Approximately 62% of United States high school graduates enroll in colleges or universities.
And if you’re reading this, you’re likely thinking of your next step in life—going to college!
The decision to go to college can be one of the best choices you make. In the next four years, you will:
- Make new friends
- Learn exciting things
- Become more independent
- Graduate as an entirely different person than when you started
However, there’s always a downside. Many colleges don’t include that you’re likely to graduate with thousands of dollars’ worth of debt. When you’re racking up that much debt, you want to pursue a college major that can get you a high paying job fast.
You may wondering: what are the best degrees for high paying jobs?
Regardless of what you may hear, a college degree does not equal financial security for the rest of your life. Earning potential varies drastically depending on the college major you choose. Sure, you should pursue a major that interests you, but you should also think about majors that will allow strong salary potential after graduation.
See Also: Most Common Colleges Majors
Here are 10 of the highest paying college majors that allow you to do just that:
Ten High Paying Majors to Consider
Interested in studying living organisms and how they all work together? Maybe a biology major is in your future.
Many individuals with a biology degree will choose to continue their education to become a doctor. However, a bachelor’s degree in biology can set you up for a pretty lucrative career. Majoring in biology can be a stepping stone into careers in:
- Laboratory management
- Health and safety administration
- Biology teacher
Biology is a vast field with many focuses. For example, you could choose subsets of biology that interest you, such as:
- Botany (the study of plant life)
- Environmental biology (the study of the natural world)
- Evolutionary biology (the study of how biology has evolved over time)
- Marine biology (the study of living organisms in large bodies of water)
- Medical biology (the study of applying new research to the human body)
- Molecular biology (the study of how cells interact on a molecular level)
Those who choose a career path with a biology degree can expect to make median salaries of around $82,000 to explore the way living organisms work.
Whether you’re interested in science or math, biology is one of the highest paying college majors you can pursue. Since it can easily be adapted to fit into your chosen industry, you can find a lucrative career path that is perfect for you.
If you’re interested in statistics, accounting, and learning about the production, distribution, and consumption of goods, why not study economics?
Economics looks at how things are produced and how they are sold around the world. It truly is a fascinating field. As an economics major, you will study:
- The way distribution works
- How supply and demand play into one another
- The ways various companies and even countries price and produce the products they sell
So what can you do with an economics degree? Here are some options:
- Financial risk analyst
- Data analyst
- Economic researcher
- Investment analyst
An economics major boasts serious earning potential. While economic majors still involve some math and science, the application of the processes are much different than in an engineering degree.
Economics can be another great option if you’re not entirely science oriented but still looking to make a decent salary after graduation. Political science majors, liberal arts majors, and those interested in business administration may also benefit from a dual college major in economics.
College students who pursue this path can expect an economics median base salary at around $105,000, making this one of the top paying majors.
See also: 35 Best Bachelor’s in Economics
8. Human Resources
Human resources is another cool major that pays well, and there is no shortage of positions. Human resource professionals are needed in every single sector including:
- Social Services
If you’re organized and good with people, a human resource major may be what you are looking for. Human resource professionals are responsible for hiring and training new employees in businesses.
A college major in human resources can pay off extremely well. Companies will pay human resource agents a lot of money to help them bring in the best candidate for open positions.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that majoring in human resources can earn someone around $136,000 a year as a human resource manager. This is a hefty pay scale for a simple job description, which includes:
- Reading resumes
- Interviewing potential candidates
- Training new employees
- Maintaining a productive work environment
If you are more people-oriented than math or science oriented, earning a bachelor’s degree in human resources can ensure you graduate with a well paying job at the end of your four-year education.
7. Computer Science
A bachelor’s degree in computer science is usually grouped with engineering, technology, and mathematics. If you’re good with computers (and excel at math), then check out computer science majors. Undoubtedly, computer science is a major that pays well.
A positive point about majoring in computer science is that technology is always evolving, so there’s always a need for these professionals. After graduating from a computer science program, you can expect to make a pretty decent salary.
What can you do with a computer science degree? The better question is: what can’t you do?
With a computer science degree, you can become a:
- Computer systems analyst
- Computer systems designer
- Security engineer
- Software publisher
- Product manager
Salaries for most computer science graduates are around $131,00 a year, with the highest 10% earning more than $208,000.
See also: Best Online Masters Degrees in Information Technology Programs
6. Electrical and Computer Engineering
Many tech CEOs and software developers earned their college degrees in electrical and computer engineering. That statement alone proves that an electrical and computer engineering is worth the investment.
So what does the electrical and computer engineering field involve? Think of it like this: electrical and computer engineers are at the forefront of the latest technology research. They create, design, and develop new products, and there is never a dull moment in this field!
Computer and electrical engineering covers a wide range of areas, such as:
- Computers and digital systems
- Energy conversion
- Electromagnetic scattering
- Chip design
- Multimedia systems
The focus of this college major is on designing safer or more productive ways of doing things that can genuinely help people. Imagine being someone who creates robots that can perform surgery. Or someone who develops electric-powered cars.
