Indeed, data from Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies show that young adults with degrees in engineering, math, and computer science are far more likely to get professional jobs that require college degrees than those with other majors.
About 80 percent of such “technical” degree holders have college-level professional jobs, compared to just 59 percent of those with degrees in the humanities, according to the Northeastern center.
To put in another way, more than 40 percent of recent humanities graduates are working as bartenders, retail sales associates, and at other jobs that don’t require college degrees — double the share of those with technical majors.
And not only are degree holders with very specific types of skills more likely to find jobs, they’re also more likely to land jobs that pay more higher paying jobs as well.
Maria Stein, director of career services at Northeastern University, said a typical computer science grad in the Boston or Silicon Valley areas can command about $80,000 — or more — for a job, while electrical and mechanical engineering grads are getting offers starting in the $55,000 to $60,000 range.
But those with classic liberal arts degrees, such as history, English, and political science, often don’t make even half of what computer-science majors command right out of college — assuming they can even find a professional position within their chosen fields, according to labor economists.
One nontechnical major that’s recently seen signs of improvement in terms of employment prospects is business administration, as long as the degree includes very specific concentrations, such as accounting, finance, and digital marketing, according to labor market specialists.
Chris Wolfel, 23, graduates from Northeastern this week with a business administration degree with concentrations in entrepreneurship and marketing. Through Northeastern’s cooperative education program, which places students in semester-long jobs in their fields, Wolfel worked at number of Boston-area tech firms over the past four years, gaining valuable experience and contacts along the way.
Recently, Wolfel applied for and got a sales job at Yesware Inc., a venture-backed Boston firm that develops e-mail tools for sales people.
“Part of me was nervous about where I would land,” said Wolfel, a native of Plainville, Conn. “But the start-up scene in Boston is very strong and there’s more opportunities now with young tech companies.”