50 Highest-Paying College Majors in 2020/2021

50 Highest-Paying College Majors in 2020/2021
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

When it comes to deciding on a career path after high school, it is possible that your interest and passion will override other factors. Beyond that, however, you will also want to pursue a degree that will offer a handsome take-home package. But with thousands of degrees to choose from, it can be daunting to find the right one. To narrow down your options, we’ve compiled a list of the top 50 highest paying college majors.

When they say the fruits of education are sweet, the most profitable college majors on this list really mean it. They are lucrative and will help you take your career off to a flying start and quickly clear your student loan debt, which according to student loan statistics, can go upward of $29,200 (Institute for College Access & Success).

Highest-Paying College Majors in 2020: Table of Contents

  1. $90,000 and above
  2. $70,000 to $80,000
  3. $60,000 to $70,000
  4. $50,000 to $60,000
  5. $40,000 to $50,000

When one is asked “what are the highest-paying college majors?,” we often immediately think of doctors, lawyers, and CEOs. However, contrary to popular belief, these are not the only careers that earn a lot of money—far from it. There is a long list of jobs out there from different fields that you may consider. Below, we’ve detailed 50 of them and their corresponding median base salaries, organized into the different disciplines in which the majors belong to help you make your decision.

To give an accurate estimate of what people in these fields earn, we culled the salary data from Glassdoor’s national average for people in the United States (Glassdoor, 2020).

$90,000 and above

1. Management Information Systems – $167,322

According to Maeve Cummings, a professor of Computer Information systems at Pittsburg State University, Management Information Systems (MIS) is the study of computing and computers in a business environment (Smartsheet, n.d.). MIS majors study how Information Technology (IT) can support the operation and strategy of organizations.

In a nutshell, MIS majors study information systems and their application in business or organizations. It is a people-oriented field, and as such, focuses not only on computer systems and software but also on how to help businesses use technology. The increasing use of technology in the industry has propelled MIS to first place in the list of top 50 highest paying college majors.

In the next 10 years, MIS careers in the United States are projected to increase from 461,000 in 2019 to 509,200 in 2029. This represents a 10% growth, which is 6% faster than the average for all occupations (BLS, 2020e).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Network administrator
  • Database administrator
  • Help desk analyst

2. Pharmacology – $125,845

Pharmacology majors study drugs and their effects on the human body. The subject entails elements of biology, chemistry, toxicology, and physiology. Unlike Pharmacy, which focuses on equipping graduates with skills to dispense prescription medicine, Pharmacology focuses on the research aspect of drugs.

Graduates in this field are expected to have the skills and knowledge to create new chemical substances and analyze the effects of new medicinal compounds. Besides, they ought to understand the positive and negative sides of the drugs they create.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Pharmacologist
  • Biomedical scientist
  • Medical research scientist

3. Petroleum Engineering – $111,935

Petroleum engineering majors study the series of processes used in the oil and gas industry. The subject imparts the skills and knowledge students need to design and develop processes for the extraction of gas and oil from deposits or reservoirs, deep below the surface.

In short, graduates in petroleum engineering work in drilling and well sites, exploring, drilling, producing, and transporting oil and gas. They are also involved in developing and actualizing the strategies that keep all these processes moving flawlessly.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Petroleum engineer
  • Reservoir engineer
  • Production engineer

4. Economics – $97,811

Economics majors study the intersection of money, resources, markets, and scarcity, and how these factors impact society and individuals. The subject delves into how the aforementioned factors impact financial situations and decisions. From production to consumption, it explores how the world’s resources are distributed and used by individuals and society as a whole.

Graduates in economics acquire the requisite skills and knowledge to evaluate economic issues and research trends on resources, services, and goods. In the business world, economists use analysis and quantitative methods to monitor and forecast sales, marketing, and other business trends.

Employment opportunities for economics graduates are increasing rapidly. According to the latest data, economists’ jobs are poised to increase by 14% between 2019 and 2029, which is more than triple the average for all occupations (BLS, 2020f).

Possible Entry Jobs

  • Economist
  • Financial analyst
  • Actuarial analyst

economists employment

5. Actuarial Science – $97,776

Actuarial science majors study how to use statistics, mathematics, and probability principles to predict future events and suggest preventive measures. The subject helps graduates develop the knowledge required to analyze past data and leverage available information to determine the amount of money to be set aside to cover the predicted financial losses.

Graduates of actuarial science help insurance companies analyze the financial cost of risk and uncertainty. Besides evaluating risk, they help maintain economic stability for these companies. One interesting fact is that besides a degree in actuarial science, graduates are required to pass various professional exams to become certified.

