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    People Who Studied "Useless" Majors Are Sharing What They Do Now, And It's Really A Mixed Bag

    "I got a master’s in theater arts. My entire family thought it was stupid, and said I was wasting my time and money. After college, they joked how I was going to work at Walmart because my degree wouldn’t get me in a 'real job.' Now, I live in NYC, landed a job at Broadway, and make more than my brother does with his business degree."

    We recently asked the members of the BuzzFeed Community who studied college majors people typically think are "useless" to tell us what they do now for work. Some people shared why they're proud of the major they chose and how it led them to their dream job today — while others shared mixed feelings or regrets about their decision. Either way, they have tons of helpful advice, and TBH, sooo many of their stories led to unexpected and interesting careers.

    Here are some of the most eye-opening responses:

    1. "I went to two culinary schools. I loved to cook, so I thought I would turn it into a job. Worst decision ever! Working in the restaurant industry, you have no life and make no money. It was so hard on my body, and I was always working. I couldn't get any job at any nice place."

    "It was the Cracker Barrel or a crappy BBQ joint you'd get food poisoning from. I always had to work two jobs. The most I made was $36K a year. After being in the industry for eight years, I left. I went back to go school (twice, actually, wasting more time and money), but now I'm a travel nurse. I made $108K last year and that's with taking off three months. So worth it. I have a house, a car, a wonderful husband, I travel, and we do whatever we want. I just wish I found this life sooner."

    —31, Maryland

    2. "I majored in creative writing and was constantly told that I wouldn’t find work as a writer. Throughout my twenties, people would ask what I majored in during college, then immediately follow with 'I bet that’s not what you do now!' Except it was. I found a job as a magazine contributor immediately after college and worked as a writer for years before transitioning into editing."

    "Eventually, I moved into a management role overseeing a team of writers and editors, and today I make six-figures and love my career in the writing world."

    —32, USA

    3. "I majored in theater and acting. I knew very early on if I wanted to work in theater, I would need to learn as much I could about all aspects of theater in order to stay working in it. I can proudly say every penny I've made working since I graduated from college has been in theater and the arts."

    "I worked my butt off, but always chose theater over anything else, including a lucrative bank job that would have let me live in NYC like a king. I am currently a college professor teaching theater on only a bachelor's degree because of my professional career."

    —41, Florida

    4. "I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the only public art school in the US, and I have been working as an apparel designer for a national specialty retail brand for the past six years. I have no regrets! Fashion design isn’t just about starting your own brand, and there is so much you can utilize an art degree for other than just creating and selling your art!"

    "I encourage anyone who is interested to pursue an art degree. You’ll learn so much in school and make so many connections, it can open a lot of doors."

    victorialeighb93

    5. "I went to undergraduate for criminal justice then shifting to a combination of criminal justice and psychology. I didn't get into law school, so I went to graduate school for forensic mental health. While the degree sounds cool, there isn't much you can do with it that makes it fully applicable. Most high-level mental health related positions within police forces either demand tons of experience or are occupied by people who never leave."

    "I now work overnights stocking shelves at Target. It's ruining my sleep and overall health."

    —22, New York

    6. "Undergrad major was B.A. in geography. I was utterly undecided about what I wanted to do with my life after high school, but went to college anyway. Decided on Geography because it was a small department and had a multidisciplinary perspective. After traveling to Europe and North Africa for a couple of years, then opening a restaurant on a whim and working there for four years, and then going with a friend as an over-the-road truck driver for six months I decided to go back to school for civil engineering. Fate, however, had other ideas for me."

    "The engineering adviser thought I'd make a better doctor than engineer, so I went to medical school. Love being a physician. So rewarding, interesting, and challenging. Glad I was open to the opportunities the world presented to me."

    —50, USA

    7. "My major was public administration. After a long argument with my father, who advised that changing my major from business administration was a mistake and he wouldn't pay for me to go to school and 'waste' my time on such a major, I told him to keep his money and changed my major."

    "Well, I have had a successful 29-year career with the Federal Government, working for seven years as a special agent with the FBI — and now over 15 years with Department of Defense as a Counterintelligence and Security Specialist. Oh, and I make more than my siblings, who both graduated with business degrees. Smack!"

