State Online College Job Market: Ranking the States analyzes the online college labor market on a state-by-state basis. We examine the geographic distribution of online job ads for college graduates within industries and occupational clusters, and compare the relative strength of the online college labor market across states. We estimate that between 60 and 70 percent of job openings are now advertised online, and that the online job market continues to grow each year. Nearly 4 million unique job advertisements are posted online each quarter.

Key Findings

In our report, we find that top-paying college majors earn $3.4 million more than the lowest-paying majors over a lifetime.

Two of the top highest paying majors, STEM and Business are also the most popular majors, accounting for 46 percent of college graduates.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), health, and business majors are the highest paying, leading to average annual wages of $37,000 or more at the entry level and an average of $65,000 or more annually over the course of a recipient’s career.

The 10 majors with the lowest median earnings are: early childhood education ($39,000); human services and community organization ($41,000); studio arts, social work, teacher education, and visual and performing arts ($42,000); theology and religious vocations, and elementary education ($43,000); drama and theater arts and family and community service ($45,000).

Explore the Data

The interactive web tool below allows the user to see how much college graduates earn by 15 major groups and 137 detailed major subgroups nationally and within states. State data is available only on the interactive tool below. We found that among college graduates with the same majors, earnings vary by state. For example, business is the most common major, accounting for 26 percent of college graduates. But business majors’ earnings vary across states. In California, business majors earn $70,000 annually on average; in Illinois and New York, they earn $67,000; in Texas, they earn $65,000; and in Florida, they earn $54,000.

We invite you to navigate our tool to find the economic value of your major, then share it with your friends!


Watch the Video

In this video’s Q&A — Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale, the center director and the report’s lead author, and Laura Barbier Vieira, the center communications associate, talk about the difference in majors’ earnings and the factors a student should consider when choosing a major. In the video Dr. Carnevale provides advice and highlights key factors from the report. Laura is worried picking a History major may lead to low earnings but Tony assures her, that is not the case. Watch the video to learn how History majors can earn more than the average business major and much more!


Full Report

The importance of a major is powerful. So much that Bachelor’s degree holders in some majors can earn more than those with a graduate degree. We found that the highest-paid majors were among the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, and the lowest earning majors were with early childhood education and human services and community organization. The full report includes a more detailed analysis of the popularity of majors and educational and labor market outcomes by major.

Download the Report

Executive Summary

When it comes to earnings, choosing a major matters more than getting the degree. And even though some majors lead to low earnings at entry level, we find in this report that work experience improves earnings in any college major. The executive summary highlights how much college graduates earn by major at the entry-level (ages 21-24) and mid-career (ages 25-59), the most popular majors, the majors most likely to lead to a graduate degree, and the majors for which a graduate degree provides the largest benefit. Check out the major highlights of the executive summary below.