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Top 20 College Degrees with Best and Worst Value

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new Bankrate study that estimates how long it would take to repay student loans according to career choice should help parents and students looking to invest those college dollars wisely.

With Friday's jobs report showing an uptick in the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent, students and parents need to put extra thought into which majors will offer the best prospects and return on investment after graduation.

Bankrate.com ranked 20 popular careers and related majors according to their median compensation and the amount of time it would take to repay student loans for each.

Jessica Patel, a personal finance analyst at Bankrate.com, said this is the first time the financial website has conducted such a study.  Bankrate.com used the most recent data from the national Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the study.

"With student loan rates as high as they are now and student loan debt increasingly growing, we wanted parents and children to have a tool for the best jobs for the money," Patel said.

In July, federal Stafford loan interest rates are expected to double to 6.8 percent.  The average amount of debt from the college class of 2013 is $35,200, according to Fidelity.

After studying 20 popular careers, Patel said so-called "stable" careers, such as doctor or lawyer, often failed to offer a higher financial return, because of their higher educational costs.

"You don't need a graduate degree or don't need to go to school for as long as you think to have a well-paying job," she said.

A job in advertising or marketing, which does not require a post-graduate degree, was the career with the least amount of time to repay student debt.  Assuming that 10 percent of one's salary goes toward repaying school loans, a median salary of $107,950, a total higher education cost of $52,596 (tuition, fees, room and board) and a six percent student loan interest rate, it would take 5.83 years to repay student debt.

Of the 20 careers, the job with the longest loan repayment time was marriage and family therapist, which requires about two years of graduate school.  Assuming a salary of $46,670, it would take about 34.67 years to repay student debt in that field.

Here are 20 popular career choices analyzed by Bankrate.com:

1. Advertising, Marketing, Promotions -- 5.83 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $107,950
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $10,795

2. Economist -- 7.08 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $91,860
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $9,186

3. Civil Engineer -- 8.50 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $79,340
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $7,934

4. Political Scientist -- 8.58 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 6
Cost of degree: $68,010
Median pay: $102,000
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $10,200

5. Pharmacist -- 10.83 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 7
Cost of degree: $92,421
Median pay: $116,670
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $11,667

6. Microbiologist -- 10.83 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $66,260
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $6,626

7. Physician: Family or General Practitioner -- 10.92 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 8
Cost of degree: $136,861
Median pay: $172,020
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $17,202

8. Accountant -- 11.50 years to repay
Minimum required years in higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $63,550
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $6,355

9. Market Research Analyst -- 12.42 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $60,300
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $6,030

10. Lawyer -- 13.33 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 7
Cost of degree: $103,677
Median pay: $113,530
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $11,353

11. Dentist -- 13.75 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 8
Cost of degree: $139,298
Median pay: $149,310
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $14,931

12. Political Science Teacher: Post-Secondary -- 14 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 6
Cost of degree: $68,010
Median pay: $72,170
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $7,217

13. Public Relations Specialist -- 14.67 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $54,170
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $5,417

14. English Language/Literature Teacher: Post-Secondary -- 19.08 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 6
Cost of degree: $68,010
Median pay: $60,040
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $6,004

15. Zoologist, Wildlife Biologist -- 20.58 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 6
Cost of degree: $68,010
Median pay: $57,710
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $5,771

16. Librarian -- 22.33 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 6
Cost of degree: $68,010
Median pay: $55,370
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $5,537

17. Teacher (full-time) -- 21.75 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $43,400
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $4,340

18. Veterinarian -- 27.92 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 8
Cost of degree: $114,268
Median pay: $84,460
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $8,446

19. News Analyst, Reporter, Correspondent -- 31.83 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 4
Cost of degree: $52,596
Median pay: $37,090
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $3,709

20. Marriage and Family Therapist -- 34.67 years to repay
Minimum required years of higher education: 6
Cost of degree: $68,010
Median pay: $46,670
Annual repayment at 10 percent of salary: $4,667

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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