32 Best College Majors to Pursue in 2023: Salary & Job Growth Data

32 Best College Majors to Pursue in 2023: Salary & Job Growth Data
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The relationship between career choices and long-term earnings is a well-studied topic, and a commonly held belief (Kim et al., 2018). As a result, college students tend to lean toward majors that promise higher-paying jobs in the future. Alongside other important factors, the job market prospects and a median salary of a particular major play a significant role in students’ decision-making process of choosing the best major for them (Carnevale et al., 2015).

Labor market information has a significant effect on college students’ decision-making process in choosing a college major (Baker et al., 2018). Typically, students look for information on what majors are most in-demand for at least the next 10 years. This would not only aid the students in choosing a major but would also assure them amid the uncertainty of future job prospects.

This article provides a list of the best college majors based on future market projections and the median annual wage for each major as provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Best College Majors Table of Contents

  1. Computer Engineering
  2. Actuarial Science
  3. Computer Science
  4. Management
  5. Electronics Engineering
  6. Healthcare Administration
  7. Health Informatics
  8. Construction Management
  9. Management Information System
  10. Mathematics
  11. Biomedical Engineering
  12. Information Technology
  13. Mechanical Engineering
  14. Statistics
  15. Industrial Engineering
  16. Civil Engineering
  17. Economics
  18. Chemistry
  19. Public Administration
  20. Computer Graphics – Game Design
  21. Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  22. Nursing
  23. Accounting
  24. Physics
  25. Business Administration
  26. Finance
  27. Social Science
  28. Marketing
  29. Human Resources
  30. Public Relations
  31. Communications
  32. Education

The Future Job Market

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment will grow by 11.9 million in 2030. For 2021 the agency published two separate projections—one considered all jobs while the second excluded “occupations with above-average cyclical recovery” or those industries that have been largely affected by the pandemic. The list of college majors presented in this article is based on the second list.

A study by Gong et al. (2019) on the “Uncertainty about future income: Initial beliefs and resolution during college,” focused on how the earnings uncertainty of college students are resolved during college. Based on their study published in The Journal of the Econometric Society, the authors found that “large amounts (of uncertainty) would tend to be resolved if: (1) the substantial dispersion found in realized earnings is indicative of substantial amounts of uncertainty at the time of college entrance, and (2) much of this initial uncertainty is resolved during college as students learn about earnings-influencing factors.”

While uncertainty is always present, the list provided in this article of the best college majors aims to help students in deciding which major to pursue based on future job market projections. While students’ choice of major is a highly complex process influenced by many factors, having the right information is crucial to minimize the potential risks.

Source: World Economic Forum

The Best College Majors

1. Computer Engineering

  • Median salary (2020): $93,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 5%

Computer engineering majors are trained in computer science and electrical engineering, and they deal with both the hardware and software aspects of computer system design and development. Majors of computer engineering receive a broad skillset that combines mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, electrical circuits, engineering economics, algorithms, programming, and computer organization.

Coursework typically integrates both the software and hardware aspects of computer architecture and digital design. Majors in this field may pursue paths as big data engineers, machine learning engineers, blockchain developers, and computer network architects, among others.

2. Actuarial Science

Median salary (2020): $72,000
Growth projection through 2030: 24% 

Actuarial science majors are trained in statistics, mathematics, and economic techniques that enable them to quantify risk. They use mathematical skills to define, analyze, and solve financial and social problems related to social security, employee benefits, and other related fields. Actuarial science majors are trained to determine the rates for home, car, and life insurance.

Actuarial science majors have a broad background in mathematics, business administration, economics, accounting finance, and computer science. They eventually work for insurance companies, employee benefits consulting firms, government agencies, and investment firms. They may also take on the role of business analysts, budget analysts, insurance underwriters or claims adjusters, fund managers, and management consultants.

3. Computer Science

  • Median salary (2020): $90,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 22%

Jobs in computing is considered among the best as it is often at the core of technological innovation. The typical coursework of computer science majors includes problem-solving with databases, computer ethics, theoretical foundations of computing, and digital storytelling. Computer science majors are highly-analytical.

Computer science majors may become software administrators, computer hardware engineers, database administrators, network architects, systems analysts, security analysts, and web developers, among other roles.

