The 25 Most Lucrative College Majors of 2019

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Education and health care degrees may result in meaningful work, but if you want to go where the money is, you should probably major in a STEM field.

Science, technology, engineering and math subjects dominate the most lucrative college majors, according to PayScale’s 2019-2020 College Salary Report.

The compensation data website used salary information from 3.5 million respondents to determine which majors result in the highest salaries.

Based on mid-career incomes, the following are the 25 highest-paying bachelor’s degree careers, starting with No. 25 and working up to the top spot.

25. Building science

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $49,800
  • Mid-career: $123,100

This architectural field teaches students how to design and construct buildings that integrate features such as energy-efficient features and technology into a comfortable environment for occupants.

The College Board notes students majoring in this field often take courses in civil and mechanical engineering as well.

24. Computer systems engineering

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $74,100
  • Mid-career: $123,200

Graduates who major in computer systems engineering may go on to work in such technology occupations as being a computer network architect, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These professionals are responsible for creating data communication networks such as intranets, local area networks and wide area networks.

23. Marine engineering

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $72,600
  • Mid-career: $123,600

With a marine engineering degree, you could get a job as a marine engineer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for these workers will grow faster than average in the years to come as marine engineers are called upon to design, build and maintain ships of all kinds — from aircraft carriers and submarines to sailboats.

22. Aeronautical engineering

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $70,600
  • Mid-career: $124,800

Aeronautical engineers are specialized aerospace engineers who design aircraft and spacecraft.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth in the field to be slower than average in the coming years, the federal agency says those who are hired out of college can expect good entry-level salaries and even six-figure mid-career incomes.

21. Human-computer interaction

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $74,300
  • Mid-career: $126,200

The study of human-computer interaction blends behavioral sciences like psychology and sociology with computer and information sciences to explore how people use technology and how technology affects society, the College Board notes.

Graduates with this degree may go on to design applications, research user experiences and apply their knowledge to marketing campaigns, among other careers, according to the University of Michigan’s School of Information.

19. Geophysics (tie)

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $56,600
  • Mid-career: $127,200

While geophysics majors don’t make the highest salaries right out the gate, their incomes more than double by mid-career.

Geophysics students learn about the Earth’s interior and may go on to work as part of exploration teams seeking oil, natural gas or minerals.

19. Chemical engineering (tie)

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $72,800
  • Mid-career: $127,200

Working as a chemical engineer is the logical choice for those who major in chemical engineering. These professionals may conduct research, establish safety procedures and design equipment to be used with chemical substances.

Traditionally, chemical engineers have worked in the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and basic and specialty chemicals industries, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers says.

18. Actuarial science

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $63,700
  • Mid-career: $127,300

Actuarial science majors get paid well to help insurance companies, businesses and the government manage risk.

Actuaries use math and statistics to determine how likely someone is to make a claim on their insurance policy, for instance. They can also identify financial risks for a company, calculate the liability in a pension system or complete similar financial analyses.

17. Economics and mathematics

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $64,300
  • Mid-career: $127,700

A major in economics and mathematics can result in a lucrative career in the finance industry. PayScale finds those with this major work as financial analysts, data analysts and data scientists.

Meanwhile, the University of Richmond says its mathematical economics majors may go on to jobs in consulting, actuarial science and statistics, among other fields.

16. Chemical engineering/materials science and engineering

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $76,100
  • Mid-career: $127,900

Students who select this major gain expertise in two engineering fields, and employers seem willing to pay well for that advanced knowledge.

According to the University of California, Berkeley, graduates with this major could find themselves working to extract metals from low-grade ores, turn coal to gas or liquid or solve similar problems.

15. Aerospace studies

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $52,600
  • Mid-career: $129,600

Aerospace studies programs may focus on engineering. Graduates who work as aerospace engineers design and test aircraft and spacecraft.

Some schools, such as Michigan Technological University, have aerospace studies programs that focus on developing leadership skills. This field of study doesn’t offer particularly noteworthy entry-level incomes but by mid-career it is the 15th most lucrative major.

14. Quantitative business analysis

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $67,100
  • Mid-career: $130,000

Offered by business schools, a quantitative business analysis major or concentration may focus on courses in statistics, information technology and data analysis.

Graduates may go on to work in jobs such as operations research analysts and use their skills to gather and analyze data to be used in business decisions.

