The independent, trusted guide to online education for over 24 years!

College Majors that Lead to the Highest Paying Jobs

Two architect working at construction site and compass drawing pointing on blueprint with partnership.

We’re in the information age. And to live up to par with the corporate world, one must find an area of interest, deepen their level of insight in that field and obtain a degree as proof of expertise. But passion and interest can’t be the only factors that inform our decision to get a college major or any other degree of interest. When selecting a major, you might consider what are the best college majors that lead to highest-paying jobs.

Before considering a college education, it is wise to determine the financial prospect from a futuristic viewpoint. In other words, before making your decision, you should answer the question: How high is the demand for this college major in the professional world? What is the starting salary of graduates with this college major?

Researching to determine the financial security that a college degree holds before registering is well worth the time.

Most careers with high earning potential will require an academic degree to prove your expertise. But not all degrees have the same earning potential.

According to Payscale’s data, STEM degrees remain at the top of the list of college majors with the highest paying salaries. This also includes jobs that are in high demand. STEM degrees are those that focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

So do you want to find out the highest-paid bachelor’s degree jobs? Here are the 11 best college degrees with the highest earning potential in the professional world.

College Majors with the Best Starting Salaries

1. Petroleum Engineering

Studying to get a Petroleum Engineering major will involve sitting for countless mathematics classes and other science courses. The goal of these classes is to give you a broad understanding of relevant knowledge that will be essential during fieldwork and other professional activities.

As a petroleum engineering student, you will need a surface-level understanding of mechanical engineering, environmental studies, and economics. A petroleum engineer must have advanced knowledge of oil and gas drilling equipment and soil excavation techniques.

From the professional angle, a petroleum engineer may work with big, competitive industries like British Petroleum, Exxon, Mobil, Chevron Corporation, etc.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor (BLS), the Petroleum Engineering profession has a growth projection of 8% from 2020 to 2030. 

Aside from the exciting experience of traveling for fieldwork on oil rigs and industrial sites, petroleum engineers can also work in the finance/accounting department. This less “mechanical” aspect of petroleum engineering is where the knowledge of economics becomes applicable. The job description of petroleum engineering in office positions may involve simulation studies on equipment to identify possible mishaps or malfunction in the field. After identifying these potential problems, the engineer takes appropriate measures to solve the issues ahead of time using the necessary engineering technique.

Becoming a petroleum engineer is interesting, with a competitive median salary of $137,330 as of May 2020.

Other engineering college majors with high-paying jobs prospects are nuclear, electrical, and chemical engineering.

Related Resource: How to Become an Engineer: Education, Licensing, & Salary

2. Actuarial Mathematics

If you’re passionate about financial analysis, data collation, and research, then consider getting a major in actuarial mathematics. Actuarial mathematics is one of the top degrees in demand for the future because companies and organizations need practical financial predictions about future outcomes in their line of business. In most scenarios, the job of an actuary involves assessing the risk level in a financial step or decision made by the executives.

Other job descriptions of an actuary may also involve:

  • Collecting data from different departments of an organization.
  • Developing concrete proposals for partnership opportunities.
  • Effectively managing collaboration among staff members.

Other operational duties may include designing financial plans, pension funding, and annuities.

As an Actuarial Mathematics student, you’ll learn stochastic modeling, life insurance mathematics, econometrics, and other business topics.

Because a graduate in actuarial mathematics has deep knowledge of insurance policies, you’ll quickly find jobs in insurance companies.

According to BLS, the median pay of a college graduate in Actuarial Mathematics is $111,030 per year, with a job outlook of 24%. 

Now, are you good with statistical analysis? Do you love math? If yes, actuarial mathematics is your best bet!

Related Resource: How to Become an Actuary: Degree Requirements & Certification Exams

GetEducated Sponsored Programs

View More Mathematics Degrees

3. Applied Economics and Management

Applied Economics and Management is another college major in the finance industry with opportunities for high-paying jobs. A student in applied economics and management will study economics, financial case studies, and business policies. These will help them properly conduct financial assessments, compile relevant business data for studies, and check them for problems and loopholes –with the intent of providing practical answers through already-established economic theories.