The employment of actuarial science majors is projected to grow by 18% from 2018 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for other occupations (BLS, 2020a).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Actuary
  • Actuarial analyst
  • Risk analyst

6. Finance – $95,162

Finance majors learn how to apply financial analysis, management, and strategy. The degree is offered in conjunction with other closely related subjects such as business, accounting, statistics, and economics. In general, it is designed to help students gain the relevant skills to enter the finance industry.

Finance graduates gain the knowledge and critical thinking skills needed to manage financial resources. Since finance deals with money—a subject of significant importance for virtually all areas of society. It opens the door to a wide range of careers, within different organizations.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Investment bank analyst
  • Financial analyst
  • Accountant

7. Computer Science – $92,046

Computer science majors study information, computers, and computational systems. The degree entails the study of theory, development, design, and application of software and software systems. Some of the key areas of computer science include database systems, artificial intelligence, human-computer interactions, computer systems, and network, security, graphics, and vision.

Computer science majors gain the knowledge and skills they need to design, develop, and test new technologies, and upgrade or enhance existing ones. They gain a deep understanding of how computer hardware and software function in tandem with data to keep processes moving. With the increase in tech job opportunities such as blockchain positions (370%), AI (149%), machine learning (99%), and Big Data (41%), the demand for computer science majors will surely go up in the coming years as well.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Systems engineer
  • Software engineer
  • Web developer

Source: CompTIA

$70,000 to $80,000

8. Aerospace Engineering – $79,714

Aerospace engineering is an engineering major that teaches students how to apply math, science, and technology concepts in the design, building, and maintenance of spacecraft, aircraft, satellites, and missile systems. The subject mainly focuses on key areas such as flight controls, aerodynamics, flight engines, launch, and orbits. It also touches on other areas such as flight safety, operational cost, fuel safety, and environmental impact.

Graduates acquire the requisite knowledge and skills they need to work in industries that design, build, test, and maintain aircraft, systems for national defense, missiles, and spacecraft. In addition, experienced aerospace engineers may be employed to investigate malfunctioning parts or air crashes.

Popular Entry Jobs:

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Maintenance engineer
  • Mechanical engineer

9. Electrical Engineering – $77,946

Electrical engineering majors learn how to design, develop, test, and maintain electrical control systems, equipment, and machinery. Unlike electronic engineering, which focuses on smaller electronic circuits, electrical engineering deals with the large-scale production and distribution of electrical power. It is also worth noting that some concepts of electrical engineering are applied in civil and mechanical engineering.

Electrical engineers work in industries that deal with the installation of electrical components, equipment, and systems for industrial, commercial, or scientific use. This could be in transport networks, ventilation, power generation, lift systems, manufacturing, construction, and renewable energy. Compared to similar occupations, electrical engineering employment is expected to grow by 5% from 2019 to 2029 (BLS, 2020g).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Electrical engineer
  • CAD technician
  • Systems engineer

10. Political Science – $77,173

Political science majors examine the intricate structures of governments and power across the world. They learn how laws and public policies are formulated, and how they impact the economic and social status of the population. The subject focuses on key areas such as political theory, comparative politics, international relations, and more.

A political science degree opens a career in a wide range of fields such as politics, education, business, journalism, and marketing. Primarily, political science majors work full-time in private, nonprofits, and private sectors. Statistics show that political scientists’ jobs will increase by 6% from 2019 to 2029, mainly because of the rising demand for public policy specialists (BLS, 2020m).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Policy analysts
  • Law clerk
  • Legal assistant

11. Nuclear Engineering – $77,122

Nuclear engineering majors study low-energy nuclear physics, and how to apply it in power generation and nuclear medicine. The degree encompasses the study of various areas such as fusion power, radioactive waste management, radiation, nuclear reaction, biophysics and radiology, and nuclear reactor design.

Graduates in this field are knowledgeable in their primary disciplines such as thermodynamics, electronics, material science, and physics. Nuclear engineers work in traditional nuclear power plants. Interestingly, even as many utilities opt for cheaper natural gas in power generation, the demand for nuclear engineers is projected to grow 13% from 2019 to 2029. However, it seems the demand will differ for various states in America, with Massachusetts having the highest vacancies (733.33%), followed by Tennessee (484.62%), Texas (166.67%), and New Mexico (127.27%) (Recruiter.com, 2019).