4. Management

  • Median salary (2020): $68,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 9%

While both business administration and business management involve overseeing the operations of the organization, business management majors are more focused on managing the human and interpersonal aspects of organizational teams. As such, the human-centric focus of business management gets the attention of students that are comfortable with constant human interaction.

Business management majors are also skilled in diplomacy and conflict resolution, which is what business enterprises often look for. Among the roles pursued by business management majors are project managers, personal service, entertainment, and recreation managers.

5. Electronics Engineering

Median salary (2020): $90,000
Growth projection through 2030: 7%

As part of the electrical engineering sub-discipline, electronics engineering develops highly-trained engineering technology professionals who can work as team members with engineers and scientists. Courses include digital systems design, differential equations, and electrical circuit theory. Electronics engineering majors design and develop electronic equipment, including instruments used in broadcast and communication systems.

Electronics engineering majors learn how to apply scientific and engineering knowledge and technical skills to make educated career decisions and compete successfully in the areas of instrumentation, computers, electronics, controls, electrical circuits, industrial control, communications, and manufacturing and testing. Majors of electronics engineering take on roles such as machine learning engineers, clinical technologists, and designers of advanced automation and robotic systems.

Source: Data USA

6. Healthcare Administration

  • Median salary (2020): $66,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 32%

This field of the healthcare sector is focused on the management of healthcare systems, which encompass planning, directing, and coordination. Healthcare administration majors are trained to handle the tasks that are necessary for the responsible and efficient operations of the entire healthcare department, facilities, or clinical areas.

Prepared for healthcare administration careers, they are trained to be highly skilled in management and organization and be knowledgeable in health policy, health science, and business management, which enable them to effectively manage healthcare facilities. Students that pursue this major become clinical managers, medical and health service managers, health information managers, and directors of managed care.

7. Health Informatics

Median salary (2020): $67,000
Growth projection through 2030: 8%

Health informatics is under the umbrella of the applied health sciences in information management and is one rapidly developing scientific field that employs computer technology in advancing health care services. This major integrates computer technologies, clinical practice, information science, and business management.

The aim of healthcare informatics is to improve the interaction between patients and healthcare providers through comprehensive care throughout a patient’s life. Students that pursue health informatics as a major are analytical, self-motivated, and enjoy solving problems. The technical training provided to healthcare informatics majors equip them with the skills to design and maintain medical databases, computer networks, and internet or multimedia applications. Careers include health informatics specialists, clinical informatics analysts, chief medical information officers, and health information technology project managers.

8. Construction Management

Median salary (2020): $75,000
Growth projection through 2030: 11%

The interdisciplinary curriculum of construction management equips students with skills in administration, architectural and engineering principles, technology, business, applied science, and mathematics. Construction management majors are trained to meet the requirements of the construction industry for well-educated professionals who can successfully and safely manage cost, time, labor, materials, and other resources. Aside from becoming construction managers, construction management majors become sustainability consultants, site engineers, and project managers.

9. Management Information System

Median salary (2020): $86,000
Growth projection through 2030: 7%

Management information systems majors combine computer technology, quantitative techniques, and administrative skills in designing the information processing requirements of organizations.  The focus is on analyzing, designing, implementing, and managing information systems in the context of the organization.

MIS majors are people-oriented as they are trained to emphasize service through technology. They command very competitive salaries because MIS majors meet the demand for smart people who understand both business and technology. Majors of MIS become computer systems analysts, database managers, IT consultants, and applications developers.

10. Mathematics

Median salary (2020): $93,170
Growth projection through 2030: 28%

Mathematics majors use analytical skills, communication skills, logical thinking skills, and problem-solving skills in evaluating large amounts of data. Coursework for mathematics majors typically includes differential equations, calculus, and linear and abstract algebra. Some students also take courses in a related field, such as physics, statistics, and computer science. Students that major in mathematics become data scientists, market research analysts, actuaries, and other analytics-related roles.

Source: Zippia

11. Biomedical Engineering

Median salary (2020): $79,000
Growth projection through 2030: 6%

Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest-growing engineering disciplines. Students who pursue a major in biomedical engineering learn the fundamentals of engineering, biology, and medicine. This cross-disciplinary study enables the student to improve health care by using analytical and experimental techniques in solving medical concerns. Through studying biological structures, biomedical engineers design medical devices and evaluate new tools for use in diagnosing diseases and repairing or replacing diseased organs.