    — 61, Virginia

    8. "Went to a fancy (read: expensive) four-year film school. I now work in the field doing what I dreamed of, but I still consider it a waste of time and money. Hear me out: Most people I work with didn't study film in college or go to well-known film schools. Plus, 99% of what I know, I learned on the job. No one gives a crap about how you started in the field — just that you know what you're doing."

    "So, if you want to go into the 'biz' and are worried about the cost, individual workshops, community college, and two-year programs are great options! Most likely, what you'll need to get into the industry is a contact, not a degree."

    re89245

    9. "B.A. in history. Some would argue it’s a useless major, but that degree taught me to write well, speed read (I was reading a book a week for every class by the time I graduated), research effectively, retain lots of information quickly, and build compelling arguments. I initially thought I wanted to go into law, but I ultimately got a master’s in public health and now work as a program manager for a large healthcare system and make six-figures."

    "No regrets whatsoever about my undergrad degree."

    chaosofthesun

    10. "I majored in sociology at a liberal arts college, and I currently work as a director of global client strategy at a major media company. After graduating, there was no shortage of peers who attended research or technical universities cracking jokes about my 'useless' major. Sociology majors kinda get ragged on and slept on."

    "'WhAt CaN YoU EvEn Do wItH ThAt?' they always snark. In marketing and communications — which depends heavily on research and human truths — you can do a lot."

    —31, New York

    11. "I studied biological anthropology (human evolution) and am now a field archeologist for various government agencies. In very simple terms, I am paid to hike in and around the most beautiful natural spaces on earth while protecting the history of that area. Currently, I'm living in (yes, in) one of the towns in Lake Tahoe. I have also lived and worked in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Florida, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico."

    "I am beyond fortunate to have an amazing career path with my useless degree that permits me to see the beauty in the USA. On top of that, having every — yes, every — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off is pretty awesome too. What good is living in these areas without three-day weekends to explore?"

    —Anonymous, California

    12. "I was in college for three and a half years for teaching. I had the TEACH Grant, where I HAD to come out a teacher — or else I would have more student loans than everyone else. I wasn't allowed the work-study program, for example, because the TEACH Grant and a few other loans filled my financial aid quota. Not even a week into my second semester senior year (student teaching, after three and a half years of an excellent GPA, passion, etc.), my school didn't want to deal with my cooperating teacher not wanting to deal with me, so I was kicked from the education program."

    "My focus had been English, so immediately after the meeting where I watched my future burn to ashes, I was pushed into my new English class while they threw together an English degree for me to graduate on time. I graduated that semester cum laude with a bachelor's in English (and a LOT of trauma, mental illness, and loans to pay back). I've been jumping from job to job for years. No one will take me because I don't have the years of experience or proper education they want. I can't afford any more education (though I'm dying to study for a PhD). I want a career — I'm 32!"

    —32, New York

    13. "I have a BFA and MFA in studio art, with minors in art history and women’s studies. I pursued volunteer work more than gallery shows or internships. A few months ago, at age 33, I landed my dream job doing art therapy in a retirement home with dementia patients."

    pugtato

    14. "General studies — no real focus of a degree and was a strange mishmash of different degree plans. The job I had was pressuring me into finishing my bachelor's degree, so I went with what was the quickest and easiest. While I struggled at first to find a job, I taught myself how to program and was able to get in with a company and work my way into a senior software engineer position making around $350,000 a year."

    —43, Texas

    15. "In Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Bruce jokes that 'you can think deep thoughts about being unemployed' with a philosophy degree. He isn't wrong. I graduated in 2005, and I've worked at a motorcycle dealership since 2007. I've been a manager here since 2010, and I make pretty decent money for my area. Most of the very best friends I've ever had in my life are people I've met through work, and we have a great time at the dealership. I can't complain too much, but I definitely wasted five years of my life and a boatload of money on college for basically nothing."

    "I have very few long-lasting friendships from that experience, and I never even seriously considered a career involving my degree at any point. I have a really expensive piece of paper in a frame in a box from my last move almost two years ago. I didn't even care enough to put it on the wall yet. If I had to do it over, I absolutely wouldn't go to college, and I have a hard time encouraging my 16-year-old daughter to want to go to school either."

    —35, West Virginia

    16. "Game development. Fortunately, my job is the intended industry for my 'useless fine arts degree.' For well over a decade now, I have worked with extremely talented people to create games. Over 100 million people, at least, have played games I've worked on. I love my job, I love the people I work with, and I love people that play games. Despite concerns over the usefulness of a fine arts degree my career has gone better than I hoped."

