Potential income is one of the biggest factors that people consider before making a college decision. Some experts recommend students choose a major that hits the middle ground between passion and potential future earnings. However, you may still be wondering, “What majors make the most money?”
There are hundreds of majors that can lead to high-paying jobs. Therefore, your choice will largely depend on your personal interest and skills. To help you make a decision, we have provided extensive information on the best and highest-paying majors, ways to specialize in them, and the potential median salaries for degree holders.
Note that the skills needed for a high-paying career today may not be the same for a lucrative career in the future. This is because in-demand skills constantly change to follow job market trends. However, we have compiled the highest-paying degrees with the best future prospects using credible data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.
What Is a Major?
A major is the main area of focus of your college degree. It makes up a majority of your curriculum in a field of study. Most of the compulsory courses you take and pass usually belong to your major while other required courses and electives are generally considered minors. Together, they make up the entire four-year degree.
Upon graduation, your major will be written on your degree description following your level of education. For example, someone with an undergraduate degree majoring in mathematics would likely obtain a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.
Major vs Degree
A major is the main focus of a degree while a degree is an educational level in which you complete your major. In other words, a major is a large component that makes up your degree. Typically, a bachelor’s degree requires the completion of courses relevant to your major, along with electives or minor courses that also count toward your credits for graduation.
10 of the Best Majors to Make Money
|Bachelor’s Degree Salary
|Master’s Degree Salary
|Business Operations Research
|Entrepreneurship and Marketing
What Majors Make the Most Money: Highest-Paying Degrees in Detail
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $120,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $80,000
- Highest-Paying Pharmacy Careers: Pharmacists, pharmacometricians, hospital pharmacists
A major in pharmacy covers the treatment of illnesses through the preparation and administration of medication. As a pharmacy major, you will focus on courses in chemistry, pharmaceutics, and other related specialties in your four-year degree.
A pharmacist’s job is to guide a patient on the use of medication and the effects of using a particular medicine as well as advice on the right way to use, store, and consume medication. To become a pharmacist, you need a strong understanding of the chemical properties of drugs. As such, this major is suitable for people interested in chemistry.
Business Operations Research
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $98,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $102,000
- Highest-Paying Business Operations Research Careers: Operations research analysts, data scientists, operation research engineers
You will acquire standard knowledge of business management and research. Business majors will acquire operations analysis skills which they can use to optimize and develop ways to improve the business system. Business operations research majors can work in various fields as operations research analysts and other high-paying roles.
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $92,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $100,000
- Highest-Paying Engineering Careers: Civil engineers, mechanical engineers, process engineers
There are several relevant majors such as mechanical engineering, petroleum engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and structural engineering. Regardless of your engineering field, you will be taught how to design, and construct various machines, systems, and structures.
There will be a four percent job growth for engineering occupations by 2024, says the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Engineering majors earn some of the highest average starting salaries due to their diverse specialties and highly adaptable skills. Industrial growth has also led to increasing demand for people with construction, optical design, communication, and fabrication skills.
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $89,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $108,000
- Highest-Paying Computer Science Careers: Software engineers, computer engineers, data scientists
People say that computer science is one of the hardest majors to complete. It covers areas like artificial intelligence, programming languages, software engineering, security, computer systems and networks, and human-computer interaction. Considering its focus on the STEM field, it makes sense that computer science majors receive high median salaries.
The job outlook for computer scientists is positive, with a 22 percent growth in the next decade, according to BLS. It can be said that technology majors have one of the best career prospects due to the rise in the tech industry in the last few decades, continuous innovation, and society’s dependence on technology.
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $85,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $111,000
- Highest-Paying Business Computing Careers: IT managers, business analysts, cyber security analysts
This major teaches the relationship between technology and business and how information systems can function to aid businesses. Students in this major will learn computer, software design and programming, operation of management information systems, data analysis, and database design.
The information technology field is expected to grow by 13 percent in the next decade, according to BLS. Business computing majors are the bridge between business and computers in businesses today, which explains why they earn some of the highest median salaries.
