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The Lowest Paying College Degrees and The Problem with Salary Statistics

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A study of college degrees by Payscale, Inc. revealed the 20 worst-paying college degrees. The top two involve children: child and family studies ($29,500 starting pay), and elementary education ($31,800 starting pay). Others include: social work, athletic trining, culinary arts, horticulture, paralegal stuides. theology, recreation, special education, deitetics, art, interior design, nutrition, graphic design, music, and art history.

Starting pay ranged from $29,500 up to $39,400. Mid-career pay reached $38,400 up to $57,100.

If you are considering careers in these fields, here is some hope:

Statistics deal with average people in average jobs. You don't have to be average, and you can create a non-traditional job in any of the above fields.

I know. I majored in Social Anthropology in college. How on earth can anyone earn an income in that field? Well, I happen to earn a great income. I turned my social anthropology degree into --  among other things -- a career understanding the culture of organizations and helping them to change their culture to create better performance. That's a lucrative field know as organizational development. At the same time, I learned to write and teach while studying anthropology, and also got to study small business in Kenya. That led to a career coaching businesses, and teaching others to become business coaches. Those types of career moves, and the income those moves can bring, don't usually show up in statistics.

For instance, if you study athletic training, you can be the standard $15 per hour trainer -- or you can make $75 to $150 per hour as some of my fitness trainer friends make. However, if all you did was look at the median starting pay in this field, you might never get into it. Of course, the highest paid have figured out how to start a business and market themselves as having unique knowledge and with the ability to get great results.

The moral: Don't worry about statistics so much. Think instead about non-traditional ways you can take what you know and use it to beat the pack.

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