Show Me the Money: Majors and Careers with Top Salaries

Money isn’t the only consideration when it comes to choosing a college major and your future career. But if you’re like most students, you’re probably already thinking about what your paycheck will be after you leave college. If you want to maximize your earning potential, here are some majors and careers you should consider.

When it comes to securing an impressive starting salary, your best bet is to choose a field related to engineering or computer science. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the following majors receive the highest average salary offers:

  • Chemical Engineering: $63,616
  • Computer Engineering: $59,962
  • Computer Science: $59,873
  • Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering: $58,252
  • Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering: $57,999
  • Mechanical Engineering: $57,821
  • Electrical/Electronics & Communications Engineering: $56,944
  • Engineering Technology: $54,759
  • Construction Science/Management: $52,745
  • Civil Engineering: $50,940

*Source: Spring 2008 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

Not interested in science and engineering? Don’t worry, there are plenty of other college majors that give you lots of long-term earning potential. Look at the median wages for the nation’s top 50 highest-paying occupations, as provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, and you’ll find many other fields that promise a comfortable salary over the course of your career:

  • Marketing Manager: $98,700
  • Pharmacist: $94,500
  • Sales Manager: $91,600
  • Financial Manager: $91,000
  • Political Scientist: $90,100
  • Human Resources Manager: $88,500
  • Mathematician: $86,900
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologists: $86,400
  • General/Operations Manager: $85,200
  • Purchasing Manager: $81,600

Of course, becoming a top earner in any of these fields might require you to pursue a graduate degree. If you really want a career with a top salary, think pre-med (mean salary for an anesthesiologist is $184,340), pre-law (average salary for a lawyer is $113,600), or get ready to earn your MBA (chief executives earn, on average, $144,600 annually).

And in the end, you should remember the old adage “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Yes, you want to choose a major that will help you land a job, pay the bills after graduation and hopefully give you a comfortable lifestyle, but more importantly, you should select a career path that will give you personal fulfillment and satisfaction. Those are things money can’t buy.

Cappex can help you find colleges that offer the majors or programs that you want to pursue.