As an applied economics and management graduate, you will use your knowledge of macroeconomics and econometrics to solve real-world problems. Your goal is to use your wealth of knowledge and expertise to model business policies for better performance and financial profitability. One good thing about being an applied economist is that it is a broad field of study and easily accommodates other disciplines. Because of that, a graduate of applied economics and management can take up job positions like:

  • Financial Analyst
  • Market Researcher
  • Statistician

Graduates of applied economics and management are in high demand in the professional world. It has a median salary of $108,350 per year, with an estimated growth rate of 13%.

GetEducated Sponsored Programs

View More Finance & Economics Degrees

4. Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineering is a broad field of study in engineering. Therefore, obtaining a college major will require specialization. You’ll study all that pertains to nuclear physics and mathematical calculations. Another lucrative area of specialization in nuclear engineering is the study of safety practices and techniques around unstable energy.

Obtaining a major in nuclear engineering requires hard work and rigorous studies, but the financial rewards are equally huge.

A graduate in nuclear engineering can expect a starting salary of about $67,000 a year. And this is just for a bachelor’s degree. According to BLS, the median pay as of 2020 is $116,140 per year.

Individuals who wish to hold critical positions and receive higher pay as their starting salaries can study further for higher degrees. With a master’s degree or Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, the financial chances are higher.

GetEducated Sponsored Programs

View More Nuclear Engineering Degrees

5. Computer Science

Computer science offers most of the best bachelor’s degree jobs. Globalization cannot be separated from technological advancement. And there’s nothing involving tech or “going digital” that won’t require the services of a computer scientist.

Individuals and top organizations worldwide are making a significant shift towards cyberspace, which will require the management of computer science graduates.

A graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science can work as a software developer, computer programmer, web designer, cybersecurity personnel, and more. Computer Science is among the highest-paid majors in the world currently, and it offers graduates so many opportunities and employment benefits. One of which is the freedom to work remotely.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, Computer Science jobs are expected to grow by 13% leaving about 667,600 job openings annually between 2020 and 2030. In May 2020, the median salary of a Computer Scientist was $91,250.

It’s safe to say that studying Computer Science in college is one of the first steps towards having a lucrative career after graduation.

Related Resource: 22 STEM Majors for High Paying Careers

GetEducated Sponsored Programs

View More Computer Science Degrees

6. Business Administration

Have you ever dreamed of managing a fortune 500 company? Do you have innovative business ideas that you would love to implement and bring to life? A degree in Business Administration might be all the preparation you need. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics report, Business Administration is one of the most popular college majors. 

The versatility of Business Administration makes it one of the most in-demand degrees. Private and public business ventures will use the skills and experience gained from a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median annual income of entry-level graduates of Business and Financial occupation at $72,250 in 2020. 

Business Administration is a versatile degree that pays well. And because of its versatility, it can serve as a launchpad to more specialized careers in finance. By 2030 according to BLS, there would be an 8% growth rate in the field and at least 750,800 business-related jobs.

Related Resource: The 19 Highest Paying Business Degree Jobs

7. Nursing

It’s no surprise that Nursing made it in our list of best college majors with the highest paying degrees. The heavy impact of the COVID pandemic on the world has increased the demand for this set of primary health caregivers, making them one of the most employable degrees globally.

If you love people and believe medicine can help them, you should consider studying nursing as your college major. Nursing is an in-demand career choice and is one of the highest-paying bachelor’s degrees in 2021.

According to the report put out by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certified nurses of 2021 take home a median salary of $75,330 annually. Some more specialized areas of the nursing profession topple that figure with a median annual salary of up to $183,000. 

The salary structure of a nurse depends on several factors, such as location and specialty.  

According to the BLS, nursing ranks among the top degrees in demand for the future with a projected 9% growth rate in the next decade. Begin by identifying the aspect of nursing you want to major in, the educational requirements, and then go ahead to pursue your dreams.