Popular Entry Jobs:

  • Nuclear engineer
  • Engineering technician
  • Field engineer

Source: Recruiter.com

12. Statistics – $76,884

Statistics majors learn how to gather, analyze, and interpret data using statistical and mathematical techniques to solve real-world problems. They acquire the skills needed to translate information into meaningful insights that can be used to improve processes in companies and organizations.

The skills and knowledge through this major are indispensable in fields such as finance, banking, government, and other organizations. In today’s increasingly data-driven world, the demand for mathematicians, analysts, data scientists, and statisticians has grown significantly. It is therefore not surprising that the overall employment of statisticians is projected to grow by 35% from 2019 to 2029 (BLS, 2020l).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Statistician
  • Data analyst
  • Data scientist

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

13. Civil Engineering – $76,540

Civil engineering majors learn how to design and supervise the building and construction of infrastructures such as tunnels, buildings, roads, bridges, airports, dams, and sewage and water supply systems. The subject focuses on the practical use of trigonometry, calculus, and geometry in conjunction with chemistry, material science, and physics.

Graduates in this field are employed primarily by architectural firms, government departments, utility companies, engineering firms, and builders. They are often on the move, running and coordinating activities at outdoor sites, mainly construction sites.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Civil engineer
  • Field engineer
  • Structural engineer

14. History – $75,475

History majors dive into the rigorous exploration and interpretation of the past, to develop a nuanced understanding of culture and societies. They study a wide variety of historical sources and documents, and at the same time, become adept writers, researchers, critical and analytical thinkers, and foreign-language speakers.

Graduates in this field use the skills and knowledge to research, analyze, and write about past events and eras. Typical employers include museums, libraries, and heritage organizations. You will also find history majors working in banks, charities, law firms, publishing companies, archives and record offices, and accountancy firms. As such, one may expect that average wages for historians may also differ depending on the industry, with working for the federal government yielding the highest salary at $97,850 per annum.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • History teacher
  • Research assistant
  • Teaching assistant

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

15. Biotechnology – $75,000

Biotechnology majors learn how to use biochemistry, biological sciences, and genetics to prepare new and enhanced agricultural, clinical, environmental, and industrial products such as animals, plants, and microbes. They study key disciplines such as gene identification, bioinformatics, drug, and biological development, industrial microbiology, genetic engineering, phylogenetics and comparative genomics, and more.

A biotechnology degree equips students with valuable, transferable skills that can be applied to a wide array of jobs. Biotechnology is found almost everywhere: in coffee filters, breakfast cereals, camping gear, aspirin, vitamins, and climbing rope. With the rapid pace at which societal needs are evolving, the demand for biotechnology professionals is poised to grow tremendously in the coming years.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Laboratory technician
  • Research associate
  • Quality control analyst

16. Psychology – $72,661

Psychology majors study the human mind, behavior, and interactions at both individual and group levels. They explore the cognitive, social, and emotional behavior and process by observing, recording, and interpreting how human beings relate to one another and to the environment.

Graduates in this field gain relevant knowledge and skills to explore unanswered questions about the brain such as how it learns new languages, how it functions under pressure, how mental illness impacts its proper functioning, and how it remembers facts. With these skills, psychologists can work independently by consulting with clients, conducting research, or working closely with patients. Some also work as professors, human resource managers, social workers corporate consultants, and the like.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Mental health counselor
  • Case manager
  • Sales associate

17. Mining Engineering – $72,323

Mining engineering majors study the processes and procedures used to safely remove materials such as coal, diamonds, and metals from the earth. They learn about the science behind mining and minerals, and acquire relevant skills to plan, design, and manage mines.

Mining engineers specialize in one mineral or metal and work closely with geologists to ensure as much of the mineral as possible is extracted. Another cohort of mining engineers focuses on developing and improving mining equipment or running processing plants that refine and separate minerals.

Popular Entry Jobs:

  • Mining engineer
  • Equipment operator
  • Seismic engineer

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

18. Chemical Engineering – $71,930

Chemical engineering majors learn how to transform raw materials into commercially viable products. They apply principles of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics to create solutions to problems that involve drugs, foods, fuel, and many other products. They gain relevant skills and knowledge to develop and design efficient processes to create new products or improve existing ones.

Chemical engineers are sometimes known as universal engineers because their job covers a wide scope. They spend time at refineries, industrial plants, and other locations solving onsite problems, monitoring operations, and managing processes. The employment of chemical engineers will grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is as fast as the average of all occupations (BLS, 2020d).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Chemical engineer
  • Project engineer
  • Process engineer

19. Mechanical Engineering – $70,964

Mechanical engineering majors learn how to design, develop, install, operate, and maintain anything that has moving parts. They create processes and tools required to solve the needs of society through a blend of human, material, and economic resources. The subject covers multiple disciplines in mathematics, technology, science, management, and business.