Those who graduate from a computer and electrical engineering program can go on to make around $102,000 as a median salary, making it one of our highest paying college majors.
5. Electronics and Communications Engineering
If you know electronics like the back of your hand and are always helping others fix their devices, check out the electronics and communications engineering major. Electronics and communications engineering cover electronic devices, circuits, transmitters, and more.
As an electronics and communications engineering student, you will need to take classes in:
- Electrical networks
- Semiconductor devices
- Digital communications
Everything in this field relates to the way we store and retrieve energy and electricity.
Electronics and communications engineers often move on to work in areas such as:
- The broadcast industry
- Radio or television
After graduating from an electronics and communications engineering program, you can expect to find a job in electronics engineering earning a median salary of $102,000 per year.
If you’re one year or so into college and you want to pursue a more lucrative career, consider switching your major.
4. Chemical Engineering
The engineering world continues to dominate the top of the list with chemical engineering.
Chemical engineering is a perfect college major if you enjoy science, math, and design. Most universities offer areas of specialization, such as:
- Material science
- Textile technology
Chemical engineers often find rewarding jobs working in gas and oil. For example, chemical engineers can find jobs in labs and on exploration rigs. Professionals in this industry often have the opportunity to travel for work and live all around the world, including California, Alaska, and Europe, to name a few.
Chemical engineers may also pursue jobs in:
- Food and drink
- Plastics and metals
- Fibers and polymers
The chemical engineers of the world help us create new materials and products, and you could be one of them.
Chemical engineering majors can take a number of paths after graduation in industries all over the world while still expecting a median salary of $121,840. Chemical engineering is one of the most profitable majors out there.
3. Nuclear Engineering
With engineering degrees taking up half of this list, it’s no surprise that another branch of engineering would come in the top three. Nuclear engineering is among the majors that make the most money.
Nuclear engineering deals with working with nuclear energy in settings such as:
- Nuclear power plants
- Medical diagnostic equipment
- Nuclear weapons
- Food production
A huge perk of majoring in nuclear engineering is that you can work in any field. For example, nuclear engineers work at:
- Hospitals and healthcare clinics
- Government institutions
- National laboratories
Individuals who graduate with a nuclear engineering degree can expect to find new ways to use radiation in the medical world, create nuclear reactors, and find ways to dispose of nuclear waste while maintaining the safety of the environment.
Nuclear engineering majors may not make as much post-graduation as those who declare our #1 highest-paying major, but they can still expect to find an entry-level job with a starting salary of around $67,000 with only their bachelor’s degree. The median salary of nuclear engineers is currently $120,380, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2. Actuarial Mathematics
A bachelor’s degree in actuarial mathematics can set students up for many different job titles in math. Not to mention it’s a degree that pays well.
However, what is actuarial mathematics, exactly?
Actuarial mathematics is an interdisciplinary area that covers:
The main focus of an actuarial mathematics degree is to prepare students to use math to measure and account for financial risks in insurance and businesses. There are multiple subfields in actuarial mathematics such as finance, physics, and statistics.
So, what type of careers does an actuarial mathematics degree lead to? Some of those jobs include:
- Market research analyst
If you love math and hold strong analytical skills, a college major in actuarial mathematics can open a lot of doors for the future, all with high paying salaries.
While the highest paid job of these options is as an actuary, graduates of an actuarial mathematics program can expect to make at least $60,000 post-graduation without the need to go to graduate school. Actuaries earn an average salary of $106,000 annually.
It’s also important to note that actuary jobs are growing rapidly at a rate of 24%, which is much faster than average.
1. Highest Paying Major: Petroleum Engineering
While studying any field of engineering can set you up for a high paying career, petroleum engineers are in particularly high demand.
Petroleum engineering majors, the highest paying college major, go on to hold jobs in gas and oil production and areas with similar products and services. Specifically, petroleum engineering deals with crude oil:
As a petroleum engineering major, you will study all sorts of areas such as:
- Heat transfer
Clearly, earning a degree in petroleum engineering will require a lot of science and math classes, but if you can excel in those areas, you may find yourself with a starting salary of over $100,000 after graduation. You won’t even need to continue your education beyond your bachelor’s degree to excel in this field. (Unless, of course, you want to continue with a master’s degree!)
Salary.com reports that with an entry-level job, you can start out at making between $76,807 – $80,786. The median salary for petroleum engineers is currently $131,000 per year.
Declare a High Paying Major as Your Major
Many people pursue college majors purely based on passion and interest. We get that. You want to go into a field that interests you.
Yet the smartest thing to do is choose something that interests you, but also guarantees a high average salary and large earning potential. College degrees that pay well are worth the investment.
It’s already hard enough finding a job in the real-world economy. Choosing one of the highest paying majors can make it much easier to thrive in the job market instead of barely scraping by. For more help finding the best school for you, visit College Rank.