Ten Highest Paying Majors

March 18th, 2013 by Bryanna Davis

A report recently released by NACE, the National Association of College Employers, has detailed the ten highest paying majors in the United States. The study measures these majors with top pay by looking at the average starting salary for a newly hired employee. Here’s the full list:

  1. Computer Engineering
  2. Chemical Engineering
  3. Computer Science
  4. Aerospace/Aeronautics/Aeronautical Engineering
  5. Mechanical Engineering
  6. Electric/Electronics and Communications Engineering
  7. Civil Engineering
  8. Finance
  9. Construction Science/Management
  10. Information Sciences Systems

Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of these ten highest paying majors come out of the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There are a few major reasons for this.

First off, STEM fields are many of the vital forces that drive our world today – the influx of computer and web technology in day-to-day life, for example, makes jobs in the above categories of Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Information Sciences Systems significantly more important than they were even a few short years ago.

Another main reason that most of these majors with top pay come from the STEM fields is that relatively few students choose to pursue these majors over the more popular ones in liberal arts, making the actual STEM-field graduates very hot commodities for employers desperate to hire workers with the appropriate expertise.

Does this mean that you should go into one of these fields just because it’s one of the ten highest paying majors in the United States once you snag that first job? Certainly not. But some planning ahead and honest soul-searching in your pre-college and early college years can help you consider what you’d really like to do and see if any of the above majors is in fact something that inspires you.

Also keep in mind that it’s never too late to shift gears into one of these ten highest paying majors if you decide that it is indeed the right thing for you. Even if you’re already finished with your undergraduate education, there are various ways such as grad school and community college that you can use to get you started on a major career change.

If one of the above majors sounds like a good choice for you, make the commitment, study hard, and be ready to land a great job once you join the workforce!

Top Paying Undergraduate Majors

March 26th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

As we previously reported, the cost of education has been on the rise for some time now. Especially as US state budgets are cut, colleges and universities are shifting their expenses to the student. Many students – be it US citizens or international students – are looking for ways to finance their education from scholarships to grants to loans. But you may wonder if your education is worth the cost.

While this question has to be individually evaluated and answered, a good starting point is to look at the expected income based on your major (which is your specialization in college or at a university). The path you select will train you in a specific field, which will ultimately determine your job prospects, and thus, your salary.

Not surprisingly, 13 out of the top 20 highest paying positions – whether looking at starting pay or mid-career pay – is engineering. Below is a graph outlining the top paying undergraduate majors in the US:

Looking at these results, it is no wonder why the second most popular field for international students is engineering followed by math and computer science (which ranked third) and then physical and life sciences (which ranked fourth). In fact, it is clear from the data that top paying undergraduate majors that prove more technical in nature are compensated accordingly. Below is a table that reflect the true figures from the graph above:

Starting Median Pay* Mid-Career Median Pay*
Petroleum Engineering $97,900 $155,000
Chemical Engineering $64,500 $109,000
Electrical Engineering (EE) $61,300 $103,000
Materials Science & Engineering $60,400 $103,000
Aerospace Engineering $60,700 $102,000
Computer Engineering (CE) $61,800 $101,000
Physics $49,800 $101,000
Applied Mathematics $52,600 $98,600
Computer Science (CS) $56,600 $97,900
Nuclear Engineering $65,100 $97,800
Biomedical Engineering (BME) $53,800 $97,800
Economics $47,300 $94,700
Mechanical Engineering (ME) $58,400 $94,500
Statistics $49,000 $93,800
Industrial Engineering (IE) $57,400 $93,100
Civil Engineering (CE) $53,100 $90,200
Mathematics $47,000 $89,900
Environmental Engineering $51,700 $88,600
Management Information Systems (MIS) $51,000 $88,200
Software Engineering $54,900 $87,800

*All data was collected from PayScale Salary Survey for full-time employees in the United States who possess a Bachelor’s degree (and no further degree) in order to determine which were the top paying undergraduate majors.

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