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10 Highest & Lowest Paying College Majors

10 Highest & Lowest Paying College Majors

The majors ranked are according to the full list of 129 majors by salary potential on Payscale.

Elizabeth Hoyt

June 03, 2014

In this day and age, college is often considered a necessary investment in one’s future. But, are some students – perhaps even attending the same colleges – making better investments than others?

Unbelievably, the answer may be yes, depending on their chosen majors.

According to PayScale’s list of college majors and coordinating salary potential, certain majors pay off much faster, with much higher salary potential than others.

Starting salary refers to graduates who typically have two years of experience while mid-career salary refers to graduates who have 15 years of experience.

The majors ranked are according to the full list of 129 majors by salary potential on Payscale.

You can learn more about the methodology used here.

According to PayScale, here are the top ten highest (jump to highest paying) and ten lowest paying (jump to lowest paying) college majors which are ranked based upon salary potential.

Top 10 Highest Paying College Majors

10. Mechanical Engineering (ME)
Starting Salary: $60,900
Mid-Career Salary: $99,700

9. Physics
Starting Salary: $53,100
Mid-Career Salary: $101,000

8. Computer Science (CS)
Starting Salary: $59,800
Mid-Career Salary: $102,000

6. TIE – Computer Engineering (CE)
Starting Salary: $65,300
Mid-Career Salary: $106,000

6. TIE – Electrical Engineering (EE)
Starting Salary: $64,300
Mid-Career Salary: $106,000

5. Aerospace Engineering
Starting Salary: $62,800
Mid-Career Salary: $109,000

4. Chemical Engineering
Starting Salary: $68,200
Mid-Career Salary: $115,000

3. Nuclear Engineering
Starting Salary: $67,600
Mid-Career Salary: $117,000

2. Actuarial Mathematics
Starting Salary: $58,700
Mid-Career Salary: $120,000

1. Petroleum Engineering
Starting Salary: $103,000
Mid-Career Salary: $160,000

Bottom 10 Lowest Paying College Majors

10. Culinary Arts
Actual List Rank: 120 out of 129
Starting Salary: $34,800
Mid-Career Salary: $51,100

9. Exercise Science
Actual List Rank: 121 out of 129
Starting Salary: $32,600
Mid-Career Salary: $51,000

8. Horticulture
Actual List Rank: 122 out of 129
Starting Salary: $35,200

7. Biblical Studies
Actual List Rank: 123 out of 129
Starting Salary: $35,400
Mid-Career Salary: $50,800

6. Special Education
Actual List Rank: 124 out of 129
Starting Salary: $33,800
Mid-Career Salary: $49,600

5. Human Development

Actual List Rank: 125 out of 129
Starting Salary: $35,900
Mid-Career Salary: $48,000

4. Athletic Training
Actual List Rank: 126 out of 129
Starting Salary: $34,800
Mid-Career Salary: $46,900

3. Social Work (SW)

Actual List Rank: 127 out of 129
Starting Salary: $33,000
Mid-Career Salary: $46,600

2. Elementary Education
Actual List Rank: 128 out of 129
Starting Salary: $32,200
Mid-Career Salary: $45,300

1. Child & Family Studies
Actual List Rank: 129 out of 129
Starting Salary: $30,300
Mid-Career Salary: $37,200


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