Top 10 US college majors that lead to highest pay

A vintage 1960s photo of a woman wearing a crown.

With the right college major in place to maximize earnings, anyone can live like a king or queen. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Linda/The Paper Collector)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of the average starting salaries from various career paths. In order to maximize your earning potential, forget majors like English and consider the top 10 highest paying college majors in the U.S., advises Education-Portal.com. Salaries depicted here reflect annual pay for bachelor’s graduates without an advanced degree.

Grease the rails to cash: Become a petroleum engineer

Whether it’s building tools to improve oil and gasoline production or consulting on projects for petroleum companies, becoming a petroleum engineer pays. The median starting salary is $93,000, which increases to a median of $157,000 by mid-career (15 years, approximately).

Taking off with an aerospace engineering career

Air and space travel will be in your hands with an aerospace engineering degree. Operate and troubleshoot flight simulators and navigational instruments. Analyze flight data and apply it to the design of future aircraft. If you go for this degree, you’ll earn $59,400 to start, $108,000 by mid-career.

Better living through chemical engineering

Plastics, synthetic rubber, detergents, paper, gasoline and more are manufactured and made better by chemical engineers, who use techniques from chemistry, engineering and physics to make the products we depend upon every day. Starting median salary is $64,800, $108,000 by mid-career.

Get turned on to electrical engineering

Electrical equipment and systems for industry, government and science are the domain of electrical engineers. Median starting pay is $60,800 and $104,000 by mid-career.

Nuclear engineering is a tough job

The recent disaster in Japan underscores just how difficult it can be to work in nuclear engineering, but the intellectual challenges and pay are worth the trouble. Controlling and releasing nuclear energy and waste remain significant in the quest to power the world. Earn $63,900 to start, and in 15 years, the median salary is $104,000.

Learn applied mathematics

Applied mathematics apply to myriad career fields, including data mining, economics, environmental science and climatology, says the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The median starting salary is $56,400, which goes up to about $101,000 by mid-career.

Biomedical engineering continues the science/tech trend

Biotechnology and health care are huge growth industries right now, considering the number of retiring baby boomers in the U.S. Creating medical information systems, building artificial limbs and organs and managing care delivery are vital processes. Salary begins at $54,800 and hits $101,000 by mid-career.

The physics of a career

While advanced positions typically require a graduate degree, a bachelor’s degree in physics can prepare graduates for technician and research assistant positions. Pay starts at $50,700 and reaches $99,600 by mid-career.

Computer engineering: Start high and plateau

While a computer engineering degree may enable a graduate to start high at $61,200 median, the mid-career range ($99,500) indicates that salaries plateau quickly. Plus, there’s a great deal of competition due to the steady supply of graduates. Luckily, the demand isn’t going to go away.

Want to know money? Try economics

An economics degree applies to a variety of business and financial fields, although a master’s or doctorate are typically needed to secure an economic analyst position in business or government. Pay begins at $48,800 and hits $97,800 after 15 years.

Sources

Ask the Advisor

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education-Portal.com

Or you could follow your dreams and be poor

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