A college degree is an essential asset. It’s also one of the most significant financial purchases a young adult makes. On average, Americans are paying more than $30,000 to earn their degree. Many are taking on student loan debt to do it.
How can you be sure to make the most of your tuition investment?
Your college major will play a significant role. While all majors have merit, some promise a healthier financial future than others.
These are the 20 best college majors to land a lucrative job after graduation. Median income data is from payscale.com. Choose wisely. Your future paycheck depends on it.
A business degree opens doors to a broad range of industries. All companies that provide goods or services need business experts. It’s an ideal major if you aren’t sure what type of company interests you.
Pick a specific area of study when pursuing a business degree. You’ll increase your take-home pay compared to a general degree. Some careers also require more certification as with Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).
Even among business majors, salary potential varies. These five business school majors provide exceptional earning potential.
Finance is the management of wealth. Within an organization, the finance team handles maximizing the company’s assets. They might focus on investing, budgeting, lending, or forecasting, among other things. For example, a finance manager creates, implements, and monitors a budget.
Investment banking is a common path for finance majors, but not the only one. All industries need financial expertise. Demand for these skills means finance can be lucrative in entry-level positions. If you want to build your wealth quickly, a finance major may be the best option.
Finance Manager Salary:
Salary Range $50,000-$125,000
Median Salary: $91,000
Economics is a social science that studies the transfer of goods and services. This major can be in business or arts and sciences, depending on your school.
Economists help companies and governments make strategic decisions. They do this by analyzing economic factors that affect the markets for goods or services. Examples are demand, supply, and pricing. Advanced analysis of data is necessary, so economics degrees have demanding math requirements.
Salary Range: $45,000 – $132,000
Median Salary: $75,000
Accountants calculate and report on a business’s finances. They also play a crucial role in reporting taxes. Accountants can work for small companies or large organizations as a corporate accountant. For the latter, becoming a Certified Public Accountant is typically required.
Every type of business needs accountants. Opportunities exist in industries, from sports to agriculture. This field also has specializations like Forensic Accounting or Environmental Accounting.
Salary Range: $39,000 – $71,000
Median Salary: $51,000
Certified Public Accountant Salary:
Salary Range: $48,000-$110,000
Median Salary: $66,000
- Healthcare Administration
A healthcare administrator handles the business side of a medical facility. They have to run a profitable operation and stay in compliance with all regulations. Most healthcare administrators have previous experience as a medical practitioner like a nurse.
A degree in healthcare administration limits you to a specific industry. However, the type of facility you work in can vary. Administration roles exist in hospitals, labs, specialized clinics, and nursing homes.
Healthcare Administrator Salary:
Salary Range: $40,000-$105,000
Median Salary: $66,000
Marketers often have the success of a product or service in their hands. It’s their job to motivate consumers to buy through promotion. Strategic promotion needs research, budgeting, sales, asset creation, and media management. Marketing roles may focus on one part or be broad roles that encompass all.
Jobs in marketing are either internal or external roles. Internal roles are within a company as a part of their marketing team. An external role is with an agency that works with many clients. Either type of position is available in most industries.
Marketing Manager Salary:
Salary Range: $43,000-$99,000
Median Salary: $65,000
Medical degrees are specific, but that is a benefit. The demand for medical professionals is much more stable than in other fields. The need for medical services doesn’t decline if the economy does. Therefore medical studies offer a path to steady employment.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend much time in school to land a high-salary medical job. Due to the field’s technical nature, you may only need a technical certificate or a two-year degree. You will also need to pass a board certification exam. Specialized training is standardized, so don’t pay for a high-tuition university. You can save on tuition by going to a technical school or community college.
These five medical majors can quickly get you a high paying job with a relatively low education cost.
All nurses promote the health and wellness of the community. Yet, several factors affect what a career in nursing looks like.
First, there are various titles and pay scales, depending on your level of education. An associate’s degree can merit you the title of a registered nurse. You will need a master’s degree to be a nurse practitioner.