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $81,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $85,000
- Highest-Paying Mathematics Careers: Mathematicians, lecturers, postdoctoral researchers
Mathematics majors learn the foundational principles of mathematical concepts and develop their own theories to create problem-solving models that can be applied in businesses, government, science, and medicine. Mathematicians can work in a variety of industries and organizations, including government agencies.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field will grow by 33 percent in the next decade. Mathematicians build mathematical models and theories that tackle real-world problems and contribute to the general population and the field of mathematics. They can also work as post-secondary teachers and impart their knowledge to younger mathematicians.
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $76,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $84,000
- Highest-Paying Economics Careers: Economists, financial analysts, financial managers
Economics majors delve into how organizations, nations, and corporations use the limited resources they have. They also learn applied economics which studies the outcomes of various courses of action based on economic theories. Economics graduates earn handsome median salaries with an estimated 13 percent job increase within the next decade.
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $74,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $74,000
- Highest-Paying Accounting Careers: Public accountants, financial officers, audit partners
Accounting majors study the theories and principles behind accounting, and with that knowledge, they can build, maintain, and audit systems that accurately record the finances of an organization. Accountants help organizations run efficiently by keeping an accurate record of finances, preparing tax returns, and recommending profitable financial practices.
There are a lot of opportunities across various career fields for accounting majors. After completing a four-year degree, they can pursue an entry-level accounting job and gain some experience. A lot of accounting majors go on to become certified public accountants (CPAs).
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $73,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $80,000
- Highest-Paying Interaction Design Careers: UI/UX designers, interaction designers, product designers
Interaction design majors specialize in visual interaction, user experience (UX), or user interface (UI) design. They learn how to use consumer data coupled with research to design interaction platforms that ensure a smooth and pleasant user experience. In a digital-first world, interaction design skills are sought-after as companies strive to continuously improve user experiences.
Entrepreneurship and Marketing
- Bachelor’s Degree Salary: $72,000
- Master’s Degree Salary: $108,000
- Highest-Paying Entrepreneurship and Marketing Careers: Marketing managers, marketing analysts, management analysts
Entrepreneurship and marketing is a valuable major that can lead toward potentially high median salaries. It teaches students how to build companies from scratch, create and market products, and manage risk. Students will learn a huge range of skills, including leadership, critical thinking skills, quantitative skills, and other soft skills they can use to develop innovative ideas and products.
Entrepreneurs are big business builders who possess numerous interdisciplinary skills. You can learn how to become an entrepreneur in and out of school. Marketers are specialists in selling products which is an essential quality of a good entrepreneur. As such, a major in entrepreneurship typically covers several courses in marketing.
How to Pick the Right Major
One of the most important factors to consider when college students are picking a major is potential earnings. However, that is not the only thing that matters. You should also consider your interest and passion, along with the cost of getting that major. This is so you can avoid accumulating huge student loan debt for a degree that does not excite or benefit you in any way.
It is also best to consider the future career outlook for the particular major of interest so you can have an idea of what median salaries you can earn and where you will be in the next half-decade. You can use job sites or the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to find relevant data that can help with this decision.
How Important Is Pursuing a High-Paying Major?
The importance of pursuing a high-paying major depends on your life plan. Earning a high income can not only improve your quality of life but also serves as insurance for unpredictable times in the future. A lucrative career also assures you a comfortable standard of living, the opportunity to retire early, extensive knowledge, experience, and networking opportunities.
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What Majors Make the Most Money? FAQ
Some graduates with high-paying majors will end up with careers in government, energy companies, medical fields, insurance companies, government agencies, various arms in the private sector, and other organizations that require their services. Depending on your major, you can likely earn a good salary to pay off your student debt and monthly bills.
In the long run, the majors that can help you earn more money include STEM majors like electrical engineering, economics, computer engineering, and aeronautics engineering. These majors offer graduates high-paying positions with lucrative average salaries.
The most valuable college majors are those that qualify you for a wide range of job opportunities and whose advanced degrees will unlock various potential careers, high median salaries, and career growth. They include science majors, education majors, engineering majors, business administration majors, healthcare administration majors, intercultural and international studies majors, nursing majors, and technology majors.
The best major will depend on your goals and other personal and environmental factors. There are a variety of fields you can choose to explore. For example, mathematics and statistics is a vast field that covers a broad range of topics. Strong skills in math are always useful. As such, it provides a wide range of career opportunities for a large percentage of people in the field.
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