A major in biomedical engineering offers the student diverse options in biomedicine, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biosignals, medical devices and equipment, health services, and research and innovation. Some roles include genetic engineer, rehabilitation engineer, biomedical research engineer, and biomechanical engineer.

12. Information Technology

  • Median salary (2020): $91,250
  • Growth projection through 2030: 13%

Those who major in information technology learn about systems that are used for storing, retrieving, and sending information. This major prepares students in the area of writing and producing interactive programs, designing customized databases, and using query languages to retrieve and update information in programs, such as SQL and QBE. Information technology majors may take on careers in project management, database systems, information security, and software and hardware design.

13. Mechanical Engineering

Median salary (2020): $84,000
Growth projection through 2030: 7%

Mechanical engineering majors are immersed in a curriculum that includes an advanced understanding of quantitative principles. Coursework may include solid and fluid dynamics, computational simulation, mechatronics, and biomechanical engineering.

Through project-based design and laboratory experiences, mechanical engineering majors are trained to have both the fundamental and diverse foundation towards a career in aerospace engineering, automotive engineering, biomedical engineering, and medical biotechnology.

14. Statistics

Median salary (2020): $75,000 
Growth projection through 2030: 33%

As big data continue to power the modern world, statistics majors are consistently in high demand. Statistics majors are trained to gather, analyze, and interpret data. Students that major in statistics may also take courses in related fields, such as computer science, life science, or physical sciences to prepare them for careers in a variety of industries.

Typically, statistics majors choose among five tracks—applied statistics, computational statistics, general statistics, machine learning, and data science. Statistics majors may build their careers in banking and finance as business analysts, and also in the public sector as economists, statisticians, and financial analysts.

15. Industrial Engineering

Median salary (2020): $71,707
Growth projection through 2030: 14%

Industrial engineering majors apply science, mathematics, and fundamental engineering principles to improve complex systems and operations. They gain practical experience while completing their degree. Courses include production systems planning, statistics, and manufacturing systems design. Manufacturing and automation are emphasized, and students are provided with hands-on training through problem-based learning.

As an industrial engineering major, students learn to design, improve and implement integrated systems of people, materials, information, equipment, and energy through solid science and engineering foundation subjects and advanced coursework in automation and control, manufacturing process, ergonomics, analytics, and operations management. Majors of industrial engineering may become process engineers, management analysts, supply chain analysts, and process engineering managers.

Best college majors

16. Civil Engineering

Median salary (2020): $70,919
Growth projection through 2030: 8%

Civil engineering majors study design, construction, and maintenance of facilities that help humans live better lives. Coursework includes math, engineering mechanics and systems, statistics, and fluid dynamics. The design and construction of water and air treatment systems, highways, tunnels, foundations, buildings, and bridges are among the skills learned by civil engineering majors, including the restoration, protection, and improvement of the environment.

Civil engineering is also involved in the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure systems. Civil engineering majors may take on jobs as structural engineers, construction managers, environmental engineers, and urban planners, among other roles.

17. Economics

Median salary (2020): $80,000 
Growth projection through 2030: 6%

Economics majors use math and data analysis, including economic principles and theory, in analyzing and forecasting economic trends. Macroeconomics, microeconomics, and business statistics are among the courses taken by economics majors. They typically work for business organizations as part of the strategic planning group. Economics majors become data analysts, market research analysts, financial risk analysts, and compensation and benefits managers.

18. Chemistry

Median salary (2020): $78,000
Growth projection through 2030: 6%

Chemistry majors focus on the composition, characteristics, changes, and uses of substances and energy while at the same time studying the benefits and dangers of those substances to people and their environment. Students that major in chemistry gain experience in the different subdisciplines of chemistry, which include inorganic, organic, analytical, biological, and physical. Calculus and physics are also part of the chemistry major’s coursework. Chemistry majors may take on biotechnologist, chemical engineer, nanotechnologist, and material scientist roles, among others

19. Public Administration

Median salary (2020): $70,000 
Growth projection through 2030: 5%

Public administration majors are well-equipped for careers in non-profit and governmental agencies as their education is mainly on the development and implementation of policies in both government and non-profit sectors. Students that major in public administration are also well-versed in public policy, public budgeting and finance, nonprofit administration, urban planning, personnel management and ethics, and program assessment and evaluation. Public administration majors may pursue careers in public policy, social work, international relations, and may also work as legal counselors and budget analysts.