Second, nurses have varied work environments depending on their employer. Nurses can work in emergency rooms, schools, and even in patient’s homes.
Registered Nurse Salary:
Salary Range: $43,000-$90,000
Median Salary: $64,000
Nurse Practitioner Salary: (Masters Degree Required)
Salary Range: $77,000-$120,000
Median Salary: $95,000
Nurse Midwife Salary: (Masters Degree Required)
Salary Range: $78,000-$113,000
Median Salary: $95,000
Nurse Anesthetist Salary:
Salary Range: $100,000-$198,000
Median Salary: $151,000
7. Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine uses radioactive materials to detect and treat disease. A nuclear medicine technologist gives patients small amounts of radioactive substances. They can then see their organs using radiation detection equipment.
Nuclear medicine is a highly specialized job. Entry-level roles are available with an associate’s degree from an accredited program.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist:
Salary Range: $50,000-$94,000
8. Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists provide oral care with another dental professional such as a dentist. Hygienists specialize in teeth cleaning and hygiene education. They also provide screening and prevention for oral cancer and other oral diseases.
Dental hygiene provides a high salary with an associate’s degree. You can also pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field. All dental hygienists must pass board examinations.
Dental Hygienist Salary:
Salary Range: $39,000-$79,000
Median Salary: $59,000
9. Respiratory Therapy
Respiratory therapists focus on pulmonary health. They treat chronic diseases like asthma and provide emergency care for breathing issues. Most respiratory therapists work in hospitals. However, jobs are available in rehabilitation centers and sleep labs.
You can start earning as a respiratory therapist with an associate’s degree. Training on medical equipment is crucial, so technical schools often offer degrees. Many community colleges also have programs.
Respiratory Therapist Salary:
Salary Range: $40,000-$78,000
Median Salary: $55,000
10. Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistants
Both occupational and physical therapy assistants help patients develop or regain functional mobility. They often work together. Occupational therapists help with the skills for daily activities like getting dressed. A physical therapist focuses, instead, on general movement.
You’ll need an associate’s degree to be an assistant therapist. These entry-level positions can be lucrative. A bachelor’s degree is necessary to advance to the level of a therapist.
Physical Therapist Assistant:
Salary Range: $38,000-$65,000
Median Salary: $50,000
Occupational Therapist Assistant:
Salary Range: $32,000 -$63,000
Median Salary: $48,000
Science, Technology, and Mathematics Majors
A science, technology, or mathematics degree offers many paths to a high-paying job. These skills are in demand in a wide range of industries. Business, medicine, and technology are just a few.
The importance of technology and computing in our modern economy is enormous. So is the need for educated professionals to create, build, and install it. Unlike the builders of the past, these are rarely jobs where you get your hands dirty. Most graduates work in an office, behind a desk.
Most jobs listed here demand a bachelor’s degree but can merit a six-figure salary. Further career and salary advancement are possible with a master’s degree.
11. Information Technology
Information technology, or I.T., applies technology to business. Working in I.T. requires strong problem solving, managerial, and communication skills. When a company tries new automation, its processes and protocols have to change with it. This is where an information technology expert can help.
An I.T. major has a significant overlap with computer science. The main difference is that information technology is more management focused. In this field, look for extra certifications that can help secure the highest-paying roles.
Computer Network Architect Salary:
Salary Range: $79,000-$155,000
Median Salary: $121,000
Information Security Analyst Salary:
Salary Range: $50,000-$107,000
12. Actuarial Science
Actuarial science applies probability, math, and statistics to quantify risk. This specialized field works mostly in the insurance industry. An actuary calculates the likelihood of something bad happening. This determines what the insurance company needs to charge to stay profitable.
An actuarial science degree is a clear path to becoming an actuary, but you can also choose a broader major. This is advisable if you want to pursue other jobs. Many actuaries have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, or business.
There is also a series of up to ten accreditation exams that an actuary must take. Luckily, entry-level actuaries only need to complete a couple before starting to work. Once working, they can continue taking them until completed.
