Career Planning

College Majors that Make the Best Salary

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

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. 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 CNBC. 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 $94,500. Those with 10+ years of experience can expect to make $176,900.

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 $88,000, and those with 10+ years of experience make $142,200.

3. Applied Economics and Management

Applied Economics is applying the theories and practices of economics to the real world in order to improve people’s lives. CNBC reports that the average income for a recent graduate is $58,900 and $140,000 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 $77,900. Those with 10+ years of experience can expect to make around $137,100.

5. Political Economy

This particular major is a combination of political science and economics. Students study the social, political, and economic factors that are affected by systems of production, exchange, and distribution. Recent graduates can make $56,600 and those with 10+ years of experience can earn an average of $135,100.

6. Actuarial Mathematics

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to assess the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. A recent graduate with a degree in actuarial mathematics can expect to make $63,300, and an individual with 10+ years of experience makes roughly $135,100.

7. Electrical Power Engineering

This type of engineering deals with the generation, transmission, distribution and utilization of electric power. According to CNBC, an electrical power engineer can make $72,400 within five years after graduation and $134,700 after 10+ years of experience in the field.

8. 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 $57,200 and an average of $132,500 with 10+ years of experience.

9. 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 $79,600 after graduation and $132,500 after 10+ years in the field.

10. 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 $73,100 and those with 10+ years’ experience in the field can expect to make an average of $131,600. 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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