Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guess which Major has the worst Return on Investment

Ok, so I do a post on Broadcast News salaries, and then one on rising student debt.  Wouldn't you know that right after, I'd run across a link to "8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment."  So I wander over to the site with more than a little fear and trepidation.  And guess who comes in at #1: Communications.

  Here's what they had to say -
You'd think the ink-stained newsrooms and TV studios are full of wealthy and famous journalists. Not quite. Although these skills require lots of education and training, they buried the lead regarding the lack of payoff.
Return on Investment (ROI) is a standard measure of how much an investment (say, in your college education) will generate from increased earnings in the future.  The folks at calculated costs based on averages in a recent College Board study for a four-year liberal arts degree at a public institution ($37,343) and at a private college ($121,930).  Returns were based on median salaries for a set of "typical jobs" requiring that degree, assuming a 30 year career with average salary boosts covering inflation and productivity increases (i.e. improved skills coming from experience).  The three jobs they listed for communication are
  • News Reporter -  Median salary: $37,393; 30-year earnings: $2,205, 438; ROI if Public College: 58%;  ROI if Private College: 17%.
  • Copywriter (our upstairs neighbors in Ad/PR) -  Median salary: $52, 549; 30-year Earnings: $3,099,338; ROI if Public College: 82%; ROI if Private College: 24%
  • Marketing Coordinator (our downstairs neighbors in Comm Studies) -  Median salary: $50.455; 30-year earnings: $2,975,834; ROI if Public College: 79%; ROI if Private College: 23%.
So who did we "beat" to earn the top spot? Retail/Tourism, Nutrition, Religious Studies, Fine Arts, Sociology, Psychology, and Education.

One might ask, then, what degrees provide the best ROI?  Math, Information Technology, Human Resources, Economics, Biology, Engineering, Marketing, English (writing).  All have their "typical" jobs with ROI for Public College over 100%; some over 225%.
  I will note that some of the jobs considered in this set of majors (PR manager in Marketing, Communication Manager and Web Content Manager in English) are also typical jobs for people with communication degrees. 
  • Public Relations Manager - Median salary: $86,127; 30-year earnings: $5,079,767; ROI if Public College: 135%; ROI if Private College: 41%
  • Communications Manager - Median salary: $88,498; 30-year earnings: $5,219,609; ROI if Public College: 139%; ROI if Private College: 42%
  • Content Manager - Web - Median salary: $79, 674; 30-year earnings: $4,699,170; ROI if Public College: 125%; ROI if Private College: 38%
So perhaps it's not quite as bad a major as this study makes it out to be.

And we all do this stuff because we love what we do anyway.

Sources - 8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment.
8 Degrees That Will Earn Your Money Back,

Revised to add specifics for PR Manager, Communications Manager, and Web Content Manager (11/30/2012)

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