Getting a college degree is an investment in yourself. But like all investments, some have a better return than others. With about 37 million U.S. borrowers burdened by more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, it may be time to consider just what your degree gets you.
Luckily, Bankrate.com has done the work for you, using tuition data from the National Center for Education Statistics and job data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the average time it would take a worker to pay off their student loan debt (assuming an average interest payment of 6 percent).
Here's what they found:
Advertising/marketing: You don't need to pay for a graduate degree to be Don Draper. And with a median salary of $107,950, workers in advertising and marketing can pay off their student loans in less than six years, according to Bankrate.com.
Economist: It's true that to rising to Ben Bernanke's status requires more than the four years of schooling. But many economist jobs only require a bachelor's degree. With a median salary of nearly $92,000 and a degree cost of about $52,000 on average, economists should be able to pay off their loans in slightly more than 7 years on average, according to Bankrate.com.
Civil Engineer: Civil engineers require about four years of school and make about $80,000 per year on average, according to Bankrate.com. At that rate, they should be able to pay off their loans in something around 8.5 years.
Political Scientists: Becoming a political scientist only requires six years of schooling and earns you about $102,000 on average, according to Bankrate.com. As a result, it takes them an average of just over 8.5 years to pay off their student debt.
Full-Time Teacher: The minimum schooling required to become a teacher is just four years, but that teacher's average salary of $43,000 can make it difficult to pay off student debt. In fact, it takes them more than 20 years on average, according to Bankrate.com. Poor Mr. Feeny.
Veteranarian: The barrier to entry for becoming a vet is high -- a full 8 years in school. And after paying for all that schooling, vets only make about $84,000 on average, meaning it will likely take them nearly 28 years to pay off their loans, according to Bankrate.com.
News Analyst/Reporter/Correspondent: Becoming a journalist only requires about 4 years of school, but the pay is so low -- at about $37,000 on average -- that it will take a reporter about 31 years to pay off their loans, according to Bankrate.com. That is, unless you make it to Anderson Cooper-levels of fame.
Marriage and Family Therapist: With a minimum of six years of schooling required, and a median salary of about $46,000, therapists will be paying off their student loans for almost 35 years, according to Bankrate.com.