One critical decision any incoming college student will make is figuring out what they want to major in. Oftentimes, people choose a major they enjoy without considering whether it is one of the most useless degrees or a degree that lacks practical application after you graduate, making jobs harder to come by.
While earning a post-secondary degree is almost always a boost to your career goals, there are some useless majors or worthless degrees that could have no effect when it comes to setting you apart in a pool of applicants. Read on to learn about the most useless college degrees.
Is College Useless?
College is useless if you are looking to access information since information is readily available in various forms online, and learning it won’t require student debt or tuition fees.
If a college student does not have plans to pursue graduate or doctoral degrees, especially for most liberal arts degrees or a specific international studies degree, their diploma might be worthless. If your goals are to earn a high median starting salary or average income after graduation, it’s best to know what useless college degrees to avoid.
What Is the Most Useless Degree?
The most useless degree on our list is a tourism degree. This is because the salary expectations for careers in the field after graduation are low compared to the time and money spent acquiring the degree.
Deciding on what to put on this list entailed researching the median starting salary and median mid-career salary for some of the higher positions possible for some degree programs. We also look into each degree’s job outlook, which tells us about the unemployment rate or the expected growth in an industry in a given time frame.
They say that there are no useless college degrees, and what anyone will make of their degree after they graduate will determine if the pursuit was futile. Still, for some of us who have no luxury of waiting for what might come, it is essential to decide before anything else. Here is a list of the most useless degrees anyone can take in college.
The Most Useless College Degrees and Majors
- Theater Arts
- Criminal Justice
- Culinary Arts
Most Useless Majors, Explained
- Travel Agent Average Salary: $43,810
- Travel Agent Job Outlook: 5%
- Possible Tourism Degree Job: Travel Agent, Tour Guide, Hotel Front Desk Associate, Hotel Manager
One of the most useless college degrees is a tourism degree. Tourism students learn about the most beautiful places around the world and the best methods to get there. This may seem fun on paper, but many of them are grappling with where to find work after graduation.
For people who end up working in travel agencies or hotels, the average income isn’t that high. Salaries are heavily dependent on the company and most will not pay enough for standard insurance rates. Other than salary, the work hours are irregular and workplace treatment may not be satisfactory.
2. Theater Arts
- Actor Average Salary: $23.48 per hour
- Actor Job Outlook: 32%
- Possible Theater Arts Job: Actor, Classical Musicians, Musical Theater Performer, Set Designer
A theater arts degree is a dream of many wishing to be performers on stage and in film, or work behind the scenes in script writing or stage design. After graduation, actors will have to find internships and enroll in classes to further develop their skills, which can land them small roles while hoping for a big break.
Competition for roles is steep, and the chances are smaller for people who are not exceptional. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, theater arts majors who are employed earn less than the overall average of all salaries across all majors.
- Anthropologist Average Salary: $61,910
- Anthropologist Job Outlook: 7%
- Possible Anthropology Job: Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Social Scientist, Museum Curation, Researcher
A degree in anthropology is one of the most useless college degrees in social sciences. This humanities degree requires college graduates to study all the way to a doctoral degree to gain leverage over other graduates with an anthropology degree in the job market.
Graduates might think their days will be filled with discoveries and excavations once they’re done with school, but it could not be even further from the truth in most cases. All in all, the best they could expect is a career in the academe which is also few and far between.
- Translator Average Salary: $49,110
- Translator Job Outlook: 24%
- Possible Language Job: Translator, Interpreter, Tour Guide, English Language Teacher
While there is gratification in learning another language other than the English language, the question of what to do after graduating with a liberal arts language degree haunts language degree holders. Graduates with a strong portfolio have a chance to work in embassies, while most students will probably find job opportunities as translators or interpreters.
- Postsecondary Teacher Average Salary: $79,640
- Postsecondary Teacher Job Outlook: 12%
- Possible Philosophy Job: Primary and Secondary Educators, Lawyers, Clergy
After graduation, philosophy majors will find that this social sciences field is hard to break into without studying further for a doctoral degree or at least being graduate degree holders. This field of study is a highly specialized humanities degree and will require a more comprehensive education if philosophy majors want to get a hand at teaching or writing about philosophy.
If college graduates with philosophy degrees don’t plan to study further after graduation, philosophy is among some of the useless college degrees to have since the trajectory of the career options available is not extensive.
- Advertising Sales Agent Average Salary: $52,340
- Advertising Sales Agent Job Outlook: 3%
- Possible Advertising Job: Advertising Sales Agent, Illustrator, Copywriter, Digital Marketing
An advertising degree might be attractive to some because it will have practical applications outside school. Yet many graduates don’t realize that to break into a specific advertising industry, like sports marketing or ecommerce, they need to have a degree in one particular field.
Because of the specific topics graduates study during their college years, advertising majors have fewer options when it comes to job prospects. Not to mention that the median starting salary and the average income for advertising majors are also low, one of the lowest all in all, even if they did manage to get a job in the industry.
7. Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice Average Salary: $60,000
- Criminal Justice Job Outlook: 7%
- Possible Criminal Justice Job: Police Officer, Forensic Scientist, FBI Agent
The seventh most useless degree on our list is a degree in criminal justice. Television shows and movies about the wonders of this field of study have misled actual graduates of this course.
