The Bachelor’s Degrees With The Highest Salary Potential
by Kathryn Dill
Last week, Forbes reported on The 25 Most Meaningful College Majors, many of which provided serious paychecks along with a strong sense of purpose.
But which majors all but guarantee a healthy starting salary that will only continue to grow?
As part of their 2014 – 2015 College Salary Report, Payscale.com asked survey respondents whose culminating degree is a bachelor’s, and who graduated from schools in the U.S., work full-time in the U.S., and are not on active military duty to answer questions about their current employment and compensation.
Engineering dominates the list, which is top-heavy with STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degrees.
At the top of the list of bachelor’s degrees with the highest salary potential is petroleum engineering, which provides a median mid-career salary of $176,300. Actuarial mathematics comes in second, with mid-career salary potential of $119,600.
Nuclear engineering, chemical engineering, and electronics and communications engineering round out the top five, with mid-career median salaries that all top $113,000.
A few non-STEM degrees lurk much further down the 207 degree ranking. Philosophy ranks 49th on the list with a respectable mid-career median salary of $84,000. Marketing management follows close behind in spot 50, bringing in mid-career pay of $83,700.
Degrees as varied as forestry, urban planning, geography, and religious studies all populate the spots just above 100, with mid-career earnings in the $70,000s.
At the other end of the spectrum, education degrees populate many of the lowest-paid spots on the ranking, with child development coming in 207th with a mid-career salary of $36,400.
The runner up, early childhood education, promises a mid-career salary of $38,000. Child and family studies, early childhood and elementary education, and human services fill out the bottom five.
Athletic training and pastoral ministry are among the only non-education degrees at the lowest-paid end of the ranking. Each promises a $45,000 – $46,000 mid-career median salary.
The 10 Bachelor’s Degrees With The Highest Salary Potential
1. Petroleum Engineering
2. Actuarial Mathematics
3. Nuclear Engineering
4. Chemical Engineering
5. Electronics & Communications Engineering
6. Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE)
7. Computer Science (CS) & Engineering
8. Computer Engineering (CE)
9. (tied) Aerospace Engineering
9. (tied) Electrical Engineering