Among engineering professionals, mechanical engineers are known as jack-of-all-trades or general practitioners. This is because their skills and knowledge enable them to solve a wide range of social, technical, economic, and environmental problems.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), in 2019, 69.5% of firms hiring graduates with engineering degrees were seeking mechanical engineering majors (NACE, 2019).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Mechanical engineer
  • Project engineer
  • Design engineer

Source: NACE

20. Biology – $70,775

Biology majors study the science and characterization of living organisms. They study the origin of animal and plant life, as well as their characteristics, processes, habits, and functions. The degree opens careers or graduate-level work in various disciplines such as medicine, life sciences, dentistry, and other health-related fields.

General Biology graduates have the opportunity to work as a lab assistant, tutor, botanist, scientist for non-profit organizations, or a trip leader for outdoor companies. Other exciting careers include meteorologist, cellular or microbial biologist, geologist, and geneticist.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Tutor
  • Paramedic
  • Lab assistant

$60,000 to $70,000

21. Sports Management – $69,239

As the name suggests, sport management majors study the business attributes of sports. They gain the relevant skill and knowledge required to plan, organize, manage, and budget aspects of organizations or departments involved in sports or physical activities.

Sports management professionals play a critical role in running behind-the-scenes activities, such as sports facility management, event management, finance, marketing, and leadership. Their skills are applied in virtually all levels of sports, including professional and amateur sports, social organizations, municipal recreation, and government athletic activities.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Sales associate for sports companies
  • Personal trainer
  • Production assistant

22. Hospitality Management – $69,239

Hospitality management majors study the operation and structure of the hospitality industry and related sectors. They cover a wide range of disciplines, including hospitality planning, marketing strategies, and the coordination of franchise, management, and financial management.

The subject prepares students to take up roles in the hospitality sector on a system-wide basis, including the provision of traveler facilities, travel arrangements, and promotions. Typical employers include airlines, hotels, events organizers, bars and pubs, and conference and exhibition centers.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Housekeeping coordinator
  • Food and beverage coordinator
  • Front desk receptionist

23. Materials Engineering – $68,327

Materials engineering majors study the materials at an atomic and electrochemical level. The subject focuses mainly on giving students an in-depth understanding of scientific structure. The goal is to impart relevant knowledge and help students acquire skills to develop, process, and test a variety of materials used in multiple products.

Material engineers work in offices, where they use computers and other design tools. You will also find them in research and development or factory laboratories creating new substances or finding ways to improve existing materials. Their skills are indispensable in the manufacturing, aerospace, oil and gas, automotive, national defense, pharmaceuticals, and nuclear industries.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Material engineer
  • High education lecturer/professor
  • Patent examiner

24. Industrial Engineering – $65,969

Industrial engineering majors learn how to combine and apply scientific and engineering principles to design, develop, maintain, and improve industrial systems and processes. Industrial engineers combine principles of physics, mathematics and social science to analyze, evaluate, and predict gridlocks and results of processes and devices.

They also leverage insights to come up with processes and systems that make work easier and waste less time, money, man-power, raw resources, and energy. In a nutshell, industrial engineers deal with how products are manufactured, the quality of the final products, and the costs involved. With firms seeking unique ways to contain cost and improve efficiency, the employment of industrial engineers is projected to grow 10% between 2019 and 2020 (BLS, 2020j).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Industrial engineer
  • Production engineer
  • Quality engineer

industrial engineer employment

25. Nursing – $65,870

Nursing majors study a variety of disciplines in physical, social, natural, and behavioral sciences, including chemistry, anatomy, psychology, and physiology. The degree also emphasizes clinical judgment, critical thinking, and service to others, to prepare students for a career path in clinical nursing, nursing research, and nursing administration.

Nursing graduates acquire the relevant skills required to navigate patient interactions, assess clinical scenarios, and work successfully in various healthcare settings. Their skills are applicable in outpatient clinics, schools, home healthcare services, physicians’ offices, hospitals, and nursing care facilities. The employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 7% from 2019 to 2020 (BLS, 2020o).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Licensed vocational nurse
  • Registered nurse
  • Case manager

job openings for nurses

26. Marketing – $65,834

Marketing majors learn the strategies a business can use to maintain thriving relationships with their audiences through targeted campaigns. The subject touches a variety of disciplines to ensure students are adept at marketing, communications, public relationships, advertising, and consumer behaviors.

