A bachelor’s degree is a great investment in your future, and one of the most common degrees earned by college students. Some degrees pay you back, but others don’t do much to increase your earning potential. Your major can have an even bigger impact on future earnings than the choice of school. Your course of study influences your earning potential, so you need to plan your financial future carefully. According to recent data published by PayScale, these are the top 10 college majors that pay you back:
1. Petroleum Engineering
Petroleum engineering is a field of engineering concerned with the activities related to the production of hydrocarbons, which can be either crude oil or natural gas. A petroleum engineer determines the most efficient way to drill for and extract oil and natural gas at a particular well. They oversee drilling operations and resolve any operating problems. They also decide how to stimulate an underperforming well.
Average Early-career pay: $94,500
Average Mid-career pay: 176,900
2. Computer Science
Computer Science is a program that focuses on computer theory, computing problems and solutions, and the design of computer systems and user interfaces from a scientific perspective. Includes instruction in the principles of computational science, computer development and programming, and applications to a variety of end-use situations.
Average Early-career pay: $88,000
Average Mid-career pay: 142,200
3. Applied Economics and Management
Applied Economics is a program that focuses on the application of economic principles and analytical techniques to the study of particular industries, activities, or the exploitation of particular resources. Includes instruction in economic theory; microeconomic analysis and modeling of specific industries, commodities; the economic consequences of resource allocation decisions; regulatory and consumer factors; and the technical aspects of specific subjects as they relate to economic analysis.
Average Early-career pay: $58,900
Average Mid-career pay: $140,000
4. Operations Research
Operations Research is a modern, interdisciplinary subject that uses mathematical techniques to solve large-scale optimization problems in the real world. The field grew out of urgent problems faced by the Allies during World War II and helped guide military planners in their decision-making.
Average Early-career pay: $77,900
Average Mid-career pay: $137,100
5. Political Economy
A program that focuses on the interaction between politics and economics in the formation of public policy. Includes instruction in microeconomics; macroeconomics; political theory; American, comparative, and international political economy; and quantitative methods.
Average Early-career pay: $57,600
Average Mid-career pay: $136,200
6. Actuarial Mathematics
Actuarial Mathematics is a program that focuses on the mathematical and statistical analysis of risk, and their applications to insurance and other business management problems. Includes instruction in forecasting theory, quantitative and non-quantitative risk measurement methodologies, development of risk tables, secondary data analysis, and computer-assisted research methods.
7. Electrical Power Engineering
It is a program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of electrical and electronic systems and their components, including electrical power generation systems; and the analysis of problems such as superconductor, wave propagation, energy storage and retrieval, and reception and amplification.
Average Early-career pay: $72,400
Average Mid-career pay: $142,700
8. Business Analysis
It is a program that generally prepares individuals to plan, organize, direct, and control the functions and processes of a firm or organization. Includes instruction in management theory, human resources management and behavior, accounting, and other quantitative methods, purchasing and logistics, organization and production, marketing, and business decision-making.
Average Early-career pay: $57,200
Average Mid-career pay: 133,200
Pharmacy is a program that prepares individuals, under the supervision of pharmacists, to prepare medications, provide medications and related assistance to patients, and manage pharmacy clinical and business operations.
Average Early-career pay:$79,600
Average Mid-career pay: $132,500
10. Aeronautical Engineer
Aeronautical Engineering is a program that prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of engineers and other professionals engaged in developing, manufacturing and testing aircraft, spacecraft and their systems.
Average Early-career pay: $73,100
Average Mid-career pay: $131,600
Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
According to PayScale, Petroleum Engineering is the highest-paying college major.
Applied Economics is the highest-paying college major in the non-STEM field.