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7 Most Underemployed Majors

7 Most Underemployed Majors

By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer

Many college grads with four-year degrees face underemployment after graduation as they find that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee a job in their chosen field. If they don’t have plans to go on to graduate school, they may have to settle for jobs that don’t match their education or training.

Payscale recently looked into which college majors struggle most with underemployment.

No. 7: Psychology


Psychology majors often end up in human resources positions, teaching or at coffee shops. While a background in psychology can certainly be helpful in those positions, it may not be exactly what the graduates were looking for. Psychology majors who want to lecture at universities, do research or go into private practice need to pursue additional education.

No. 6: History

A bachelor-level degree in history isn’t likely to get a college grad into a dream job of lecturing on the subject or spending time researching it. Instead, history grads may end up in operations management or as paralegals. If you’re a history major hoping to get into academia, you’ll likely need a higher degree or two.

No. 5: Liberal Arts

This catchall degree is meant to produce a well-rounded individual who can easily learn about a wide variety of topics. However, hiring managers might see a liberal arts grad as someone who can’t make a decision. If you’re a liberal arts grad, make it clear that you’ll specialize soon; otherwise, your employer might make a decision about your future for you by hiring you as an administrative assistant, office manager or paralegal.

No. 4: Anthropology

College students who major in anthropology may have dreams about traveling the globe to study cultural practices or research lost civilizations. However, Payscale found these grads are more likely to be working as office managers or in customer service than traveling overseas.

No. 3 (tie): Drama and Theater Arts

Turns out that would-be actors don’t necessarily wait tables as they work for their big break -- they end up as executive assistants, administrative assistants and customer service representatives. The skills they learned as drama majors -- thinking on their feet, for example -- can come in handy in these positions, however.

No. 3 (tie): Criminal Justice

Criminal justice majors buck the trend on this list in that they are more likely to get jobs in their field. However, these positions are still considered underemployment, because in many cases, you don’t need a four-year degree to get the job. Criminal justice majors often take positions as police officers, paralegals and security guards.

No. 1: Business Administration and Management

A BBA -- bachelor’s degree in business administration -- isn’t going to get you nearly as far as an MBA will. People with a four-year degree in business administration are most likely to be underemployed in Payscale’s list. While the bachelor’s degree is often simply a step into grad school, people trying to get a job on the four-year degree end up as credit or collections managers, retail assistant managers or as wait staff.

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