GetEducated Sponsored Programs

View More Nursing Degrees

8. Accounting

Are you business-oriented with a good understanding of financial management and bookkeeping? You can follow your passion by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Accounting is one of the degrees that pay well. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s an estimated 7% growth between 2020 and 2030 for this career choice. That’s very promising! An entry-level Accountant could make a median salary of $73,560 yearly, as stated by the BLS.

The accounting professionals run financial audits, manage payrolls, lodge tax returns, and provide professional financial advice to business owners. 

Studying accounting with a college major gives you the flexibility to work in various finance departments. It also enables you to work in key business administrative positions. The limitless possibilities of organizations where an accountant can work make it one of the best bachelor’s degrees to get.

GetEducated Sponsored Programs

View More Accounting Degrees

9. Cybersecurity

With the increased internet use and rapid technological advancement comes the greater responsibility of securing the space for all to avoid cyberattacks, theft, and identity fraud. 

If you are a tech enthusiast or want to keep the digital world safe, a degree in cybersecurity is a great choice. Cybersecurity is not yet highly competitive because it’s not saturated like other tech-based professions. Therefore, this is the best time to start a career in cybersecurity. 

For those contemplating studying for a bachelor’s degree that is high in-demand, Cyber Security would be a viable option. An independent report by Cybersecurity Ventures records over 3.5 million Cybersecurity job vacancies in 2021, and the figures will keep growing. The BLS confirms an annual median salary of $103,590 as of 2020 for Cybersecurity. The growth percentage of this job stands at a towering 33% in the next decade.

Cybersecurity is undoubtedly a degree with excellent earning potential. Cybersecurity is relevant in every organization that uses the internet to generate revenue or store company data. The job of a cybersecurity agent is to operate as a guard by mounting security protocols against unauthorized intrusions and assessing all computer devices for synchronous connection. As long as there is a need for data protection, there’ll always be a need for cybersecurity graduates.

GetEducated Sponsored Programs

View More Cybersecurity Degrees

10. Human Resources

Human Resource is one of the best college majors that can offer you career opportunities and earning potential. 

In a most recent study, the average salary expectation of Human Resources Personnel in the U.S is $107,127 annually. BLS holds the salary to be $121,220 with a 9% growth rate in the next decade. 

Many organizations and institutions realize the necessity of having a Human Resources Manager to help them maximize employees’ full potential, implement plans or programs, oversee the recruitment process, manage staff compensation packages, and a host of other responsibilities.

There are many opportunities in this field, and a host of related certifications can prepare you for other administrative positions in governmental and non-profit organizations. 

An HR expert can work full-time for an organization or freelance. Whatever decision you make begins with applying for a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources programs. 14,800 Human Resources jobs open up daily, which indicates the urgent need for HR professionals in our present world.

Companies need HR experts to take up professional management and development roles in their organizations. This is why Human Resource Management is one of the highest-paying college majors that one can acquire.

11. Finances

As long as people continue to exchange goods or services at a price, finance-related professions will never go out of demand. 

Financial managers perform a wide range of duties for diverse organizations. Chief amongst these duties is the preparation of accurate financial reports, budget drafting, and planning. 

To begin a fulfilling career in Finances, you would first have to complete a bachelor’s degree in any finance-related course from a reputable institution. 

In 2020 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded about 681,700 job openings for a Finance Manager, estimating a 17% employment increase from 2020 to 2030. According to BLS, the average salary of anyone in the Finance sector is $134,180 as of 2020. 

Finance is the live-wire of every establishment. A bachelor’s degree affords you the possibility to work in highly-rated organizations with a competitive salary. One advantage of finance majors is that they’re not institution-specific like those in the medical or engineering field. Finance degrees are recognized across country borders. There’s also the freedom of diversifying and branching out to other aspects of the finance-related profession.

If you have chosen this career path, prepare to join professional finance bodies, undergo specialized training, attend career development seminars to boost your chances of excelling in this field. The stakes are high, but the journey is exciting, and the career is rewarding.

When choosing a career you are passionate about, remember to consider the earning potential and career opportunities.