because some of them no doubt couldn't get a job in their chosen field of study. They also don't say if they are average or median but either way there are plenty of people in those fields make plenty less than that based on their skills and the area of the country they work in.

All in all, the picture is considerably worse for most people with these relatively poor degrees than is painted by this article.

Yay my major isn't on this list! :)

Apex- and I bet it only included people who are employed... I would guess unemployment rates in those degrees is higher than other degrees (higher demand=more money).

Definitely overinflated for starting salaries.

If these were recent graduates and had decided to teach in a private or parochial elementary school (you can teach w/out an Education degree as long as you have a Bachelor's degree and are 'working toward' your teacher's certificate), it's likely they would have to accept a part-time position at two different schools in order to pay the bills (i.e., in music, art, elementary education, spanish, theology). For example, an art teacher with no experience working one part-time teaching job would earn about $15,000/yr. here in the East Coast.

It doesn't help that diminished school funding is forcing out these very same subjects.

Is anyone surprised by the degrees on this list? I'm not.

FYI: Teach elementary school 30 years and you make north of $90,000. Then you have a pension that pays 2% for every year taught times average of highest 3 years. That's 60%! At 55 years old that's $54,000. Throw in the 403(b) and most teachers are in better shape and ready to retire than the "high earners" cited on the list.
I'm not even going to go into the summers off etc. part!
And you don't have to go to a big name school to become a teacher. They aren't looking for graduates of Yale!

Jim is 100% correct.

Unless you have some super-duper skill at one of these AND can sell it to business (or can work the political system - be one of those school admins making $300,000/yr!) you pretty much guarantee yourself a life just barely above poverty.

Sure you may enjoy the work. But that doesn't pay the bills. And in the end that's really all that matters.

@DIY - My wife has almost 20 years experience in teaching and hasn't cracked $50k yet. Where do teachers make $90+k??? Sorry but that doesn't sound right... also $300k for admins?? That sounds inflated... maybe they're working in bankrupt states like CA, NJ and NY...

BTW, if you want to make money follow the numbers and get accounting and engineering degrees. My engineering degree puts me in the 6 figure category. Not bragging here but just stating what's out there.

@ DIY:

This is true where I live mainly if you teach at a public school. Sadly, the schools here will cause you to give up teaching one year out of college! That's the reason many teachers decide to go the private school route, but make far less money.

Careers are not always about income and pay is not always about salary. I would bet that several of those jobs have great benefits for health, retirement, and PTO...especially those working for the state.

I'd be more interested in the their survey size and methodologies. When looking at the BLS ( the mean for a social worker was $46,192 while the median was $41,517. Now I'm sure the BLS numbers here encompasses all levels/degrees/years of experience. When you look at it broken down by level the lowest level listed was $17.33/hr or (

Note the above is only for state/local government employees. When looking at private company employees the wages were slightly lower but still higher than those posted by

Ultimately these jobs are not going to make you as rich as Bill Gates but they may not be as bad as they seem depending on how you manage you money and resources before/during/after college.

My wife is an elementary school teacher and is currently grossing $43k a year, only 2 years out of school. Thankfully, this tops the starting salaries on the list and beats out the mid-career salary for her category.

But she does it mostly for the love of doing it... not the money...

Besides, she gets about 2 months off during the summer. She can pull in another $2k~$3k working a part-time job during the summer. It looks gloomy, but her income alone beats out the currently poverty level for household income of 4. And we are in a position where, if I die, she can well cover our expenses.

No surprise from this list. Yet we never see the highest paying jobs with no degree required? I know many people with no college degree (or any college period) that make much more than these numbers.That would be an interesting article...

I was in the boat of having an okay degree (Marketing) but not really using it and starting out at $26,500 a year. Thankfully, I didn't have college debt (3 part-time jobs, scholarships, and a little help from my parents). I couldn't imagine trying to pay off $50,000 in college loans on top of the $70,000 mortgage on what I make...

Mr. BFS didn't use his degree either but went into teaching middle school at $41,000 a year. 4 years later and a masters degree later, he'll be a school librarian for $47,000 - $52,000 a year and is eligible for a 70% pension in 25 more years...I think that seems like a great way to go if you are good with kids and bureaucracy.

The salaries for teachers around me in PA is much higher, you can see for yourself. Select Bucks or Montgomery County and search

1st year teachers start around $44,000 with only a bachelors. I know an Art Teacher with a Masters in their 8th year making nearly $80,000

Some teachers in some cities with experience can make decent wages. But that is NOT the norm across the nation. There are obviously going to be variations across the nation mostly due to higher cost of living in some cities. And for every high wage teacher you can find, someone can probably find an engineer in the same city with less experience making 50-100% more than that teacher or even a trash collector making more including his overtime. Any wage is relative to the local economy. Its mainly a cost of living adjustment type of thing and/or certain rare school districts over paying.

Teachers here max out at $72k but only with >15 years experience and graduate level education. I'm in a county with median income about equal to national average & higher than average cost of living.

EE2000 points out that teachers in Montgomery & Bucks county make a lot. Montgomery & Bucks county are in the top 2-3% wealthiest counties in the nation.

@ Jim:
Exactly. My father is retired and lives in "Big Bucks" County, and complains when they raise their already-high taxes. But then, he also gets a nice break on state income tax re: retirement and pension distributions and SS payments. SO he should probably quit complaining!

Didn't realize my local counties were so wealthy. Maybe someone should tell the teachers how good they have it. We had teacher strikes at a few different school districts this past year because they didn't feel their raises were competitive.

So, how many people have the degree but do something totally different? I have a degree in advertising, but worked in insurance before staying home when I had kids. Hubby has a degree (BA) in psychology, which is probably about the equivalent of that social worker degree. He is in IT and has never done anything in the psychology field. My brother is probably more knowledgeable in some IT areas than my husband, but he cannot get a decent job in IT because he has no degree. So, is any degree better than no degree?

My SIL in Mass is a 1st grade teacher with about 10 years experience. Makes over $75k and complains. She's hardly ever gone from her house outside of 8am-4pm and of course has all the holidays and the summer.

To look at this list, every one of these occupations is a labor of love with pay. People in these professions are not in it for the money. However, like the author states, one should NOT go into debt to get one of these degrees. I prefer not going into debt at all for ANY degree, but it's a lot easier to pay back when you're making $75-100k vs. $33-35k per year.

I have a MSW & i can tell you first hand that the novelty of helping others wears off when you can't afford to exists because the pay is so low. After 10 years of experience when you try to look for employment that pays more you are offered less (made $19/hr & now offered $14/hr). Now that makes real sense. What gets even better is the 20 cent yearly raises & being told that they only pay a bachelor level salary. Way to be cheap. I tell others now you really have to evaluate what you go into. I feel bad for the men trying to support families on a social work salary & the people with student loans. Very sad. Cant pay loans/ support yourself on good deeds.

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