As postsecondary education and training has become the most well-traveled pathway to middle class earnings, students, their families, and educators need to learn five rules of the college and career game. And sometimes those rules are contradictory.

Key Findings

More education is usually better.

Less education can be worth more.

Majors matter more.

Majors are important, but they do not control one’s destiny.

College Major Earnings Tool

Find out how much your college major is worth using this interactive tool. Explore national median earnings by undergraduate and graduate major as well as by state. You can also find lifetime earnings by major.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey micro data, 2009-2016, based on full-time, full-year workers age 25-59. Percents may not sum to 100 because small sample sizes were excluded.
This is the major field of study when respondents were undergraduates. However, this is not necessarily the same field of study as their advanced degree. A worker with a graduate degree might have been an engineering major as an undergraduate but received an graduate degree in business. In this case, the undergraduate major of engineering is recorded and reported here.


Watch this video to learn more about the five rules of the college and career game.

Full Report

Five Rules of the College and Career Game shows that more education is usually better, but majors matter more. College is less about the institution name and more about the field of study.