Marketing degree graduates acquire the skills required to pinpoint a need of the consumer and then create products and services that satisfy that need, all while getting the word out about the brand mission. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of advertising, promotion, and marketing professionals is projected to grow 6% from 2019 to 2029 (BLS, 2020b).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Marketing analyst
  • Marketing coordinator
  • Account executive

27. Biomedical Engineering – $65,779

Biomedical engineering majors learn how to combine engineering principles and medical science to design, create, and test equipment, software, devices, and computer systems that boost human health and healthcare at different levels. It is a diverse and innovative field that focuses on imparting knowledge of modern biological principles to foster innovation and the development of healthcare technologies.

Biomedical engineers use their skills and knowledge to develop systems for use in various departments from analysis and diagnosis to treatment and recovery. In addition, they develop implantable devices, such as artificial hips and pacemakers, and invent futuristic technologies like 3-D printers of biological organs and stem cell engineering.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Biomedical engineer
  • Clinical research associate
  • Service engineer

28. Healthcare Administration – $64,493

Healthcare administration majors learn how to plan, coordinate, manage, and improve the delivery of healthcare services. The degree includes instructions in business management, planning, financial management, human resources, public relations, health law and regulations, policymaking, and health care resource allocations.

Healthcare administration graduates have the knowledge and skills required to successfully discharge management and supervisory duties within a healthcare facility. As doctors and nurses handle the patients, healthcare administrators pull the strings behind the scene, to ensure the health care facility is functioning as it ought to.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Medical assistant
  • Healthcare management official
  • File clerk

29. Food Science – $61,485

Food science majors study the chemical, biological/microbiological, sensory, physical, engineering, and nutritional properties of foods. They study how to analyze food content, the principles underlying the processing of foods, how to discover new food sources, and research unique ways to make processed foods palatable, safe, and healthful.

The degree prepares students to lead change and innovation in the food industry, government, and academia. Food scientists use food science knowledge to create the best ways to process, preserve, package, store, and distribute processed foods. Typical employers of food scientists include food producers, manufactures, and retailers.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Food technologist
  • Scientific laboratory technician
  • Nutritional therapist

30. Fashion Design – $60,865

Fashion design majors study the nuts and bolts of designing clothes, footwear, and accessories. The subject focuses on areas of study such as technical drawing, illustration techniques, tailoring, pattern cutting, sewing, and draping techniques. It also touches on the use of modern technologies in fashion, such as computer design in fabric selection and pattern making.

Fashion design graduates possess technical knowledge, creativity, and other transferable skills, such as commercial awareness, problem-solving, attention to detail, presentation, teamwork, collaboration, and communication. The skills are indispensable for graduates who want to thrive in highly technical and competitive fields.

However, even though fashion design is one of the highest-paying majors, the employment of fashion designers is projected to decline by 4% from 2019 to 2029 (BLS, 2020i).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Fashion designer
  • Stylist
  • Textile designer

fashion designer employment

$50,000 to $60,000

31. Marketing Research – $59,786

Marketing research majors learn how to analyze consumer buying habits and market conditions to determine the potential sale of a service or product. They learn how to research buying trends, conduct surveys, explore advertising campaigns, study the competition, and more.

Market research graduates acquire the knowledge and skills required to conduct in-depth studies of market conditions, trends, and consumer buying behaviors. They uncover meaningful insights to help brands create the product consumers actually want and purchase.

Because of the increased use of data and analytics across many industries, the employment of market researchers is projected to grow 18% from 2019 to 2029 (BLS, 2020k).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Marketing research analyst
  • Cost estimator
  • Operations research analyst

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

32. Public Policy – $58,926

Public policy majors study various disciplines, including political science, economics and qualitative methods, philosophy, law, ethics, social psychology, and organizational behavior. The goal of this subject is to help students develop the skills required to evaluate, implement, and improve policy solutions for today’s societal needs.

Public policy graduates acquire the skills and knowledge required to assess large scale social problems such as controlling national debt or rising cases of homeless people. They can then mine helpful insights from the evaluation and come up with unique solutions to counter the case(s) in question.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Public relations management officer
  • Public policy consultant
  • Government relations management officer

33. Public Relations – $54,468

Public relations majors learn how to establish and promote a favorable public image of celebrities, powerful individuals, or brands. The degree equips students with strong practical skills such as promotional and communication skills, as well as professional knowledge such as client management and ethical practice they need to successfully manage the reputation of organizations and influence media opinion.

