Which College Majors Will Make You A 1%'er: The Answer May Surprise

By now we know that at least according to conventional wisdom says one has to be a banker, lawyer, or hedge fund manager to be guaranteed a spot in the fabled "1%". But a still outstanding question is what college-level studies do future 1%'ers take to end up in the top of the social pyramid? As the NYT shows, the result is quite surprising. As it turns out, "the majors that give you the best chance of reaching the 1 percent are pre-med, economics, biochemistry, zoology and, yes, biology, in that order." Just as curious, in terms of actual proportional representation, coming in at 1.9 million, the second most represented major within the 1% is... English and English Language. Bottom line - good news for Liberal Arts majors: all you have to do to get that PM job in Greenwich is to convince the boss that extensive knowledge of Shakespeare's sonnets is conducive to procuring some quality "information arbitrage" (on an untapped phone line of course). Alas, bad news for sociology and geology majors - these two are nowhere to be found, dooming the Rocks for Jocks crowd to a life of "99%"ism.

From the NYT:

Below is a chart showing the majors most likely to get into the 1 percent (excluding majors held by fewer than 50,000 people in 2010 census data). The third column shows the percentage of degree holders with that major who make it into the 1 percent. The fourth column shows the percent of the 1 percent (among college grads) that hold that major. In other words, more than one in 10 people with a pre-med degree make it into the 1 percent, and about 1 in 100 of the 1 percenters with degrees majored in pre-med.


Of course, choice of major is not the only way to increase your chances of reaching the 1 percent, if that is your goal. There is also the sector you choose.


A separate analysis of census data on occupations showed that one in eight lawyers, for example, are in the 1 percent — unless they work for a Wall Street firm, when their chances increase to one in three. Among chief executives, fewer than one in five rank among the 1 percent, but their chances increase if the company produces medical supplies (one in four) or drugs (two in five). Hollywood writers? One in nine are 1 percenters. Television or radio writers? One in 14. Newspaper writers and editors? One in 62.