20. Computer Graphics – Game Design

Median salary (2020): $71,000
Growth projection through 2030: 16%

The computer graphics major learns both computer science and arts in a four-year program that is focused on game design. Students that major in computer graphics use computer programming and a variety of computer applications in learning computer-based design, as well as in the programming of graphic systems. Coursework includes projects that incorporate computer-based imaging, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, and photography.

Among the concentrations offered are interactive multimedia, animation, or construction graphics. The computer graphics skills acquired by a student provide a variety of pathways to different careers, such as developing web technologies, engineering, architecture, or computer-aided design (CAD). With the growing video game market, graduates can look forward to plenty of job opportunities. Aside from becoming game programmers, computer graphics majors may also take on roles related to multimedia design, creative game directing, and character or environment design.

Source: Statista

21. Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Median salary (2020): $69,000
Growth projection through 2030: 30%

Logisticians typically have majors in supply chain and logistics management, which is a program that prepares students to help organizations identify and implement efficiencies in the flow of goods from supplier to consumer. Supply chain management majors gain foundational skills and competencies for a variety of careers. Among the courses in this major are management information systems, business research and analysis, principles of supply chain, international business, and procurement and supplier relations.

Logistics and supply chain management majors are trained in the area of distribution, material purchasing, warehousing and production operations. Graduates may become supply chain analysts, logisticians, distribution managers, logistics analysts, and purchasing agents.

22. Nursing

  • Median salary (2020): $91,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 9%

Patient-centered healthcare is the focus of nursing majors. Students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide safe, compassionate, and quality patient care across the lifespan and continuum of care for patients of diverse populations. Nursing majors become registered professionals through state licensure examinations. Majors in nursing also become nurse practitioners and postsecondary health specialties teachers

23. Accounting

  • Median salary (2020): $53,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 7%

Accounting majors are constantly in high demand in business. While there is an abundance of accounting software, human supervision and intervention is still required in organizational accounting. Students that major in accounting have a solid understanding of generally accepted accounting principles, including the process of managing financial documents and how these practices impact business operations. Accounting majors are also well-versed in tax law. Aside from the accountant role, the career paths for accounting majors include audit and tax-related roles, and also as a financial controller.

24. Physics

Median salary (2020): 73,230
Growth projection through 2030: 8%

Physics majors study matter and energy and are immersed in both classical and modern theories. Completing experiments in a laboratory setting is a major part of their coursework, and subjects include philosophy, waves and optics, thermodynamics, and physics for science and engineering.

Students that major in physics apply their analytical and critical thinking skills as medical physicists, environmental scientists, biophysicists, aerospace engineers, or optical engineers. Their knowledge and technical skills in modeling physical systems as well as in computer and electronic skills allow them to succeed in virtually any profession.

25. Business Administration

  • Median salary (2020): $76,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 8%

Business administration majors learn business theory, leadership, and ethical decision-making. Students focus on more practical applications of business as well as on the efficiency of the company’s day-to-day operations. Skills in strategic planning and research, effective forecasting, and entrepreneurship are developed—crucial skills in the fast-paced business environment.

The foundational knowledge provided to business administration majors includes business management courses, operations management, business ethics, and organizational leadership. Majors of business administration may take on roles such as business operations specialists, general managers, operations managers, and management analysts.

Source: Data USA

26. Finance

  • Median salary (2020): $73,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 8%

Finance majors learn a broad range of concepts and skills in economics, financial analysis, portfolio management, and statistics. The typical finance major coursework includes financial modeling, portfolio management, business law, and other foundational finance courses. Aside from the finance sector, opportunities for finance majors can be in the field of accounting and investment with finance majors taking on the role of financial managers, budget analysts, actuaries, or credit analysts.

27. Social Science

  • Median salary (2020): $68,000
  • Growth projection through 2030: 8%

Social science majors have the skills that employers look for—oral and written communication, interpersonal, teamwork, analytical, technical, organizational, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Majors of social science are highly skilled in research, both quantitative and qualitative. They know how to closely examine the effect of micro- and macro-level factors on the social lives of the people in the community.

Performing an analysis is among the strengths of social science majors, and they are capable of analyzing complex social issues using critical thinking skills, theoretical approaches, technology, information literacy, and interdisciplinary perspectives. Social science majors may take the path of management analysts, public relations practitioners, fundraisers, psychologists, sociologists, data analysts, and lawyers.

