Best College Majors For High Paying Careers

best college majors high paying careers

Not all college degrees are equal, at least not when it comes to how much money you can make and how likely it is to find a job. A study at Bankrate has come up with a list of degrees, ranked based on how valuable they are.

How Did They Define “Most Valuable”?

Bankrate looked at the median incomes and unemployment rates of people based on which bachelor’s degree they obtained. They also took into account when someone went on to get a master’s degree or even a doctoral degree.

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Breakdown To Find “Most Valuable”

Here’s how Bankrate broke down the data in their study to determine the most valuable degrees.

  • Median Income – 70%
  • Unemployment Rate – 20%
  • Percentage of People with Advanced Degrees – 10%

The data came from the US Census Bureau American Community Survey. This 2017 data was obtained through the IPUMS-USA, University of Minnesota research program.

Overall Findings

Overall they found out that graduates with degrees in STEM fields, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, typically can make more money and are less likely to be unemployed than those who may have majored in the arts.

Engineering degrees claimed 7 of the top 10 spots in the study.  Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering were ranked number one.

Naval Architects and Marine Engineers

The employment of naval architects and marine engineers is projected to grow 12% from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These careers are growing faster than average and are worth looking at going into college. On the other hand, drama and theater arts came in as the least valuable majors. More than 5% of degree holders were unemployed and the median income was $35,500.

Keep in mind that the median income for all those with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) is $55,000 and the unemployment rate was 2.8% according to the data.

Top 10 Best Majors For High Paying Careers

According to the Bankrate study.  Listed schools may have paid for promotional consideration.

Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

  • Median income: $90,000
  • Unemployment rate: 1.6%
  • Advanced degree holders: 29%

Schools with Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Degrees:

Nuclear Engineering

  • Median income: $98,100
  • Unemployment rate: 1.8%
  • Advanced degree holders: 56%

Schools with Nuclear Engineering Degrees:

Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration

  • Median income: $100,000
  • Unemployment rate: 2.2%
  • Advanced degree holders: 58%

Genetics

  • Median income: $85,000
  • Unemployment rate:  1.2%
  • Advanced degree holders: 76%

Electrical Engineering

  • Median income: $99,000
  • Unemployment rate:  2.7%
  • Advanced degree holders: 46%

Architectural Engineering

  • Median income: $74,000
  • Unemployment rate: 1.5 %
  • Advanced degree holders: 29%

Aerospace Engineering

  • Median income: $90,000
  • Unemployment rate:  2.3%
  • Advanced degree holders: 49%

Computer Engineering

  • Median income: $92,000
  • Unemployment rate:  2.8%
  • Advanced degree holders: 40%

Electrical Engineering Technology

  • Median income: $76,000
  • Unemployment rate:  1.8%
  • Advanced degree holders: 30%

Materials Science

  • Median income: $90,000
  • Unemployment rate:  2.0%
  • Advanced degree holders: 66%

10 Least Valuable Majors

According to the Bankrate study.

Drama and Theater Arts

  • Median income: $35,500
  • Unemployment rate:  5.2%
  • Advanced degree holders: 26%

Visual and Performing Arts

  • Median income: $32,000
  • Unemployment rate:  4.1%
  • Advanced degree holders: 23%

Composition and Rhetoric

  • Median income: $37,800
  • Unemployment rate:  4.4%
  • Advanced degree holders: 29%

Linguistics and Comparative Language And Literature

  • Median income: $40,000
  • Unemployment rate:  3.9%
  • Advanced degree holders: 45%

Fine Arts

  • Median income: $37,000
  • Unemployment rate:  4.8%
  • Advanced degree holders: 24%

Film Video and Photographic Arts

  • Median income: $37,000
  • Unemployment rate: 6.5%
  • Advanced degree holders: 15%

Miscellaneous Fine Arts

  • Median income: $38,000
  • Unemployment rate: 5.7%
  • Advanced degree holders: 20%

Music

  • Median income: $36,000
  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Advanced degree holders: 42%

Mass Media

  • Median income: $40,000
  • Unemployment rate: 6%
  • Advanced degree holders: 16%

Cosmetology Services and Culinary Arts

  • Median income: $35,000
  • Unemployment rate: 3.3%
  • Advanced degree holders: 12%

Choosing A College Major

When it comes to choosing a college major, this can be a good list to go by if you are looking for the most valuable. There are other factors that go into the decision such as what your interests might be as well as what is available to you. However, this list can help you really think about what you want to do and what type of career you might have.

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About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.