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The 7 Lowest-Paying Jobs That Require A College Education: 24/7 Wall St.

First Posted: 11/16/11 01:35 PM ET Updated: 11/17/11 12:57 PM ET

From 24/7 Wall St.: College graduates with student loans owed an average of $25,250 in 2010, an all-time high and a 5 percent increase, according to a recent report. What makes matters worse is that students graduating in 2010 faced unemployment of 9.1 percent, the highest annual rate on record, according to the Project on Student Debt's report.

Given the grim figures facing college graduates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify the seven occupations that require at least a college degree and pay the least.

Jobs that pay poorly and require a college degree or higher have at least one thing in common: the wrong industry. Some industries, including those in mental health, academic research, the arts and publishing tend to pay poorly. The entry level jobs in these fields and on this list do not pay well. Reporters starting out make less than $20,000 per year.

Many of the people employed in the jobs on our list will have a hard time paying off their student loans. The occupations on the list earn less than $40,000 annually. In every case, jobs paid far less to start. A quarter of the people employed as survey researchers, for example, earn less than $24,000 annually.

24/7 Wall St. examined wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics Database, to identify the major occupations that make less than $40,000 annually. BLS's Occupational Outlook Handbook was used to identify educational requirements and long-term job prospects. O*Net Online, an independent career research and advisory site, was used to determine the percentage of people in each occupation with a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD. The seven occupations on our list required a bachelor’s degree or more from most employers.

Here are the seven occupations that require the most education but pay the least, according to 24/7 Wall St.:

7. Recreational Therapists
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Median income: $39,410
Bottom-tier income: $24,640
Number employed: 20,830
Percentage with at least a bachelor's degree: 71 percent
Projected change in jobs (2008 - 2018): +15 percent

Recreational therapists work with sick or disabled individuals to help reduce depression and "maintain the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their clients," according to the BLS. Most recreational therapists have at least a bachelor's degree, and 15% have a master's degree. The number of positions available is expected to increase by 15% between 2008 and 2018 as the elderly population, one of the largest group of clients, grows. The median wage for a recreational therapist is just $39,410 per year, and the bottom 10% make less than $25,000 per year.

Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
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