A degree in public relations leads to a broad range of interesting jobs for creative and advertising agencies, event organizers, media communication organizations, and public affairs companies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for public relations specialists will grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029 (BLS, 2020n).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Public relations coordinator
  • Event planner
  • Social media specialist

34. Architecture – $54,061

Architecture majors study the theory and history of designing structures and acquire practical experience in creating layouts of buildings. The subject encompasses various disciplines such as mathematics, science, statistics, computer science, art, and business to help students acquire relevant skills and knowledge. Instruction also includes professional responsibilities and standards, aimed at preparing students for independent professional practice.

Architecture graduates are expected to combine their design and critical thinking skills to plan and design homes, shopping centers, skyscrapers, factories, and other structures. However, the growth of the employment of architects is expected to be snail-paced. This is seen as a result of the emergence of advanced measuring technology and building information modeling (BIM) software, which have increased architect’s productivity.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Architect
  • Project designer
  • CAD designer

35. Accounting – $53,748

Accounting majors study the various disciplines of business administration, paying special attention to the intricacies of accounting. They learn how to record, classify, summarize, interpret, and communicate financial information about an individual, business, or organization. The subject also draws from fields, such as statistics, information technology, economics, and law.

Accounting graduates are expected to have advanced theoretical and practical knowledge to create, audit, and maintain accurate and detailed financial systems of organizations and businesses. Besides finishing a bachelor’s degree in accounting, graduates should also complete certification such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to improve their job prospects.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Auditor

36. Human Resources – $53,330

Human resource majors learn how to deal with key employment issues such as recruitment, employee onboarding, staffing, employee remuneration, and safety and health in the workplace. In addition, they gain the relevant skills and knowledge required to navigate potentially sensitive and tricky situations that arise in the workplace.

Human resource specialists work closely with executives on strategic planning. They are expected to contribute towards policy change, especially if the change affects the workforce. While HR specialists generally work in offices, some such as recruitment specialists, are always on the move to visit college campuses and attend job fairs, searching for untapped talents and exchanging ideas to improve HR management.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • HR analyst
  • Corporate recruiter
  • HR coordinator

37. Anthropology – $53,153

Anthropology majors study the origin and evolution of humans and humanity. They learn about human diversity and explore how linguistics, history, biology, and culture affects human behavior and ideas. The degree equips students with problem-solving and critical thinking skills, preparing them to succeed in the 21st century in research, business, advocacy, teaching, and public service.

Anthropology graduates have a deep understanding of biological principles, historical contingencies, fundamental cultural themes, human linguistic diversity, and the diversity of human cultures. The employment of anthropologists is projected to grow by 5% from 2019 t0 2029 (BLS, 2020c). Competition for places, however, will remain high because of the smaller number of available jobs relative to the high number of applicants.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Research assistant
  • Project coordinator
  • Academic administrative assistant

anthropologist employment

38. Biochemistry – $52,722

As the name suggests, Biochemistry majors study the intersection of chemistry and biology to understand living organisms. They explore the chemistry of living things, chemical information transfer systems and pathways, and fundamental chemical substances, with special reference to proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and lipids.

Biochemistry graduates are expected to have in-depth molecular biology knowledge, research and data analysis, observational skills, and practical laboratory skills. The skills and knowledge are in high demand in areas such as forensic science, national health service, research institutes, and government departments. Typical employers include health, environment, agriculture, food, and water companies.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Chemist
  • Research technician
  • Pharmacy technician

39. Environmental Science – $52,700

Environmental science majors study the interrelationship between human activities and the environment. The interdisciplinary degree explores aspects of physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, geography, social sciences, and marine science. Studies may also include travel to different regions and countries to get a firsthand feel for different climates, habitats, societies, and land formations.

Environment science graduates are expected to have a deep understanding of key areas such as sustainability, conservation, and environmental research. They should be able to combine their skills and knowledge of natural sciences to safeguard the environment and human health. With environmental conservation high on the agenda of many regions in the world, the employment of environmental scientists is growing rapidly. In fact, it is projected that employment will grow at a rate double the average of other occupations (BLS, 2020h).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Environmental scientist
  • Safety manager
  • Laboratory technician

environment scientist employment

40. Advertising – $52,340

Advertising majors study various areas, including brand strategy, content creation, consumer behavior, principles of advertising, sociology, audience analysis, and marketing principles. The subject explores the creative and visual aspects of selling a service or product and touches on technical and practical aspects of advertising.

