Top 10 College Majors with Highest Starting Salaries 2023 – These are the kinds of jobs that might get you a good salary shortly after you graduate from college. As the annual increase in the cost of a college degree pushes the national average higher, the financial repercussions of selecting a concentration will have an even greater influence on one’s future.
Even though receiving a decent return on your financial investment in college is not the primary element in your choice of programs, it should at the very least be a component of the equation.
We used information from Payscale’s College Salary Report to produce a list of the bachelor’s degrees that lead to the greatest starting earnings.
This report ranks the early career salaries each year, including the incomes of those who have just started working in their areas. Those who participated in the study had anything from 0 to 5 years of relevant work experience. The 2021–2022 study included pay data for a total of 827 distinct academic disciplines and majors.
1. Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
As a result of their growing reliance on technology to improve efficiency, businesses and other organizations have a growing demand for qualified people who are able to assist with the maintenance and improvement of their electrical equipment and computer systems.
According to Payscale, the average starting income for graduates who enter the workforce with degrees in these subjects was $108,500, placing it in the top rank for highest starting salary averages. The prospects for advancement are also favorable, with mid-career pay reaching as high as $159,300, which places this occupation in the number three spot on our list.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the United States reports information regarding electrical engineers and computer scientists in two separate categories. In the year 2021, the annual wage for the first group was a median of $101,780, while the annual compensation for computer scientists was a median of $131,490.34.
2. Education in the Art of the Physician Assistant
In the realm of medicine, physician assistants collaborate closely with other medical professionals, including surgeons, physicians, and other healthcare practitioners. You can anticipate working in a variety of environments, such as clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals, among others. In order to begin working, you will be required to obtain a license from the relevant authorities in your state.
According to Payscale, the average beginning wage was $95,900, which was sufficient to earn the number two spot on the list. On the other hand, earnings at the mid-career stage are only $118,500, which places the field at number 76 on the list. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual compensation for medical assistants in 2021 will be $121,530.
It is anticipated that the job growth rate for these experts will be significantly higher than the average rate for all other occupations. It is anticipated that the industry will expand by 28% between 2021 and 2031, although the average growth rate for all vocations is merely 5%, and that 12,700 new positions will become available each year.
3. Petroleum Engineering
When it comes to starting salaries, degrees in various subfields of engineering are consistently at the top of the list. Petroleum engineers are employed in the oil and gas sector of the economy. These experts investigate, devise, and create new strategies for extracting fossil fuels from the earth using a variety of methods.
If you acquire a bachelor’s degree in this field, you might potentially make as much as $93,200, which would put you in third place in terms of salary. The good news is that this increases to an average of $187,300 in the middle of one’s career, which places petroleum engineers in first place by a gap of about $17,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2021, the median annual salary for a petroleum engineer will be $130,850. It was anticipated that the number of jobs would expand by somewhere in the range of 8% between the years 2021 and 2031, which would amount to approximately 1,700 jobs annually.
4. Industrial Engineering with a Focus on Operations Research
This major is a combination of two different areas of study. Students in operations research make heavy use of mathematics and computers in their coursework, and they should also have an interest in economics, statistics, and computer programming. Industrial engineers work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of production processes while also ensuring that things run more smoothly and safely.
According to Payscale, early salaries for this field were recorded at $84,800, which placed them in fourth place. However, the possibility of earning 170,400 dollars by the time you reach the midpoint of your career moves it up to the second-place spot.
These two categories are broken out individually in the BLS report. In the year 2021, the typical yearly compensation for an operations research analyst was $82,360. In the year 2021, the average annual wage for a group of 10 industrial engineers was $95,300. 11 It is estimated that the job market for the former will rise by 23% from 2021 to 2031, leading to approximately 10,300 openings per year. 12 Although the former only has a forecasted growth rate of 10%, the latter is expected to create 22,400 new positions annually.
5. Research on Operation Systems
This is the second time that operations research has appeared on Payscale’s list of the majors that lead to the highest starting salary, but this time it’s in its own category. Degree programs in operations research are typically housed inside the engineering departments of most educational institutions.
According to Payscale, early earnings for operations researchers were recorded at $83,500, making it the sixth highest on the list. When mid-career incomes reach $147,400, the position falls from fifth to sixth place on the list of highest-paying professions.
Even though a master’s degree could be necessary in certain industries, a bachelor’s degree in the correct field might get you a well-paying job almost immediately.