Salary Range: $52,000-$147,000
Median Salary: $90,000
13. Software Engineering
Software engineers write code for computer programs. In today’s world, cell phones, washing machines, and even traffic lights run on software. This major was specific to the computer industry but now applies to all businesses.
Depending on the school, software engineering can be either a technology degree or an engineering degree. In all cases, it includes an in-depth study of programming and mathematics to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Software Engineer Salary:
Salary Range: $61,000-$126,000
Median Salary: $85,000
Statisticians make sense of large amounts of numerical data. They specialize in analyzing, collecting, and presenting it. Most companies use data for decision making, so this skill set applies to most industries.
Statisticians are often employed in the medical industry as biostatisticians or epidemiologists. Other common sectors of employment are government and business.
Salary Range: $57,000-$116,000
Median Salary: $77,000
15. Computer Science
Computer scientists create new technology. As technology is an advantage in all industries, computer scientists are in high demand. Graduates can find opportunities working in cybersecurity, databases, and programming.
The courses needed to earn a computer science degree vary. Typical classes are electronic design, programming, artificial intelligence, and information design. Students in computer science also need exceptional mathematics skills.
Cyber Security Analyst Salary:
Salary Range: $51,000-$117,000
Median Salary: $76,000
Database Administrator Salary:
Salary Range: $46,000-$110,000
Median Salary: $73,000
Systems Analyst Salary:
Salary Range: $46,000-$94,000
Median Salary: $66,000
Engineering is the application of scientific principles to build things and solve problems. The four main branches of engineering are chemical, civil, mechanical, and electrical. The world depends on engineers for structures and machines that keep it running. Thus engineering majors are in high demand and paid well in the private and public sectors.
16. Petroleum Engineer
Petroleum engineers discover, extract, and produce natural gas or crude oil. These engineers design complex systems and specialized equipment to make this possible. Entry-level workers may need to work on-location in remote areas for long periods. As one of the highest-paid engineering jobs, this trade-off may be worth it.
Petroleum Engineer Salary:
Salary Range: $64,000-$172,000
Median Salary: $102,000
17. Systems Engineer
As their title entails, system engineers design, install, and maintain complex systems. If engineering can solve a problem, a systems engineer owns the blueprint to make it happen. This type of engineer works in all four branches of engineering. You’ll need a graduate degree, as this field requires considerable academic training.
Systems Engineer Salary:
Salary Range: $57,000-$122,000
20. Marine Engineer
If it’s used in the water, there is a good chance that a marine engineer built it. They design, produce, and maintain ships, underwater crafts, and marine drilling equipment. Marine engineers can choose from several specializations. Naval architects build naval ships and oceanographic engineers design machines used for oceanography.
Marine Engineer Salary:
Salary Range: $58,000-$132,000
Median Salary: $80,000
19. Aeronautical Engineer
Aeronautical engineers use cutting-edge technology to build aircraft and their propulsion systems. They also work on weaponry like missiles for military crafts. Most engineers specialize in creating a single part rather than the entire plane. Aeronautical engineers can work in either the public or private sectors.
Aeronautical Engineer Salary:
Salary Range: $60,000-$131,000
Median Salary: $78,000
18. Chemical Engineer
Chemicals are the building blocks of many of the products we use in our daily lives. Chemical engineers create processes that turn them into consumer goods such as food, fuel, or clothing. You can begin a career in chemical engineering with a bachelor’s degree. However, a graduate degree may be necessary to advance.
Chemical Engineer Salary:
Salary Range: $55,000-$115,000
Median Salary: $74,000
Best College Majors – In Conclusion
In the past, having a college degree was a competitive advantage in the job market. Today more people earn a college education, so it’s a prerequisite for most careers. And the cost has risen sharply in the last decade.
It’s essential to start planning before you graduate to secure a good job and avoid stifling debt. Choosing a major that makes you eligible for a lucrative career is a wise choice that will pay dividends.