Career Planning

10 College Majors with the Highest Salaries for Graduates

These college majors that make the most money after graduation.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

November 15, 2023

10 College Majors with the Highest Salaries for Graduates
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High school and college students alike can benefit from knowing which college majors are paying the most. For college students, this data can help them navigate their major declaration as well as job search. For high school students, these figures can help them chart a course for their college search. Though money shouldn’t be the main motivator in choosing a job or a major, it certainly doesn’t hurt to consider how a high starting salary can help graduates pay off student loan debt, afford an apartment, and invest in future opportunities, like home ownership and retirement. The most recent data from CNBC and National Association of College Employment (NACE) shows that STEM majors are most likely to see a high salary after college graduation.

10 College Majors with the Highest Salaries for Graduates

CNBC defines the 10 highest-paying college majors as: 10. Political Science Median Salary: $86,380 An estimated 600 political scientist job opens are projected through 2032.
9. Mathematics Median Salary: $86,560 The nine-year job outlook for mathematicians is the highest on this list with an estimated growth of 30%. 8. Chemistry Median Salary: $94,680 In the next nine years, industrial engineering will grow by 6%, which is considered much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
7. Civil Engineering Median Salary: $99,660 Over the next nine years, the BLS estimates that the need for civil engineers will increase by 5%. 6. Finance Median Salary: $99,900 Employment in business and financial occupations is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations for the next nine years, according to the BLS BLS 5. General Engineering Median Salary: $100,600 The BLS estimates that 140,000 new engineering jobs will become available through 2026. 4. Economics Median Salary: $101,400 The BLS estimates 1,200 new economist jobs will become available each year. 3. Mechanical Engineering Median Salary: $106,200 Mechanical engineer jobs are expected to grow just 10% over the next nine years. 2. Computer Science Median Salary: $136,620 Of the careers on this list, Computer Science is the second fastest growing field. The BLS estimates this field will see 23% growth in the next nine years. 1. Electrical Engineering Median Salary: $121,600 Electrical engineering jobs will grow by 5% over the next 10 years, according to the BLS. From their Winter 2023 Salary Survey, NACE created a general list of fields that garner the most wages after graduation. Surprisingly, Computer Science majors’ starting salaries fell. Social Sciences majors made the list of higher-paying fields, knocking Health Professions off NACE’s previous, 2022 list. Students will find lucrative salaries in five disciplines below: 5. Social Sciences Average starting salary: $60,107 4. Business Average starting salary: $62,069 3. Mathematics & Sciences Average starting salary: $67,199 2. Computer & Information Sciences Average starting salary: $72,843 1. Engineering Average starting salary: $74,405

How to Choose a College Major

Though how much you can make after graduation is important, it’s certainly not the only factor that goes into your ultimate college major decision. You’re going to spend a couple of years studying this subject as well as working in the field for years to come, so you need to love what you do as well. But how do you pick your life’s path at age eighteen or nineteen? Some college students know exactly what it is that they want to study and do with their career after graduation, but most students do not. An estimated 20 – 50% of students begin their college career “undecided,” according to a study from Butler University. Furthermore, about 30% of college students change their major, reports the National Center for Education Statistics. Once you get to college, you will likely have to take general education courses. While you are technically fulfilling graduation requirements, these classes are also a great way to dabble in different fields. You can get a sense of what the coursework is like for a particular field. If you have the ability, take classes that also just sound interesting, like Creative Writing or Art History or Communications. These “fun courses” could eventually become your major. That’s why it’s important to fulfill your graduation requirements but also use your courses as a way to explore different majors that are out there. Most colleges don’t require you to declare a major until your second year but check with your Advisor to be certain. Though your sophomore year may feel far away as a college freshman, you need to be thinking about the kind of path you’ll chart until it’s time to declare your major. Will you only have time to take general education courses? How much flexibility do you have to be more exploratory in deciding your college major? If you don’t know what you want to major in, do a little exploration before college. What careers sound interesting to you? What do you have to study to make a path toward that career? How much of your undergrad career will you have to devote to taking classes toward your major? Additionally, you may want to look at careers and determine future income using a salary calculator. If you’re still having trouble nailing down a college major, it may be time to visit your College Career Center. They will be able to tell you which types of jobs are available to specific majors. They’ll also have details on salaries and benefits that those careers can expect. Finally, they’ll have connections. Your Campus Career Center will likely know where alumni are working and can help you network with those former students who can give you advice on choosing a major and making your way toward the field in which they currently work.

Changing Your College Major

At the same time, it’s important to note that you can change your college major if you’re unhappy in what you’re studying. In fact, many students do. You are not locked into a specific major once you declare. You can change your mind once or twice; however, you should keep in mind how this will affect your graduation timeline. It’s likely that changing your major once won’t impact your graduation date, but changing your major two or three times may push your graduation back a year or two. And that means you’ll be spending more on your college education than you originally intended, which could also lead to greater student loan debt. If you are considering a major change, meet with your Advisor. He or she will help you chart a path toward what courses you must take and when to graduate. They may also be able to impart some great advice along the way. After all, they have been advising students for years on what they should major in, how it will affect their graduation, and career outcomes after college.

A Major Decision

You have a lot to consider when choosing your college major: what will give you the type of income you desire? What type of job will satisfy you and bring you a sense of fulfillment? How will you create a path toward that career? Fortunately, there are plenty of resources along the way to help you navigate this decision, and don’t get so locked into having to choose a major that you don’t explore the breadth of courses that your college offers. College is definitely a time to hustle, but it’s also a time to discover your passions and interests. What better place to start than in the classroom?

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