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College Majors that Make the Best Salary

Discover the top 10 college majors for high-paying jobs after graduation.

Money isn't everything, but it's nice when your college major aligns with one of the highest paying jobs.
College Majors that Make the Best Salary
You’ve heard the old saying: do what you love; love what you do. But, unfortunately, doing what you love doesn’t always lead to a lucrative career. Given that more students are graduating with debt than not, money may lead to financial freedom – which could “buy” a degree of happiness. On average, a college student graduates with roughly $29,900 in debt, according to Student Loan Hero. That may lead some potential college students to wonder if going to a four-year university is even worth it. Last year, however, research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, stated that college graduates make at least $30,000 more per year than a high school graduated, as reported by CNN. Essentially, a college degree is worth it if your career path requires it and you’re the type of student that would thrive on a college campus. At the same time, if you want to get more bang for your buck, you may want to consider a college major that will provide a higher income after graduating in order to pay off student loan debt.

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Or – you could always choose a college major that you love. It’s up to you. But to help you make a well-rounded decision, you don't need a salary calculator. Just check out the highest-paying majors below, according to Payscale. Maybe you’ll find one that you love and can provide you with financial freedom.

1. Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineers work closely with either crude oil or natural gas. Within the first five years of working in the industry, petroleum engineers can make an average of $92,300. Those with 10+ years of experience can expect to make $182,000.

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2. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

These fields of study focus on computers and electronics over a wide range of products, from software for smartphones to huge power station generators. Recent graduates can make an average of $101,200, and those with 10+ years of experience make $152,300.

3. Applied Economics and Management

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Applied Economics is applying the theories and practices of economics to the real world in order to improve people’s lives. Payscale reports that the average income for a recent graduate is $60,900 and $139,600 for an individual with 10+ years of experience.

4. Operations Research

This major essentially makes you an expert-level problem-solver. Using theory, mathematics, and simulations, operations researchers work toward improved decision-making across a variety of fields and platforms. On average, recent graduates can make an average of $78,400. Those with 10+ years of experience can expect to make around $139,600.

5. Public Accounting

Public accounting majors learn how to create, maintain, and audit a system that details the finances of an individual, business, or organization. After graduation, public accounting majors will perform audits, taxes, consultations, and accounting services, for individuals or businesses. Recent graduates can make $60,000 per year and will eventually make an average of $138,800 in their mid-career.

6. Chemical Engineering/Materials Science & Engineering

Chemical engineers take mathematical and scientific principles and apply them to the design, development, and operation of systems that use chemical processes, like chemical reactors, kinetic systems, or energy conversation processes. Upon graduation, these majors make an average of $74,500 annually and eventually $137,800 per year.

7. Quantitative Business Analysis

Business analysis is the practice of identifying business problems and solving the issues through business solutions. Those recent graduates with less than five years of experience can expect to make $67,900 and an average of $136,200 with 10+ years of experience.

8. Pharmacy

Typically, those hoping to work in the pharmaceutical setting need a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, which takes an average of six years to complete. Undergraduate majors that are suitable to a Pharm. D are biology or chemistry. Pharmacists can make around $66,300 after graduation and $133,200 after 10+ years in the field.

9. Aeronautics and Astronautics

This engineering degree highlights the principles and techniques in the conception, design, implementation, and operation of aerospace and related engineering systems. Recent graduates make an average of $74,000 and those with 10+ years’ experience in the field can expect to make an average of $133,100.

10. Systems Engineering

Systems engineering can encompass a variety of fields, like electrical, mechanical, chemical, or biological. The day-to-day work entails building, analyzing and managing a system. Recent graduates can make $74,000 per year and those in their mid-career can earn an average of $132,900. Given the rising cost of college and the fact that most students graduate with a great deal of student debt, these college choices definitely make sense. Hopefully, though, these majors are combining both a passion and a practicality, and we haven’t seen the end of doing what you love; loving what you do.

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