Forbes magazine now lists “Anthropology and Archaeology” as well as “History” among the top 10 “Worst College Majors.” History is No. 9 while “Anthropology and Archaeology” are No. 1.

Unlike the Daily Beast‘s rankings earlier this year, Forbes is explicit about what it means by “worst.” It’s all about the unemployment rates and expected earnings for recent grads.

If you want to see the depressing statistics, you can check out the Forbes article online.

But really, what’s the point Forbes?

It’s hardly news that an archaeology major is no ticket to financial superfluity. The Ohio Historical Society’s first curator of archaeology understood that in 1897 and nothing much has changed in the past century.

I was told by my high school guidance counselor in 1974 that archaeology was a terrible career choice — “There are no jobs and even if you find a job in the field it won’t pay very well.”

Well, actually, there are jobs though he was right that most of them don’t pay all that well — or at least the strictly monetary rewards aren’t all that spectacular.

So how many readers of Forbes were even thinking about a career in archaeology anyway?

Probably not very many; but if any of them had considered the possibility, they know better now — or think they do.

The value of archaeology has been a topic I’ve considered before in this blog, so I won’t repeat the arguments here. It’s sad, but revealing when magazines like Forbes presume to judge the value of college majors merely by how much money you can make with the diploma.

In “Life without principle,” Henry David Thoreau wrote that “the aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get ‘a good job,’ but to perform well a certain work…” not for money merely, but for the love of it.

I think that’s good advice, but you won’t find it in Forbes.


Brad Lepper

Posted October 12, 2012
Topics: Archaeology

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