Job growth averages for attainable careers with these degrees are expected to stagnate within a decade.

You’ve been told how college degrees are great investments. Plenty of studies conclude that earning a higher education credential (whether it’s an academic degree or a professional degree) can increase your take-home pay over your lifetime. But let’s face the other truth: not all degrees are equal. Some college degrees lead to dead careers and areas of work with slow or declining job growth. And, there are very few places to research degree outcomes. Which college degrees likely lead to stagnating or declining job areas? provides average salary outcomes, job growth averages, and average costs for particular degrees. Today, you’re going to learn which higher education degrees lead to declining career fields using data from

Manufacturing Degrees

Manufacturing in the United States is pretty much nonexistent. This sector peaked in the 1970s with semiconductor production being the last major holdout during the ’90s, but that sector eventually went over the border. You might want to avoid any field of study having to do with industrial production, but you should especially avoid pursuing the following degrees at any college.

Industrial Electronics

An industrial electronics degree is predicted to lead to career fields that will grow very slowly over this decade, if at all. With factories barely existing in the U.S. nowadays, focusing on industrial electronics may not be the wisest choice. If you choose to pursue a degree in this field, do not pursue any level higher than an associate’s degree. The state with the highest average salary for this degree is Washington, especially in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area.


A degree in watchmaking? It exists. There are schools dedicated to the craft of watchmaking, but is the degree worth obtaining? From what can be ascertained from, the job with the most growth is watch repair (6.67% job growth average; $45,290 national salary average median, mostly requiring an associate’s degree). The job most associated with production assembly (“Timing Device Assemblers and Adjusters”) is predicted to decline in demand—not surprising since it’s tied to manufacturing.


Unlike watchmaking, a jewelry-making degree leads to more work areas with declining job growth. Gem and diamond workers require a bachelor’s degree; jewelers and metal workers generally don’t require any degrees. Both job fields are expected to grow by less than 1% within a decade. The average national salary median for degree-holders in jewelry-making is approximately $40,000 annually. Alaska has the highest average salary median ($59,000/year average in the Fairbanks metro area, for watchmaking and jewelry-making degree-holders).

Already Have a Degree?

If you already hold a degree in any of these fields of study, then you should look for jobs having to do with installations and repairs. Those job fields are expected to grow at least 6% between now and 2030. Depending on the practicality of your education, your work experience (at least 2-4 years), and when you received the degree, you should meet most requirements for landing technician jobs. The highest salaries can be found in the Northwest, the West Coast, the Southwest, and the Southeast.

Machinist Degrees

Machinists are responsible for configuring and operating precision tools. The most modern job role is the CNC machinist, who is responsible for programming and operating industrial machines. Because this field relates to the manufacturing sector, job growth will stagnate or decline. The rise of artificial intelligence is expected to impact employment, negating most of the knowledge gained in a machinist degree program. On WillRobotsTakeMyJob?, the website estimates a high risk of automation in this field (78%), and another publication foresees the “benefits” of A.I. for businesses that depend on machinists (which translates to fewer workers being in demand). Studying artificial intelligence, or at least computer programming might provide a supplemental advantage in this field alongside a CNC machinist degree for general knowledge about the subject. The worst credential to pursue is a tool machinist degree, which only provides education in machine operations—a job function that will certainly be replaced with automation systems.

eSports Degrees

If you’re a video game streamer or someone who watches video games on YouTube, you’ve probably been targeted with esports degree advertisements appearing in your social media feeds and display banners on various websites. Although esports is growing in popularity, the industry isn’t at a point of requiring credentials—not for managing tournaments, not for being a competitive player, not for business functions. There are no statistics yet available on the degree outcomes of earning an esports degree. From briefly browsing job listings on Indeed and ZipRecruiter, there’s no mention of an esports degree and no suggestions that one would be needed. A bachelor’s degree in marketing, business administration, or technology, and content management experience is usually the most requested credentials. An article on even advises against pursuing a degree and instead using the time to learn about making content and becoming a better player. For tournament management functions, traditional business degrees might be better choices.

Cryptocurrency Degrees

If you’re a cryptocurrency enthusiast, you’ve probably been inundated with banners advertising cryptocurrency degrees. Although the topic has hit the mainstream, no degree outcome statistics are available to judge the viability of obtaining such a degree. Let’s distinguish between cryptocurrency economic degrees and blockchain development degrees. The latter has more to do with software development, while the former relates to economics. There are lots of books and courses that cover the economics of cryptocurrency, making a degree unnecessary. Plus, cryptocurrency economics are based on Austrian economic theories and don’t represent radically new concepts. Blockchain technology is very new; pursuing a course or certificate in this area could be a worthwhile endeavor.

Word Processing and Desktop Publishing Degrees

Are there still degrees in this area? Most of the developed world with access to word processing software has these programs installed by default. The job growth averages for word processing degrees are expected to decrease by 3% over the next 10 years. Most jobs have been automated or will face automation by A.I., leading to less demand for word processing professionals. Some fields may still need human word processors (courtrooms and notaries, for example) but expect salaries for those fields to decrease over time. The national average with an associate’s degree in this field is $25,000 a year, with the highest average salary median being in Colorado’s Denver metro area ($48,000 per year).

Degrees for desktop publishing are also expected to decline in importance for pursuing. Like with word processors, A.I. is expected to automate most of these functions. California has the highest average salary median for this degree ($76,000 per year), but the job growth averages are -3%.

Data Entry and Clerical Degrees

General office degrees and data entry degrees are expected to lead to jobs with declining job growth averages and low salaries (depending on the areas). The national average salary median is $43,000, with a bachelor’s degree leading to the highest average salary medians in the freight industry (see office degrees filtered by bachelor’s degree level). Improved technologies, including advances in A.I., will lead to less demand for workers to do basic office functions. Generalized medical office degrees (medical office assistant, medical reception, medical office management) are included here. Still, office management degrees that are focused on advanced management functions (such as budgeting, forecasting, public relations, data management, and other management topics) lead to worthwhile administrative services career opportunities and high average salary medians (ranging between $66,000 to $90,000 depending on the locale).

Want to research degree outcomes? Visit and explore the average salaries, average job growth, and average education costs for over 1,700 degrees.