College x
In an article about college degrees, an illustration of a college graduate in cap and gown
Illustration by Carmel Ada, American Academy of Art

Here are some options for when the more traditional routes just aren’t for you.

Many of us know about all the most common and lucrative college majors out there. Every college applicant is used to hearing about the jobs you can get with a degree in medicine, law, engineering or computer science. College majors like these are tried and true, and well known to provide the best bang for your buck when investing in your higher education.

Not only are these college majors prestigious and respected, but they can also put you on a fast track to making good money upon landing your first job post-graduation. However, if those fields don’t interest you, there are quite a few college majors out there that people don’t often hear about that can still lead to financially stable and emotionally fulfilling careers.

1. Information Management

A master’s degree in information management focuses on the intersection of business and technology. The degree explores ways to use different kinds of technology to analyze data and help businesses run more efficiently by improving various areas of their companies. A major in information management will typically focus on areas of study such as data management, data analytics, user experience, health informatics and web-based information services. Studying information management in college can prepare you for a number of jobs in the tech field including database development and data analysis. The salaries for jobs such as these vary depending on the job.

2. Data Science

A more specific, underrated tech field degree is data science. Data science applies analytics to let you discover valuable patterns in data in order to improve the business strategies of any company. Data science can go hand-in-hand with information management and the two will often intersect in a technological environment. A master’s degree in data science is typical for data scientists who earn higher salaries. The average salary range for a data scientist is between $122,000 and $151,000.

3. Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy seeks to help people of all ages improve physical and cognitive difficulties that interfere with everyday life. It is different from the more well-known practice of physical therapy, which focuses on single areas of discomfort or mobility in the body that can make certain tasks more difficult than usual. Alternatively, occupational therapy helps patients manage problems that affect their general independence. A master’s degree in occupational therapy is typically required to begin a career as an occupational therapist. The median salary for occupational therapists is around $93,000.

4. Communication Sciences and Disorders

College majors in therapeutic health care careers similar to occupational therapy may also include the field of communication sciences and disorders. The degree can prepare students for a career in either audiology or speech pathology. An audiologist assesses and manages hearing disorders as well as specializes in preventing and treating hearing loss. A speech pathologist is essentially a speech therapist — they are experts in verbal communication and speech and address any associated issues. A person in this field may find themselves treating children with speech impediments and/or delayed speech or adults who have lost the ability to verbally communicate due to a stroke or other medical issues. The average salary for an audiologist is $88,000 while the average salary for a speech pathologist is $87,000.

5. Applied Behavior Analysis

A speech pathologist might find themselves working with autistic children who have delays in speech. In these cases, the speech pathologist will often work alongside a behavior analyst to treat the child according to their individual needs. Behavior analysts have master’s degrees in applied behavior analysis, which is a field of study that focuses on improving certain behaviors that affect social life, academics, communication, fine motor skills and other areas that are necessary for everyday, efficient living. The average salary for a behavior analyst is $66,000.

6. Education

The teaching field has gotten a bad rap over the years for being low-paying and sometimes emotionally draining. It has been well-established that teachers do not get paid enough for what their job entails. Due to these concerns, many teachers have decided to leave the profession after spending time in the field and college students are often discouraged from choosing college majors in education. However, because of this, there has been an increased demand for teachers and in turn, the salary for teachers has been increasing. The current starting salary for a teacher is around $49,000 whereas a few years ago, it was around $30,000. Not only has there been a pay increase due to increasing demand, the job itself can be very fulfilling if helping to shape the youth for a better future is an issue that is important to you. Additionally, you do not need a master’s degree in order to begin your career as a teacher. 

7. English

This one might be surprising. Many people regard an English degree, along with other liberal arts degrees, as something that will make you very little money post-graduation. While the degree itself heavily focuses on literature and writing, that does not mean you need to be a creative writer if you are an English major. The reality is that an English degree can be useful in a few different fields. For example, a career in human resources is an option for English degree-holders due to the knack for analyzing complex information an English degree can provide. Positions in human resources have a salary range between $50,000 and $100,000 depending on the exact position and years of experience. Copywriting is also a great option; businesses are always looking for copywriters to publicly communicate vital information about their business for marketing and advertisement purposes. Copywriters make on average between about $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

It’s not necessary to study difficult college majors like medicine or law in order to live a fulfilled and financially comfortable life. If those fields of study interest someone, they should pursue them. If not, there are other options out there for people to make good money without exhausting themselves through college. The truth is that you can live a happy and comfortable life in a well-respected job while also studying something that actually interests you.

Writer Profile

Saba Bazzi

Wayne State University
English

Saba is a student and writer who is fueled by coffee and a desire for truth. She navigates the world with a sense of openness and values the power of conversation and written word.

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