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Report: Blacks Choose Low-Paying Majors

African Americans are graduating from college at a historically higher rate, but according to new research, they are choosing majors at the low end of the pay scale.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that Blacks are over-represented in service fields, such as education and social work. Early childhood education has a median income of about $38,000 a year. It’s one of the most common majors for Black students with a bachelor’s degree.

Data of those earning degrees in the highest-paying majors reveal that Blacks comprise just 8 percent of engineers and 5 percent of computer science majors, who earn a median salary of $65,000.

Key findings of the report revealed that:

  • Twenty percent of African Americans majored in human services and community organization, which has the second-lowest median earnings at $39,000.
  • African Americans represent 7 percent of Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) majors.
  • The highest paying detailed major among African Americans is pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences and administration with median earnings at $84,000.
  • Architecture and engineering is the major group with the highest median earnings ($66,206) for African Americans with a Bachelor’s degree.

The decision to enter a lower-paying field is often the result of Blacks having a strong sense of community, according to the report’s authors. The lower-paying career fields are often associated with improving conditions in poor communities.

While Blacks represent just 12 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 20 percent of all community organizers.

Click here for the full report.