Many undergraduates who complete a degree in criminal justice will struggle to find work in the field without having a graduate degree. They will also need to gain further higher education in the field of study they choose to work in, such as pathology, for example, to become true experts.
8. Culinary Arts
- Chef Average Salary: $50,160
- Chef Job Outlook: 25%
- Possible Culinary Arts Job: Restaurant Cook, Chefs, Head Cooks
Among the most worthless degrees on our list is a culinary arts degree. The median starting salary is meager, making living after graduation a challenge. If someone truly wants to make it as a chef, looking into selective schools like culinary-specific schools is the way to go over getting a degree from a private university or a public college.
- Social Worker Average Salary: $50,390
- Social Worker Job Outlook: 12%
- Possible Psychology Job: Social Worker, Psychotherapist, Counselor, Human Resource Specialist
A degree in psychology is among the most useless degrees, especially if graduates are not looking to return to school after graduating. Without a doctoral or a graduate degree, finding a practical application and job in the field will be harder for undergraduates after college.
- Elementary School Teacher Average Salary: $61,350
- Elementary School Teacher Job Outlook: 7%
- Possible Education Job: Elementary School Teacher, Preschool Teacher, High School Teacher, Social Work, Education Administration
One of the more worthless degrees is an education degree. Teachers are not only overworked but also paid a lower median starting salary and even a median mid-career salary no matter how much work experience they have.
Typically teachers also need to be educated in the field in which they want to teach, such as early childhood, the English language, or special education. The need to study further is usually what renders certain college degrees useless.
What Makes a College Degree Worthless?
- Academic Inflation. Since more and more people are graduating from college, many jobs now require a master’s degree, which might not be a possible course for many.
- Debt. College graduates of some of the most useless degree majors have to worry about starting their careers earning below the average income while managing their student loan debt from university. Coupled with underemployment, unemployment, or making below the median starting salary, drowning in debt will lead to more problems.
- The Illusion of Security. Gone are the days when the key to a steady average income or a higher median starting salary was a college degree. Today, people who have earned a bachelor’s degree in any course, from a humanities degree to a business major can face unemployment after graduation.
People With Useless Degrees: What Do You Do Now?
For people with useless college degrees who are reading this and still in college, there are two ways to leave your degree behind for another.
How to Change Your Major
- Speak to an advisor. If you want to shift your English language humanities degree to a more useful one, speak to your general studies advisor first. They can be a neutral party that can help you decide and guide you throughout the transfer process.
- Do research. Look into other perspectives that will help you get the most out of your college education once you have graduated. Learn about the average income and median starting salary you can expect, and what soft skills you will gain that can help you transfer into other careers or industries.
How to Transfer Schools
- Plan your transfer. Planning a transfer will entail researching the best schools and prepping your college grades. Sometimes colleges also want to look at ACT or SAT scores.
- Prepare to transfer. Letters of recommendation are often needed for transferees. To get these, seek recommendation letters from your favorite professors. Also, be mindful of the deadlines set by your school of choice.
- Consider your finances. Asking about financial aid policies at the school you are looking to transfer to is also helpful since some schools offer fewer scholarship funds for transfer students.
Alternatives to College
Trade Schools and Vocational Education
Instead of earning some of the most useless degree majors, why not go to trade schools that will give you the valuable skills you need in the future, including types of skills like technical skills and communication skills?
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Trade schools offer programs that prepare you for the job force right after graduation. Trade schools are common in most cities and being a skilled trade worker is in demand in the job market today.
There are many jobs today that don’t require a college major or degree but require relevant experience from internships or apprenticeships. This is where you gain knowledge on technical skills instead of learning about them theoretically. Some professions that value apprenticeship experience are photography, carpentry, and masonry.
Online colleges, though still offering college degrees, allow you to study part-time and remotely. Having flexibility in your studies allows you to maintain personal commitments or other work commitments. An online college is a great option if you’re currently working in the field you desire, but want to become qualified for advancement.
To become entrepreneurs, people do not need to earn a business major or some of the most useless degree majors. If you want to create or have any invaluable skills you can make from, leverage them. You gain an average income and be your boss in the process.
Can You Get a Job With a Useless Degree?
Yes, you can get a job even with some of the most useless degree majors. However, the quality of the job you will be getting could be lower than you’d expect after formal education.
There is also a greater chance that you could be unemployed for some time before landing a job as competition may be high. In some careers, without further training in the role, workplace experience, or more advanced education, you could earn less than the average income for your degree if you have to settle for whatever job you can find.
Most Useless Degrees FAQ
Yes, a college degree can be useless when we factor in the debt one can incur, the importance of work experience, the range of alternatives available, and what options are available for the degree holder after graduation. A college degree is impressive, but in many cases, the careers you land after graduation don’t have a high enough income to make the debt incurred worth it.
Some of the worst college degrees for average income and unemployment rate are a degree in culinary arts, theater arts, advertising, and tourism. These are some majors with the lowest median starting salary and less work demand.
One thing you can do with a useless college degree is to earn work experience through internships if you want to remain in the field. You can also take an added vocational course if you want a total shift in the trajectory of your career.
For undecided students who want to choose a good major and not one that will be useless after graduation, consider what industry you’d like to work in. From there, consider the type of career you’d like to have, and research what its earning potential is and if there are opportunities for advancement. You should also find out if further education is required, such as earning a master’s degree. Having this solid understanding of your direction will help you choose a major.
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