    "One aspect which was unexpected is that I mostly write code and manage/train people these days. I must admit that a computer science degree would have been more helpful early in my career. However, many of my relevant skills have been developed on the job, so everything worked out. Positive changes have been occurring industry wide and after working through some negative experiences myself I'm glad to have the opportunity to contribute to positive changes."

    —36, California

    17. "My major was psychology, which my best friend's dad declared useless. I did go on to get a graduate degree in counseling and am licensed as a counselor in two states. But I run a nonprofit behavioral health agency that covers three counties, serves 600–700 people annually and employs 75 people."

    "I know that it is rare for someone with a psych degree to work in a related job, but it is possible, and I employ lots of people with the same 'useless' major before and after their graduate degree."

    —55, Maryland

    18. "I paid a small fortune to study arts management, and now I am a florist (something I started learning before I went for my degree). I was heavily influenced by my family that college was something you had to do to be successful, and now I regret it daily."

    devloiseg

    19. "B.A. in English literature. For several years, I did executive communications for a large financial services company. Basically, taking large amounts of information and dumbing it down for people who make a lot more money than me (like our board or directors or the Federal Reserve). I made six-figures doing that."

    mabd

    20. "I majored in business (specifically, entrepreneurship and operations management). Business degrees shouldn't exist; business education should be treated like the trades where you apprentice and learn on the job. I was in venture capital and then lending for several years before deciding more money wasn't worth the cost of my life. I'm now a novelist, and do small woodworking projects to supplement my irregular income! But I'M HAPPY!"

    —31, Indiana

    21. "I majored in communication, earning B.A and M.A degrees. I just retired after 32 years in the teaching field. Mostly, I taught public speaking, interpersonal communication and introduction to speech communication. I also taught English as a second language in Japan and Saudi Arabia. I have no regrets in the discipline I selected. However, in the five years between my undergraduate and graduate career, I struggled and drifted for job: bartender, forklift driver, accounting clerk, and psychiatric technician."

    "I needed an advance degree to actually find a decent job."

    —68, Wisconsin

    22. "I majored in dance and am now a public school elementary dance teacher — I absolutely LOVE my job. I did not take any education classes until after I graduated and received my certification through a post-bach program at my university."

    —41, Texas

    23. "I have a B.A. in criminology, law, and justice. I never wanted to be a cop! As an African American male living in Chicago at the time, I watched the riots against the police from my dorm room and knew it was important for me to know my rights! I am now earning my master's degree in social work and am fighting for social justice every day."

    —29 Colorado

    24. "I was a double major in film studies and women and gender studies. I’m a lawyer now. I loved what I studied in college, and both majors involved a lot of critical thinking and analytical writing skills that I use every day."

    —29, Washington

    25. "I went to school for theater — specifically costume design. Multiple degrees. I actually did it at the highest level as an associate and assistant for over a decade. For me, it wasn't worth it. Burnout, the culture of choosing work over family, and the toxicity of 'this is just how it’s done' drove me out just before the pandemic."

    "I currently work at an interior design firm, and I couldn’t be happier! I brought all my friends with me, and they’re loving the much better work-life balance. It’s great fun without the guilt of giving the entirety of yourself for your 'dream.'"

    —37, DC

    26. "English B.A. and M.A. I taught college composition for 15 years and never earned more than $36,000 a year. Now I'm in technical writing making $125,000 a year."

    "Teaching sucked."

    —48, North Carolina

    27. "Mine was religion and social justice; I was the only one who got that degree in my graduating class. I’m a finance director for a nonprofit and work as a finance/ops consultant. The math I took in college was statistics, and I got a C. Honestly, I’m surprised I’m in this field, but it’s a beautiful reminder that you don’t necessarily need an MBA or higher ed degree to do what you love or your job."

    "A lot what I have learned for my job has been through my mentors and them taking a chance on me."

    —30, Arkansas

    28. "Over 20 years ago, I got an Associate in Arts — I was going to be an artist, but life had other plans! Fast-forward through many different relocations and jobs, and I am now a butcher. I can honestly say that I enjoy my work, and it's something I never thought I would be doing those 20-something years ago while in school."

    —44, USA

    29. "Psychology. Then, I got my master’s in clinical counseling. I worked for a few years doing child and family therapy with kids who had been abused. It was super intense, and the salary was an absolute joke for a job that required a master’s degree. Now, I’m a wedding and event planner."