28. Marketing

Median salary (2020): $68,000
Growth projection through 2030: 22%

Marketing is one of the most versatile majors and is considered one of the best options for college students. Coursework includes the fundamentals of market research, marketing strategies, consumer behavior, and communication. In the context of the organization, the marketing team facilitates product conceptualization, product promotion, and consumer research to achieve organizational goals. Marketing initiatives drive sales, brand awareness and improve customer retention. Marketing majors become part of the workforce as market research specialists, marketing analysts, product managers, and advertising managers, and other management roles.

29. Human Resources

Median salary (2020): $65,000
Growth projection through 2030: 10%

Human resource majors are skilled in interpersonal relations as they are trained to interact with employees, whether in navigating benefits or pursuing career growth. Students that major in human resources take subjects in organizational development and human resource management. Students also gain knowledge on labor practices, resource planning, and training. Potential careers for human resources majors include HR generalist, recruiter, and benefits specialist.

30. Public Relations

Median salary (2020): $59,000
Growth projection through 2030: 11%

Public relations majors are excellent communicators and are trained to be experts in business strategy. Majors in public relations gain a deep understanding of the principles of strategic communication, event planning, and how to manage relationships with all stakeholders. Among the subjects taken by public relations majors are mass media law, public relations writing, and social media strategy.

Since the main role of public relations professionals is interacting with all the stakeholders of the organization that they represent, they are specifically skilled in reputation management and crisis control. Potential public relations jobs include event coordinator, social media supervisor, public relations manager, and fundraiser, among others.

31. Communications

Median salary (2020): $66,000
Growth projection through 2030: 14%

Communications majors excel in almost any field because they have one of the most important skills that employers look for. Their awareness of current events, their strong public speaking and presentation skills, and their writing skills produce well-crafted and highly convincing documents. Students that major in communications gain both soft skills and hard skills that make them very competitive. With their strong quantitative and qualitative research skills, communications majors analyze information to ensure the integrity of content.

Communications majors may become editors, interpreters and translators, public relations specialists, reporters, correspondents, broadcast news analysts, technical writers, and authors. They also often find a path in the field of marketing, advertising, media communications, and public relations.

32. Education

Median salary (2020): $58,000
Growth projection through 2030: 10%

Educators will always be in high demand. Education majors are knowledgeable in learning theories as well as in the art of teaching. Majors in education are trained to understand and analyze the learning process, including the different factors—social, cultural, environmental, and psychological—that can affect the learning process.

Coursework is focused on a specific age group or area of interest. In addition, education majors are provided with programs that will give them hands-on practice in teaching, developing curriculums, and facilitating assessments. Majors of education become elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, and also post-secondary school teachers.

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers

Choose Your College Major, Choose Your Future

Choosing a college major may be difficult, but there are plenty of resources to guide you as you make that major decision. Your degree selection criteria might be on market conditions or on how the particular college major fits your personality. Alternatively, you may want to pursue degrees that guarantee high pay.

It is important to remember that when it comes to choosing the best majors, not every path is the same, and the level of difficulty varies per discipline. Attitude is everything, and what would matter is your sense of adventure and exploration. For the insatiable learner, there is no terminal path, only new doors to greater opportunities.

In case you want to opt for online degree programs, you can also explore a variety of learning management system options from our list.

 

References: 

  1. Baker, B., Bettinger, E., Jacob, B. and Marinescu, I. (2018), The Effect of Labor Market Information on Community College Students’ Major Choice, Economics of Education Review, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.05.005
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  3. Carnevale, A.P., Cheah, B., hanson, A.R. (2015), The Economic Value of College Majors, https://1gyhoq479ufd3yna29x7ubjn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Economic-Value-of-College-Majors-Exec-Summ-Web.pdf
  4. Gong, Y., Stinebrickner, T., and Stinebrickner, R. (2019), Uncertainty about future income: Initial beliefs and resolution during college, journal of the Econometric Society, https://doi.org/10.3982/QE954
  5. Kim, C.H., Tamborini, C.R. and Sakamoto, A. (2018), The Sources of Life Chances: Does
    Education, Class Category, Occupation or Short-Term Earnings Predict 20-Year Long-Term Earnings?, Sociological Science 5: 206-233. DOI: 10.15195/v5.a9

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