College Majors That Earn The Most

money making college majors

If the stagnant job market has an upside, it may be this: college students (and likely their parents) are taking a hard look at which degrees will result in lasting, good paying jobs.

Unfortunately for art and history majors, the best money-making careers these days are in more pragmatic fields, focused on math and the sciences, according to a recent report by PayScale.

The employment-information website recently compiled a list of the 10 best-paying college majors, derived from data supplied by 1.5 million graduates who hold only a bachelor's degree from a U.S. college or university.

The findings, not surprisingly, are similar to those published in a recent report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, which found that college majors "linked to occupations have better employment prospects than majors focused on general skills."

Still, the Georgetown report, titled "Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal," finds that while all college majors aren't created equal "college remains the best alternative for young workers."

Interested in learning which college majors offer the best money-making opportunities? Check out PayScale's list of Best Majors for Making Money below.


10. Statistics

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $99,500*
  • Job Growth Outlook (through 2020): 16 percent (about as fast as average).**

Find a job in statistics.


9. Computer Science

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $100,000
  • Job Growth Outlook (through 2020): 19 percent (about as fast as average).


Find a job in computer science
.

8. Applied Mathematics

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $102,000
  • Job Growth Outlook (through 2020): 16 percent (about as fast as average).


Find a job in applied mathematics
.

7. Computer Engineering

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $105,000
  • Job Growth Outlook (through 2020): 9 percent (slower than average).


Find a job in computer engineering
.

6. Electrical Engineering

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $106,000
  • Job Growth Outlook (through 2020): 6 percent (slower than average).


Find a job in electrical engineering
.

5. Nuclear Engineering

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $107,000
  • Job Growth Outlook (through 2020): 10 percent (about as fast as average).


Find a job in nuclear engineering
.

4. Chemical Engineering

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $111,000
  • Job Growth Outlook: 6 percent (slower than average).


Find a job in chemical engineering
.

3. Actuarial Mathematics

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $112,000
  • Job Growth Outlook: 16 percent (about as fast as average).


Find a job in actuarial mathematics
.

2. Aerospace Engineering

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $118,000
  • Job Growth Outlook: 5 percent (slower than average).


Find a job in aerospace engineering
.

1. Petroleum Engineering

  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $163,000
  • Job Growth Outlook: 24 percent (about as fast as average)


Find a job in petroleum engineering
.

*Mid-Career Median Salary: Compiled by PayScale. Half of the mid-career employees who are graduates of a school will earn more than this salary, while half will earn less. Salaries listed are for full-time employees with only a bachelor's degree and no further higher education.

**Job Growth Outlook: As published in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. The projected rate of change in employment during the 10 years ending 2020. The average growth rate for all occupations is 14 percent.






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14 Comments

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Michael Keohane

Nothing new here. When I entered college in 1965, the various career fields and their financial rewards were well known. What was just beginning to appear was the "New Age" majors - "Black Studies," "Women's Studies" and others. At first, these new majors benefitted from the common idea that all college degrees were equal. That had been so in the past. Every major required a core that was a standard with the major field added so a person who majored in Ancient Etruscan Art had completed the same standard core as a business major and would be equally valuable to an employer. Without the standard core, those "New Age" majors graduated people that were barely employable.

October 20 2012 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
plewdawg

Was I mistaken or is teh woman with the hardhat on in the photo carrying a....................BINDER?

October 20 2012 at 8:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
murkystarlight

I smell bullshit.

October 20 2012 at 6:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andy Shick

Do pharmacy school, it'll pay more than most of these. But a 6-year doctorate (6 years total college/grad school) is required. The final year is entirely rotations though, so only 5 years of classes.

October 19 2012 at 8:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bryant Crawford

The laughable and sad thing is America is losing ground rapidly in math and sciences.

Teachers aren't there and the ones who are sticking around can't teach it. They've got to be creative, give a kid a reason to learn these subjects and have an interest, make it fun, if you have too. That's your job make it exciting.

October 19 2012 at 7:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
bossmanvern

I'm an unemployed college graduate with degrees in Human Factors Engineering, M.S. & B.S. and a B.S. in Psychology and certificates in Environmental Science (Water & Waste Water operator in training), and finally a certificate in Bio-Science. I worked in a automotive assembly plant for sixteen years that closed.

October 19 2012 at 7:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hdgoose

This is not true. Engineers are being outsourced to India and China by the droves. I know a lot of engineers either looking for work; or making a lot less than they were a couple years ago.

October 19 2012 at 5:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Janie

I think following the path of an Obama would be much better. It seems that going into politics today can guarantee a lifetime of wealth.

October 19 2012 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ga7smi

whoever came up with this list is not in touch with reality

October 19 2012 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
srszee

So basically, if you're not a math person and am more a fine arts person, you're screwed! LOL!

October 19 2012 at 3:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to srszee's comment
chris44107

I have a degree in fine arts (painting) and that hasn't prevented me from getting a job in a field that is heavily math oriented. And it has not prevented me from painting and exhibiting my art. Math aptitude and an art aptitude are not mutually exclusive. Many accomplished musicians that I've met are excellent in math, computers, and engineering, and usually hold 9-5 jobs in fields that require those skills. Some of it depends on the individual - I have a friend with an BA in English who is a VP of a manufacturing company, a classically trained musician who spent his career in IT, an art major who is now a nurse, as well as, believe it or not, an anthropologist who works as an anthropologist. But these are highly intelligent people who are also flexible in terms of the jobs they are willing to do. They are not limited by the idea that their college major defines their entire life's work.

October 19 2012 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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