    "I use the skills I learned in school to navigate people through the planning process. It’s a job that brings me a lot of joy — even though sometimes, I regret all that time and money spent in graduate school."

    —38, South Carolina

    30. "I started out as a classical musician and trained at music conservatories in NYC for my bachelor's in music performance, San Francisco for my master's, touring, playing in gig orchestras, and teaching to make a living. I made a career change in my mid-twenties after seeing the reality of an uncertain and unstable future. Moved back to NYC, completed a post-bach pre-med program, went to med school, and matched into a competitive surgical residency."

    "I’m now finishing up a fellowship in a surgical sub specialty and on my way to signing a contract for my first attending gig. I am so grateful for all the opportunities in my first life as a musician, and even though my surgical career is a bit delayed compared to my colleagues, I wouldn’t change a thing."

    —38, USA

    31. "I have a BFA in sculpture and ceramics. My parents wanted me to major in art education so I could get a job. I chose studio art. I also earned an MFA in sculpture and ceramics. I am now a full-time professional artist with an assistant, and my husband also works for my business."

    "Our family is completely supported by my career as an artist and my 'worthless degrees.'"

    —37, Missouri

    32. "I graduated with a degree in philosophy. Today, I work in finance. I found it difficult to find a good paying job when I mentioned my major, despite going to one of the nation’s highest-ranked colleges."

    "I went back to school to get enough credits to claim and computer science minor. That changed everything. Comp science in any form is the new MBA."

    —40 Washington, DC

    33. "I majored in Spanish studies. Not much to do with that unless I went on to get a teaching degree. I ended up getting a job as a medical interpreter/translator. I love my job and the variety of things I get to see in a day: radiology, ER, surgery, birth, making connections with patients, and so much more. There are hard parts, too: having to deliver hard news, angry patients, surgeries going bad, etc. But it’s mostly a great job that pays really well."

    "I didn’t actually need a bachelor’s degree for the job, but as a native English speaker, there’s no way I could have learned enough Spanish (spoken and written) without my degree to do this job."

    arschubes

    34. "I majored in communications/global journalism. I transferred from community college in my Florida hometown to a Northeast four-year school in 2005 — the first year of the death knell for print journalism. Job outlook was so bad, my journalism professor urged us to consider switching majors. I'm not enough of a schmoozer for PR, so I stayed. First job in 2009 post-graduation was writing online articles for a SEO company. The pay was so low that an employee from Washington had to interrupt orientation to tell HR she was making below her state's minimum wage."

    "Now I write for an online medical newswire — though much of my job is just data entry. It's been 11 years now with no advancement (but more responsibilities) and modest, irregular pay raises. Last month I got a 1.3% raise, way below the average COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) increase around 3% — nets me an extra $20 a week. It's infuriating since remote work adds an hour or more of extra tasks to my day; I've been doing it since March 2020, and the only other raise I got in that timespan was predicated on my being safely able to return to my news beat (city courthouse, not my company's office), which has not happened.

    So no, I don't really like it. I wish more than anything that instead of going to college, I had focused on more sensible career training. I don't need a degree to earn such a pedestrian paycheck and do a job from which I derive little meaning."

    —41, USA

    35. "Recreation park tourism management. I’m now the director of an education department at a zoo, and I love it!"

    —34, Pennsylvania

    36. "I was a history major, and I'm now in the Navy as an interior communication electrician (TV, alarm, and telephone systems). The hierarchy is rough, but I like the camaraderie and learning an actual skill I can use. I regret working and getting a bachelor's degree (without loans) and should have used loans and gone to a technical college and learned something useful like HVAC or electronic technology."

    "That way I would have had a valuable skill that pays well and now would have been debt-free."

    —25, Virginia

    And finally...

    37. "I got a master’s in theater arts. My entire family thought it was stupid, and said I was wasting my time and money. After college, they joked how I was going to work at Walmart because my degree wouldn’t get me in a 'real job.' Right out of college, I found a job in a Seattle theatre. Now, I live in NYC and have landed a job at Broadway and make about $86,000 a year — more than my brother with his 'useful' business degree."

    —22, New York

    Did any of these experiences surprise you? Let's change it up — if you studied a major that people typically consider "useful," was it actually worth it? What do you do for work now? Let us know in the comments below!

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.