Overcoming a Degree
with Poor Income Potential

See also: Transferable Skills

It doesn’t take an English major to recognize the tragedy in studying for years and then finding a degree earns very little.  But, being open to alternatives and using the help of professional services can overcome the dangers of having a degree with small income potential.


Pre-school teachers and childcare workers alike are often discouraged to find that loving little ones also earns little dollars.

Therefore, if you’re studying for such placement, be prepared to either supplement your income or specialize in a particular area.

Those who specialize in counselling, reading, or other distinct areas may take longer to complete their studies, but will usually end up on better pay in the long run.  Childcare is one of those degrees that does not sustain workers through passion alone.

Social Work

Like childcare, social work requires a special person to help others make their lives better.

Yet, the industry pays poorly and is increasingly associated with high employee stress. Society needs good people dedicated to social causes, but often these workers need to consider other ways to make ends meet.


Learning about Socrates and Plato may not translate into a lot of dollars and cents.

Philosophy majors are ‘thinkers’ who can apply their brain power to industry rather than theory.

Unless you’re on track to become a professor at a prestigious university, settling on a philosophy degree isn’t very logical. Philosophy graduates often find that they need to combine their degree with other studies to improve their employability outside an academic setting.


Psychology students are amazed by the wonders of the human mind and the lack of available jobs upon graduation.

Unfortunately, many with psychology degrees settle for social work or need to get into another industry with jobs in the market. Gaining clientele requires developing a good reputation, so getting a good start in this career is often difficult.

Psychiatrists and private-practicing doctors make the big-time bucks but this path requires more study and further qualifications.  If you’re not moving on to grad school, your degree is better used in a business setting, so look at combining your degree with an appropriate major.

Secondary Education

About a decade ago, there was a high need to fulfil positions but, in recent years, teachers were let go due to cutbacks.

Depending on local legislation and population, there may be a scarcity or limited number of positions to fill for middle and high school teachers.

Teachers can focus on further developing a skill (technical writer) or using their classroom management skills in the business world (mid-level manager) rather than hoping to make a good living or find a position teaching.


The digital world impacted print, causing huge cutbacks and leaving many writers and journalists without jobs.

In addition to the small pay, there are not a lot of present positions open for those with journalism degrees.

Newspaper positions are dwindling or reserved for senior members and companies are finding that those with limited experience can use social media and methods of online advertising to draw reader and consumer attention.  Those with superior communication skills can try their hand in sales, where they can earn more money.

Art History

The past and current world is filled with art and one can spend their entire life learning about the differences of periods and individual artists.

However, art history majors can’t spare seconds after graduating when thinking about how they’ll make money.

Museum positions are limited and becoming a teacher or academic requires further study.  One’s fascination with the past may be better used in an industry like insurance or taxation rather than in one involving ancient battles and paintings.

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.

You can be rich in mind but poor in pocket holding the above degrees, but professional services and pivots involving applicable skills can overcome the post-graduation money blues.

About the Author

Rebecca Street has worked for many years as a job specialist. When she's not counselling someone at her desk, she's sharing what she has learned by blogging online. You can read her articles on career, job and education websites.