Written by Alyssa Walker

Study all the poetry, novels, plays, and rejoice in reading and writing! Because a new study claims English majors are less underemployed than business majors.

Burning Glass Technologies, an analytics software company, recently conducted a study which shows English majors and other liberal arts students are more likely to find a good job than their counterparts in occupational majors like business or technology. 

Although unemployment is at a mere 3.7 percent, underemployment -- when a college graduate can't find a job which requires a degree -- is a bigger issue facing those which bachelor's degrees. 

According to Burning Glass, 43 percent of college graduates are underemployed. They explain a college degree "only pays off if graduates find college-level jobs." It adds, "In recent years, far too many students find that they are not able to put their degree to work in the labor market, with a troubling impact on their earning potential."

The report found that English majors have a 29 percent likelihood of underemployment post-graduation, compared to 31 percent of business majors. The major with the lowest likelihood of underemployment is engineering at 18 percent. At a 50 percent underemployment rate, majors in homeland security, law enforcement, and related protective services faced the biggest challenge.

The researchers found that while some majors, like business, prepare graduates for specific fields, they do little to make them "job ready". This means they sometimes lack the communication, critical thinking, and writing skills possessed by other graduates, such as those with English and other humanities degrees.

Researchers said, "What students study at college often signals to employers the skills they have and the qualities they bring to a job. Majors can help put students on the pathway to a long-term career, or they can dead-end them in underemployment."


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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