College Majors that Report the Highest Underemployment

If you feel uncertain about your career path, you might consider steering clear of these majors.

Jon Miltimore | May 9, 2017

If you feel uncertain about your career path, you might consider steering clear of these majors.

Forbes recently ran an interesting article that analyzed college degree programs and underemployment.

The article was based on a survey released by PayScale, which collected data from nearly one million workers between March 2014 and March 2016. Here are the 12 majors that reported the highest rates of underemployment (a situation in which someone is working, but not in a desired full-time capacity).

1. Physical Education Teaching

Underemployed: 56.4%

2. Human Services

Underemployed: 55.6%

3. Illustration

Underemployed: 54.7%

4. Criminal Justice

Underemployed: 53.0%

5. Project Management

Underemployed: 52.8%

6. Radio/Television & Film Production

Underemployed: 52.6%

7. Studio Art

Underemployed: 52.0%

8. Health Care Administration

Underemployed: 51.8%

9. Education

Underemployed: 51.8%

10. Human Development & Family Studies

Underemployed: 51.5%

11. Creative Writing

Underemployed: 51.1%

12. Animal Science

Underemployed: 51.1%


I found this information helpful in a few ways. For starters, these underemployment rates are startlingly high, much higher than I would have guessed.

Second, several of these majors seem a bit vague and abstract. Project management and human development sound like utilitarian degree programs and they might be fine careers. But if students select these majors and fail to receive specialization, they are no better off than the creative writing major (in fact, they might be worse off) who likely knew that their degree wouldn't be all that competitive.

Last, I was surprised to see education and criminal justice on this list. It doesn’t seem too long ago that these fields were in much higher demand. It goes to show how fluid job fields truly are.