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American Community Survey Briefs 
U.S. Department o Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration
Field of Degree and Earnings by SelectedEmployment Characteristics: 2011
This brie provides inormation about the ield ormajor o bachelor’s degrees, earnings, and selectedemployment characteristics or the population aged25 and over with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Dataon ield o bachelor’s degree was irst collected inthe American Community Survey (ACS) in 2009.Respondents who reported that their highest degreecompleted was a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree,proessional degree, or doctorate degree were asked towrite in the speciic major(s) o their bachelor’s degree.Respondents with more than one bachelor’s degree, orwith more than one major ield, were allowed to reportmultiple ields o degree. This brie examines only theirst ield o degree reported. Identiication o the ieldo degree was collected only or the bachelor’s degree.
Detailed Field of Degree and Work Status
There were 59 million people 25 years and olderwho held a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2011(Table 1). Business continued to be a popular major,with 12 million people who majored in this ield. Peo-ple who majored in business were also among thosewho were most likely to be employed ull-time, year-round (64.1 percent). Education was the second mostpopular major at 8 million, but education majors werethe least likely to be employed ull-time, year-round(41.0 percent).
Full-time, year-round is dened as working 50 to 52 weeks peryear and 35 hours or more per week. Thereore, teachers who did notwork during the summer months would not be considered ull-time,year-round.
In addition to business, people who majored in ascience and engineering ield also tended to have highpercentages who were employed ull-time, year-round.People who majored in computers, mathematics, andstatistics, or majored in engineering were the mostlikely to report working ull-time, year-round andamong the least likely to report that they did not workat all.
In contrast, most ields that were classiied asarts, humanities, or other had lower rates o ull-time,year-round employment. Less than hal o those whomajored in literature and languages (46.0 percent)or visual and perorming arts (48.3 percent) wereemployed ull-time, year-round.
Detailed Field of Degree, Earnings, and Classof Worker
Table 1 also shows that median annual earnings variedby ield o degree and class o worker or those whowere employed ull-time, year-round. Class o worker isdeined according to the type o employment organiza-tion o the respondent or whether the respondent wassel-employed. Private sector includes both privateor-proit and private not-or-proit employment. Gov-ernment includes local, state, and ederal governmentemployment. Sel-employed is deined as employmentin one’s own business, proessional practice, or arm.
The percentage o people who majored in computers, mathemat-ics, and statistics and were employed ull-time, year-round was statisti-cally diferent rom the percentage o people who majored in engineer-ing and were employed ull-time, year-round. The percentage o peoplewho majored in computers, mathematics, and statistics and did notwork at all was not statistically diferent rom the percentage o peoplewho majored in multidisciplinary studies and did not work at all. Thepercentage o people who majored in engineering and did not work atall was not statistically diferent rom those who majored in social sci-ences or visual and perorming arts and did not work at all.
Issued October 2012
By Camille Ryan
U.S. Census Bureau
3People who majored in engineer-ing had the highest earnings at$92,000 per year. They were alsothe most likely to be employed inthe private sector (78.6 percent).Majors with the lowest overallmedian annual earnings, about$55,000 or less per year, includedsuch ields as visual and perorm-ing arts, communications, educa-tion, and psychology.
 The ields o degree associatedwith the highest median earningsor women were the same as thoseor men, with median earnings o 
The median earnings or communicationmajors were not statistically diferent thanthe median earnings or psychology majorsor multidisciplinary majors. Also, the medianearnings o those who majored in psychologywere not statistically diferent than those whomajored in multidisciplinary studies.
engineering majors being highestor both. However, women earnedless than men or every ieldo degree.Earnings tended to be higher orall ields o degree among thosewho worked in the private sectorcompared with earnings o thosewho worked in government.
Oneexception was earnings or thosewho majored in education. Full-time, year-round government work-ers who held bachelor’s degrees inthis ield earned $52,000 per year,compared with $47,000 per yearamong those who worked in the
Median earnings or private sectorworkers compared with government workerswere not statistically diferent or those whomajored in multidisciplinary studies, literatureand languages, and communications.
private sector. Education majorswere also the most likely to work ingovernment o all ields o degree.More than hal o all people whomajored in education (55.8 percent)were government employees. Thisis not surprising given that publicschool teachers are classiied asgovernment employees.
Broad Field of Degree,Earnings, and Self-Employment
Figure 1 highlights dierences inearnings by broad ield o degreeor wage and salary workers versuspeople who were sel-employed.It also shows dierences or thesetwo groups between those whosehighest degree was a bachelor’sdegree and those who went on toearn an advanced degree, such as
Figure 1.
Median Annual Earnings by Field of Bachelor’s Degree by Class of Workerand Educational Attainment: 2011
(Population 25 years and over, full-time workers. For informationon confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error,and definitions, see
)Note: For more information about the margins of error for this figure, see Appendix Table 2 at the end of this report.Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey.$72,000$62,000$81,000$84,000$38,000$58,000$51,000$46,000$65,000$51,000$44,000$60,000$64,000$81,000$53,000$89,000$96,000$101,000$66,000$52,000
Wage and salary workers, advanced degreeSelf-employed workers, advanced degreeWage and salary workers, bachelor's degreeSelf-employed workers, bachelor's degreeArts, humanities,and otherEducationBusinessScience andengineering-relatedScience andengineering

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