Advertising graduates acquire relevant skills and knowledge that enable them to flex their analytical and creative skills to inform, remind, and persuade consumers of a brand’s product or service. Advertising a subset of marketing that plays a critical role in helping organizations expand and maintain their share of the market. The employment in this niche is expected to grow by 6% from 2019 to 2029 (BLS, 2020b).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Copywriter
  • Marketing management employee
  • Account executive

41. Information Technology – $51,838

Information technology majors study a combination of computer science, communication, and business courses. They learn how computing and information systems support the business, communication, and research needs of organizations. Instruction varies from the introductory courses in computer hardware to the intricate relationship between computers and humans.

Information technology graduates gain skills and knowledge that make them adaptable problem solvers who can readily work with computer systems and people. Information technologists are fit to work across professional industries, transportation equipment manufacturing, hospitals, scientific and technical services, and educational services.

The employment in this niche is expected to grow by 11% from 2019 to 2029, thanks to the ever-increasing dependence on technology. As a result, Information technology is poised to be one of the highest paying degrees in the future.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • System engineer
  • Programmer analyst
  • Technical support

42. Physics – $51,498

Physics majors study how various forms of energy and matter interact to gain exposure to both modern and classical theories in the field. They explore the complex subject of how the world is structured and how it works. The degree focuses on courses relevant to physics from the visible universe to the subatomic particles.

Physics graduates acquire knowledge and skills such as problem-solving, numeracy, communication of complex ideas, data analysis, and a deeper understanding of how the world works. These skills help them to fit in a variety of fields, including astronomy, research institutes, teaching, and laboratories and observatories.

According to NACE, physics is the third most in-demand math and science degree (NACE, 2019).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Computer programmer
  • Physicist
  • Research fellow

Source: NACE

43. Chemistry – $51,280

Chemistry majors study the various ways the elements on the periodic table combine to produce simple and complex compounds. The course explores concepts such as chemical equilibrium, chemical manipulation, chemical composition, chemical processes, periodic trends, and more. The goal is to help students gain a deeper understanding of the way materials are structured, how they react, and how they change.

Chemistry graduates gain the knowledge and skills that allow them to contribute to a range of work, from inventing antibiotics to handling criminal investigations. Besides, a degree in chemistry opens the door to exciting careers in research, medicine, and the chemical industry. However, because this is a highly competitive niche, graduates with advanced degrees, particularly those with Ph.D. have the best opportunities.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Chemist
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Laboratory technician

44. Interior Design – $50,224

Interior design majors learn how to apply artistic techniques and principles to the planning, equipping, designing, and furnishing of commercial and residential interior spaces. The course covers topics, such as principles of interior lighting, color coordination, and acoustics; graphic design and drafting techniques; furnishings and furniture; and more.

Interior design graduates gain the creative and technical skills required to make interior spaces beautiful, safe, and functional. They likewise determine space requirements for interior systems and equipment and select decorative and essential items for indoor spaces. Typical employers include interior design companies, architectural firms, exhibition centers, and construction companies, to name a few.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Interior designer
  • Drafter
  • Visual merchandiser

45. Education – $50,070

Education majors study the art and theory of teaching or the process of giving systematic instructions. Put simply, education degree graduates learn the most effective ways to become a teacher. The degree combines the theoretical grounding in psychology, human development, the economics of education, sociology, and various applied topics on teaching methods.

Education graduates may specialize in various areas such as early childhood education, primary teaching, vocational education, or secondary teaching. Regardless of the area of specialization, education graduates gain transferable skills that enable them to disseminate information and impart knowledge in the most effective way.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Elementary school teacher
  • Special education teacher
  • Language arts teacher

$40,000 to $50,000

46. Social Work – $49,450

Social work majors study social welfare systems and the organized means of providing support service for vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals. The degree covers main areas such as casework planning, social welfare policy, social counseling strategies, and administrative procedures. It explores the application of these techniques and strategies in areas such as family service, child welfare, probation, disability counseling, and employment services.

Social work graduates acquire skills and knowledge that prepare them for the professional practice of social counseling and welfare administration. They ought to understand the problems that individuals face such as family violence, homelessness, and addiction, and provide the resource and counseling to solve these challenges. In modern society rampaged by numerous challenges, the need for social workers has grown significantly and employment in this niche is projected to grow by 13% by 2029 (BLS, 2020p).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Mental health counselor
  • Social worker
  • Camp counselor

social workers employment

47. International Relations – $49,146

International relations majors study world societies, the interaction between them, and the impact of culture, politics, and economics on world affairs. The degree focuses on various courses in history, sociology, anthropology, politics, data science, statistics, world languages, and economics.

