Chasing your dream job can be expensive but settling for a career that pays well could make you unhappy. So, what’s the right choice?

As more and more young people turn to student loans to pay for higher education, they are having to make difficult choices: going for careers that promise solid earnings and employment, or following the path to their dream job, which may not pay so well and could be in a highly competitive industry. This infographic, which details the average cost of college tuition in the US, shows just how expensive education can be: So, what to do?

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, the median salary of people with arts or humanities degrees is $50,000. This compares to $68,000 for those with undergraduate degrees in science, engineering and related fields (STEM).

Other statistics by the US Department of Education show that careers in STEM – and this includes computer science – witnessed a 14% increase in employability from 2010 through 2020. Jobs in bioengineering, for example, are projected to jump by 62% by the end of the decade, and maths-related jobs look set to increase by 16%. Meanwhile, college enrolment in arts and humanities dropped by 14% between 2008 and 2016.

Of course, there are strong arguments for studies in the arts of humanities. Qualifications in these fields can be vital for the development of future technologies, for example. As we say in our blog post on the Royal Photographic Society Science Photographer of the Year competition, there’s a reason why STEM is morphing into STEAMM (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths and medicine), however. Increasingly, we’re realising that to be a scientist you need to be creative. Essentially, science needs artists, architects and designers – and photographers.

Remember, if you are focused on humanities and the arts, you can always pursue these subjects through STEM, and vice versa. Stay strong and make the right decision!

This blog post was written in collaboration with Darko Jacimovic, founder of WhatToBecome.