African-American Pharmacy Majors Have Highest Median Earnings


Although only 6% of African-Americans select pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences as a major, these students have the highest median annual earnings among African-Americans with bachelor's degrees.

Although only 6% of African-Americans select pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences as a major, these students have the highest median annual earnings among African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees.

One of the key takeaways from the 2016 “African Americans: College Majors and Earnings” report was that African-Americans are overrepresented in majors that lead to low-paying jobs. However, those who chose pharmacy saw the highest median annual earnings, at around $84,000.

African-Americans comprise 12% of the country’s population, but they are not seeking out college majors that lead to high-paying or fast-growing jobs, according to the report’s study authors.

Instead, African-Americans are more likely to choose a major associated with serving the community, such as social work or human services and community organization.

“Most of the majors on the list of lowest median earnings for African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees tend to be part of ‘intellectual and caring professions’—that is, highly-educated workers whose earnings tend not to reflect their years of higher education,” the report authors wrote.

In addition, African-Americans represent only 8% of general engineering majors, 7% of math majors, and 5% of computer engineering majors.

In terms of business, African-Americans represent 7% of finance and marketing majors.

Although there aren’t many African-Americans represented in pharmacy, these students are more likely to choose another health major: health and medical administrative services (21%).

Another finding from the report was that the percentage of African-Americans in industrial and manufacturing engineering or miscellaneous engineering technologies majors dropped by 4 and 3 percentage points since 2009, respectively.

These findings may be useful to African-American students who are unsure about what to major in. If these students are leaning toward a career in health care, for instance, they may want to consider majoring in pharmacy or nursing, rather than health and medical administrative services.

The top majors for African-Americans that produced high median annual earnings were as follows:

· Pharmacy: $84,000

· Industrial and manufacturing engineering: $76,000

· Chemical engineering: $73,000

· Electrical engineering: $72,000

· Mechanical engineering: $72,000

· Computer engineering: $69,000

· Civil engineering: $68,000

· Nursing: $66,000

· General engineering: $66,000

· Computer science: $65,000

On the other hand, the majors that led to the lowest median annual earnings for African-Americans were as follows:

· Early childhood education: $38,000

· Human services and community organization: $39,000

· Area, ethnic, and civilization studies: $39,000

· Family and consumer sciences: $40,000

· Drama and theater arts: $40,000

· Industrial arts and consumer services: $40,000

· Social work: $41,000

· Physical fitness, parks, recreation, and leisure: $41,000

· Theology and religious vocations: $41,000

· Philosophy and religious studies: $42,0000

These figures were derived from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce’s analysis of US Census Bureau microdata.

“African-Americans who choose majors in well-paying, growing fields are likely to be better positioned to get higher paying jobs, acquire less student debt, and nurture future generations,” the report stated. “This is especially important to a demographic group that historically has been deprived of opportunities and had fewer economic assets and resources making them especially vulnerable to the family stress created by economic ups and downs.”

The report also suggested that fewer African-Americans in high-paying jobs could produce fewer positive role models for financial stability.

Choosing a major that leads to a high-paying or fast-growing job can help African-Americans avoid debt and unemployment, as well.

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