International relations students acquire in-depth knowledge of world politics, culture, history, geography, language, and other affairs. The degree doesn’t prepare students for a specific occupation. However, it gives graduates a broad base of knowledge and a set of soft skills that open the door to a long list of career fields. They can work as CIA agents, foreign affairs analysts, archivists, demographers, diplomats, or economists, to name a few.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • English teacher
  • Marketing associate
  • Research assistant

48. Communications – $47,993

Communication majors learn how to effectively convey messages to diverse audiences to achieve a specific goal. The degree focuses on teaching students about effective communication and how to use it in fields such as law, media, and business. It helps students develop functional proficiency in understanding, interpreting, comprehending, speaking, and writing, preparing them to become effective problem solvers and critical thinkers.

Communications graduates are required to have effective communication and analytical skills to disseminate information through mass outlets to foster personal interactions and build business relationships. Their set of skills is essential in virtually all industries where they help keep strong relationships with investors, sell products or services to the public, and keep all clients and customers informed.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Journalist
  • Public relations coordinator
  • Content marketing writer

49. Business – $47,586

Business majors study fundamental business principles in finance, accounting, marketing, international business, economics, project management, communications, ethics, and more. The degree allows students to generalize their coursework or tailor it to a specific business discipline. Regardless of the choice of courses, a business degree seeks to shed light on the various key elements needed to make business operations successful.

Business degree graduates have a significant level of versatility, which makes them employable in a number of different industries. They can work as assistant buyers, business intelligence analysts, marketing coordinators, insurance agents, financial agents, and more. Even better, they can open their own business to explore the challenging yet rewarding and lucrative journey.

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Accountants
  • Human resource specialist
  • Loan officer

 50. Graphic Design – $45,677

Graphic design majors learn how to apply computer and artistic techniques to interpret commercial and technical concepts. The subject focuses on various topics, including technical drawing, computer-assisted art and design, multimedia applications, still and life modeling, and more. Students can focus on specific learning objectives such as animation, motion graphics, design theory, portfolio development, or project management.

Graphic design graduates are expected to acquire the design and computer skills required to create stunning visual concepts for websites, magazines, books, and more. They work in design services, advertising, publishing, and public relations companies where they turn ideas into visual graphics that inform, inspire, and captivate consumers. Among the largest employers of graphic designers are specialized design services (10%), advertising and public relations (8%), printing (7%), and newspapers (5%).

Possible Entry Jobs:

  • Graphic designers
  • Web developers
  • Technical writers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pursue the Ideal College Major for You

As the adage goes, the roots of education are bitter but the fruits are sweet. This rings true in any college major you pursue: there is pleasure after enduring the challenges that come your way in school. Some of the fruits, however, are sweeter as you will find out when you pursue one of the top 50 highest paying college majors.

However, this does not mean that you have to choose your college major based purely on the earning potential. The risk of doing so can be detrimental in the long run. If your heart isn’t fully into a career it will be difficult to overcome challenges. But if you pursue a degree that aligns with your interest and passions, no mountain will stand your way on your quest for career success.

To be on the safe side, strike some sort of balance between interest, passion, and pay. This way, you’ll end up in a career you love, doing a job you like, and earning the highest pay the job can offer.

 

References:

  1. BLS (2020a). Actuaries. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. BLS (2020b). Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. BLS (2020c). Anthropologists and archeologists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  4. BLS (2020d). Chemical engineers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  5. BLS (2020e). Computer and information systems managers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  6. BLS (2020f). Economists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  7. BLS (2020g). Electrical and electronics engineers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  8. BLS (2020h). Environmental scientists and specialists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  9. BLS (2020i). Fashion designers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  10. BLS (2020j). Industrial engineers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  11. BLS (2020k). Market research analysts. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  12. BLS (2020l). Mathematicians, and statisticians. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  13. BLS (2020m). Political scientists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  14. BLS (2020n). Public relations specialists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  15. BLS (2020o). Registered nurses. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  16. BLS (2020p). Social workers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  17. Glassdoor (2020). Salaries in the United States. Mill Valley, CA: Glassdoor.com.
  18. NACE (2019). NACE Job Outlook 2019. Bethlehem, PA: National Association of Colleges and Employers.
  19. Recruiter.com (2019). Career Outlook for Nuclear Engineers. Houston, TX: Recruiter.com
  20. Smartsheet (n.d), Management information systems: In business, in academia, and in the future. Smartsheet.com.
  21. TICAS (2019). Report: Class of 2018 Four-Year Graduates’ Average Student Debt is $29,200. Washington, DC: Institute of College Access & Success.

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