13. Systems engineering

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $72,300
  • Mid-career: $130,400

Systems engineers take a big-picture view of how various components work together. Rather than focus on a single engineering specialty, they may learn about a variety of disciplines such as automation, biology and communication.

Boston University says its systems engineering graduates are valued for their versatility, and they may work to create effective and efficient systems within a variety of realms, including technology, finance, business processes and logistics.

12. Public accounting

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $56,400
  • Mid-career: $130,800

Certified public accountants, or CPAs, have some of the most lucrative jobs in accounting, but they may need to complete 150 hours of college before they can take certification exams.

That’s longer than most bachelor’s degree programs, so some schools have special five-year programs in public accounting. It may take a little longer to get into the workforce if you study public accounting, but the financial payoff can be worth it.

11. Econometrics

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $60,100
  • Mid-career: $131,000

This major may be an unfamiliar one to you. Econometrics is a business specialty that teaches students how to analyze economics using math and statistics, according to the College Board.

Graduates may be highly valued for their forecasting skills and their ability to conduct cost-benefit analyses.

10. Aeronautics and astronautics

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $73,100
  • Mid-career: $131,600

Here’s another major that can lead to a career as an aerospace engineer. Students who major in aeronautics and astronautics may learn engineering fundamentals and aerospace systems design.

Professionals in this field often work for aerospace manufacturers, the government or engineering firms, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

9. Pharmacy

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $79,600
  • Mid-career: $132,500

Majoring in pharmacy can be the first step toward a high-paying career as a pharmacist.

However, don’t think you can get a job doling out prescription drugs with just a bachelor’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says you’ll need to continue your studies to the doctoral level before you can work in this occupation.

8. Business analysis

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $57,200
  • Mid-career: $133,200

Students who study business analysis learn how to make savvy business decisions by analyzing available data.

Coursework may cover management, case analysis and strategic planning. Graduates may work in fields as varied as architecture, operations, engineering, finance and technology.

7. Electrical power engineering

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $72,400
  • Mid-career: $134,700

Electrical power engineers are employed in work designed to generate, transmit and distribute electricity, according to the IEEE Power & Energy Society.

You can earn a specialized degree in the field at some schools. The University of Houston’s description of its Electrical Power Engineering Technology undergraduate degree program gives an idea of the courses required and the types of jobs you might expect to obtain with a bachelor’s degree.

6. Actuarial mathematics

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $63,300
  • Mid-career: $135,100

If you like numbers, a major in actuarial mathematics or other math-oriented degrees can lead to a high-paying career as an actuary, a professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty.

You may find these programs within mathematics departments, and coursework may cover finance, statistics, probability and economics. After your degree, you’ll need to earn actuarial credentials by taking rigorous courses and exams, GlassDoor says.

5. Political economy

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $57,600
  • Mid-career: $136,200

Political economy majors study how politics and the economy interact in the shaping of public policy, according to the College Board.

This knowledge may be valuable to governments, think tanks and research organizations. As a result, graduates may find high-paying jobs as analysts, economists, lobbyists and financial consultants, among other positions.

4. Operations research

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $77,900
  • Mid-career: $137,100

This niche business major teaches students how to solve complex business problems, such as those related to logistics, scheduling and economics forecasting, by using math, statistics and technology.

Working as an operations research analyst may be among the career options for graduates who earn this degree.

3. Applied economics and management

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $58,900
  • Mid-career: $140,000

Businesses need qualified workers who can suggest practical strategies for growth based on economic principles.

A major in applied economics and management may provide students with those coveted skills and result in a large paycheck by mid-career.

2. Electrical engineering and computer science

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $88,000
  • Mid-career: $142,200

This major combines two of the hot STEM fields: technology and engineering. It’s offered as a degree — or a dual degree — at some schools, including the University of California, Berkeley.

A degree, or combined degree in these fields, can land you jobs with engineering firms or a tech company. Or, you may find work in fields as varied as health care, telecommunications, retail, renewable energy, security and gaming, says Iowa State University.

1. Petroleum engineering

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Median salaries for people with a bachelor’s degree in this subject:

  • Early career: $94,500
  • Mid-career: $176,900

No other major comes close to the earning potential of a degree in petroleum engineering. Even new graduates may be able to earn nearly six figures, according to PayScale’s data.

To earn that money, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, petroleum engineers design equipment to extract oil and gas and create systems to maximize the effectiveness of that equipment.

What’s your take on these college majors? Sound off by commenting below or on the Money Talks News Facebook page.

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