6. Technology Relating to Nuclear Engineering
Research and development (R&D) of the tools and procedures necessary for nuclear energy is the responsibility of experts in this field. Nuclear engineers typically operate in groups and may be assigned to work on either brand new or already existing systems. Others are working to decommission outdated computer systems so they can be replaced. People who work with processes and reactors, as well as those concerned with health and safety and quality control, are considered specialists in this subject.
The average beginning income for a nuclear engineer is $83,500, placing them sixth among all other professions. According to Payscale, however, after reaching the midpoint of their careers, their income plummets to just $106,000, putting them in the 158th position.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nuclear engineers will make a median annual salary of $120,380 in 2021. On the other hand, it is anticipated that employment levels will fall by 11% between 2021 and 2031 in this sector, with only 700 positions anticipated to become available during that 10-year period.
7. Engineering for Metals and Minerals
Metals have the potential to be refashioned into virtually any object imaginable, from computer chips and automobiles to surgical implements and household goods. Metallurgical engineers research metals and the processes that can be used to convert them into forms that are safe for human use.
When you first begin working in the profession of metallurgical engineering, you can anticipate beginning your career with an annual salary of approximately $81,800 on average. During the middle of your career, your salary may reach $122,200, putting you in 58th place on the list. This would be a drop from seventh place.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, these engineers are classified as materials engineers. According to the organization, the average salary for a materials engineer in 2021 will be $98,300. It is anticipated that employment opportunities will increase at a pace of 6% in this sector between the years 2021 and 2031, with approximately 1,700 new positions becoming available annually.
8. Business and the Field of Computer Science
It’s possible that this is the right field for you if you’re searching for a job that will let you put your passion for computing technology to use in a professional environment. A combined degree in computer science and business is recommended for students who intend to work in an information technology environment. It provides people with a grounding in both business and technological aspects. The coursework has a strong emphasis on business and computer science.
According to the College Wage Report, graduates with degrees in computer science and business come in seventh place for the average starting wage, which is $81,100. The compensation at the midpoint of a career in this field, however, does not allow much room for advancement and ranks 279th, coming in at $94,600.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies jobs in this industry as those for computer and information research scientists. In the year 2021, these professionals brought in an average salary of $131,490. It is anticipated that the industry will expand by 21% by the year 2031, leading to the creation of as many as 3,300 new jobs annually.
9. Technology Applied to Electronic Systems
Electronic systems technologists work with a variety of technologies, including computers, robots, and medical equipment, in addition to working with circuit boards and robots. These people, whose abilities are in high demand, are responsible for the design and production of this kind of technology.
The degree begins well, ranking ninth with an average beginning income of $81,000. This places it in the top ten. Unfortunately, those in the midst of their careers may only anticipate earning an average of $91,200, which places them quite low on the list at position 331.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these types of professionals fall under the category of technologists and technicians in electrical and electronic engineering. These people bring in an annual income that averages out to $63,640. It is anticipated that there will be no increase in the number of available jobs between 2021 and 2031.
10. Welding Engineering
Engineers that specialize in welding typically have training in a wide range of scientific fields, such as physics, metallurgy, materials science, engineering, and welding. They are essential to the process of welding structures like houses, automobiles, and other types of construction, which is required for many of these projects.
With an average beginning income of $81,000, these professionals come in at position 10 on the list. They have the potential to reach $126,600 at the halfway point in their careers, which places them in the 37th spot on the list of earnings potential.
Welding engineers fall under the categories of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook. In 2021, the median yearly wage for people working in this category was $47,010. It is anticipated that employment will rise by around 2% between the years 2021 and 2031, resulting in the addition of approximately 47,600 jobs each year throughout that time frame. The majority of these jobs will serve to replace individuals who retire or transition to other types of work.
After receiving their bachelor’s degree, a good number of students go on to earn a master’s or another type of advanced degree. Having said that, the correct bachelor’s degree can bring quite a decent wage, which will enable you to begin repaying your student loans while you decide whether or not it would be beneficial for you to pursue an additional degree.
A background in engineering is among the most promising possibilities because it typically results in a fairly high starting wage.
However, starting wages are not the only factor to consider, as many degrees that lead to high initial earnings fall far down on the list of degrees with the highest salaries at the mid-career point. If a high wage is a consideration that influences your education and job choices, there are certain majors that you should steer clear of.
Those individuals who opt to pursue careers in teaching, social work, or the arts are more likely to obtain lower salaries than their counterparts in other fields. Nevertheless, choosing a college major and deciding on a career path after graduation are both very personal choices that belong to the individual.