In the last week, there's been a flurry of press warning college students that majoring in architecture might lessen their odds of finding a job after they graduate. The Washington Post published a piece titled "New study shows architecture, arts degrees yield highest unemployment"; The New York Times' Economix blog ran "Want a Job? Go to College, and Don't Major in Architecture." And CNNMoney.com posted "Unemployment Soars Among College Majors Like Architecture."
The catalyst? A new study released on January 5 by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, titled Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment, and Earnings: Not all College Graduates are Created Equal. The full report is available online as a PDF.
Yes, the Georgetown report shows very clearly that architecture has the highest unemployment rates for recent college graduates with that major (a whopping 13.9%) and for those with graduate degrees in that discpline (7.7%).
Still, one could look at the report's figures and suggest that getting a graduate degree in architecture offers better employment prospects than getting merely an undergrad degree in math or computer science, for which the unemployment rate is 8.2%.
And salaries for recent college grads with architecture degrees -- those who are fortunate enough to land a job -- are higher than those of a number of other majors. The average for just-minted architects with bachelor's degrees is listed as $36,000; while those of majors in the life sciences is only $32,000; those with law and public policy undergrad diplomas will receive on average $34,000 in yearly pay.
The highest paid recent college grads are engineering majors, who will see $55,000 pay checks right out of school, on average, beating computer and mathematics majors at $46,000. Business majors, perhaps surprisingly, will earn only $39,000--not much more than (employed) young architects.