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| 1 minute read

Education Majors Among Lowest-Paid Jobs

A recent analysis of the lowest-paying college majors found that education majors, including early childhood education majors, are in the worst-paying jobs five years after graduation. The list includes perennial low-paying fields such as performing arts or general liberal arts, along with elementary education and early childhood education.

State-paid jobs, which include most teaching jobs, until recently have paid less than comparable jobs in the private sector. The analysis for elementary education majors does not include the value of benefits such as tuition assistance, sabbaticals, and pensions. Part of the problem also may be that state and local governments have a virtual monopoly on teaching jobs, creating few incentives for higher salaries.

Early education majors, by contrast, have more options in the private sector. However, early childhood education tends to be a low margin business, because few parents, even with government subsidies, can afford high tuition costs for childcare. In this instance, public school Pre-K positions, for example, offer more money, particularly when teachers factor in the benefits, school holidays, and retirement plans.

There are no clear solutions in this situation. Government subsidies may help in the short run, but they aren't sustainable because that money has to come from taxpayers. In the interim, we will continue to grapple with the need for qualified teachers.

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Education majors tend to be paid less, as well. While teachers have good job security, summers off and pensions, they’re usually paid by state governments, which have lagged in keeping wages commensurate with inflation. In recent years, the “teacher pay penalty” has gotten worse, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Unfortunately for teachers, they don’t fare much better later in their careers. When looking at “mid-career” graduates — those ages 35 to 45 — education majors are the worst paid among all majors.


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