Salary statistics reveal numbers, not motivation
The top 10 best college majors for earning potential, according to Kiplinger, a personal finance and business forecasting service, are all in the applied sciences or business fields.
While this may not surprise many people, the categorization of salary by major can be misleading.
Gina Aloe, assistant director of The Career Center, said the average or median pay is not the only factor to consider when thinking about a salary.
“Often, it is referred to as a ‘salary package’ and there are many factors to consider when exploring a career or job, such as health insurance, travel opportunities, the possibility of promotion, vacation time, job stability and more,” Aloe said.
In the Seton Hall Class of 2014 Career Outcomes, data compiled by the Career Center, the average starting salary for SHU nursing alumni is about $52,000. That is $5,000 lower than the median starting salary for nurses according to the report. For a SHU finance major, the average starting salary is $52,770, compared to Kiplinger’s report of a $50,900 starting median salary.
The subjects of this survey are alumni who graduated with degrees in the major. Starting median salaries are based on accounts of these alumni with zero to five years of experience, and median mid-career salaries are based on alumni with ten or more years of experience.
SHU’s Class of 2014 achieved an 86 percent employment rate in a career-related job, six months after graduation. The national average is 67 percent, based on preliminary data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The Career Center is currently collecting data for 2015 Career Outcomes statistics.
Money was definitely considered by some students when they chose their major at Seton Hall. Junior Prachi Makkar said she chose finance because the nature of the work is fast, challenging and interesting to her.
“I’m a finance major because although it is a lot of hard work, the payoff is great,” she said, referencing the money she expects to make from a career in finance.
Aloe said that it is important for students to explore themselves and their interests when pursuing a career path because salary is not the top priority for every student.
In a 2015 PayScale rank of majors by salary earning potential, the first exclusive Bachelor of Arts degree that Seton Hall offers is philosophy, ranked 75, with a median starting salary at $42,200 and a median mid-career salary of $85,000.
While a ranking of 75 may seem low, Vicente Medina, philosophy professor, cited a sense of fulfillment in something he enjoys, rather than money, as the reason he chose his career path after earning an undergraduate philosophy degree.
Medina defined success in his career as, “Being tenured in a reputable university with a solid philosophy program, like the one we have here at SHU, where one is able to enjoy a passion for teaching and research.”
Philosophy professor Dr. Mark Couch said, “I think it is a mistake for students to measure the value of a degree by its earning potential. It is true that people need jobs that pay the bills, and this should be considered (but) students should look for degrees that meet their financial needs but also lead to fulfilling work and lives. This means contributing to society in meaningful ways that can’t be measured financially.”
Like student Prachi Makkar, senior Ricardo Dasilva made his decision to choose philosophy based on money as well, but not for the same reason.
Emily Balan can be reached at email@example.com.