The 20 Best-Paying College Degrees


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Everyone knows that STEM majors help you get the highest paying jobs. But what happens if no field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) interests you? Do not be frustrated because it is certain that you will find your way to decent salaries in other areas. Choosing a profession is not only a matter of simple choice but one of investment as well. To help you make this very significant investment, we made a top 20 list of the highest paying degrees by the average starting salaries.

20. Fashion Design

Owning a fashion degree opens several doors to high paying jobs because clothing is never out of style. There will always be the need for creating trends, new outfits and clothing designs. With a fashion design degree you can work as a fashion designer, a textile designer or a stylist. Of course, in case you are really good and become a famous designer, your income will skyrocket!

The average starting salary is $49.100, the average mid-career salary is $74.300 in this area.

19. Hotel Management

Variety and versatility are key elements in this industry as they never let you get bored! You can be a lodging manager, responsible for the front-desk, for setting room prices, for doing the HR for the hotel or just for keeping the guests happy like a concierge. You can also choose to be a food service manager, responsible for catering services or a hospitality manager who basically runs every day operations of a hotel or a restaurant.

The average staring salary is $49.000, the average mid-career salary is $86.000 in this area.

18. Political Science

Political science is a field of social science which deals with political activities, behaviours and thoughts and is inevitably a part of the political system. The work of a political scientist is to decipher and reveal the realtionships of various political events and conditions. You can further elaborate by understanding how public life and society works and how people respond to that.  You will at some point get close to the government at least at the level of how exactly it works.

The average staring salary is $48.400, the average mid-career salary is $94.000 in this area.

17. Communication and Media

It is well known that every company needs to communicate their existing so they need a good communications specialist who will be responsible for developing a positive impact of the company to the public. There is internal communication which includes making notes and writing job descriptions and external communication which mainly consists of handling social media appearances nowadays. So, it is a complex field in which you can find exactly what you like and what suits you most.

The average starting salary is $45.000, the average mid-career salary is $97.600 in this area.

16. Interior Design 

Interior design is where art and science meet. An interior designing should not only have an eye for beautiful things but also be good in planning, communication and research. Being an interior designer is actually a lot more multi-factorial than most people think it is. With this major you can also become a visual merchandiser or a drafter.

The median base salary of this area is $44.098.

15. Advertising/Marketing

Advertising and marketing often blend. You can be a sales person and at the same time you are responsible for the marketing of the product. Creatings advertisments, choosing platforms, writing PR articles, organizing events, promoting your business are all niches of advertising and marketing. This major is very broad and can cover many aspects giving the chance to literally work anywhere as an account executive, marketist analyst and media planner.

The average starting salary of these jobs is $44.300, the average mid-career salary is $84.100.

14. Food Science

Food scientist main job is not eating but studying the nature of food and the causes of its deterioration. By studying and understanding these fields, you will help determine which foods are safe for people to eat. You will be eating food samples and look for moulds, yeast and bacteria that might be dangerous for people. You will ensure that food standars are met and that all regulations are kept.

The average starting salary is $45.400, the average mid-career salary is $78.400 in this area.

13. Finance

If someone wants to become a financial accountant, he/she must have a degree in finance. It’s a decent paid job and quite enjoyable provided the fact that you like numbers, records and of course finance. Keeping balance sheets and cash flow statements are within your grasp. With a finance degree you can also become a financial analyst and an investment banking accountant.

Your average starting salary would be $51.400 and your average mid-career salary would be $85.300.

12. Project Management

Project manager is responsible for planning and eventually accomplishing  a project for a company. It is a fascinating job with huge variety and versatility. You need to be creative and communicative because you will have to cooperate with other departments, the management and/or other companies’ managements more often than you can imagine. 

The average starting salary is $52.500, the average mid-career salary is $80.900 in this area.

11. Mathematics

Apart from the obvious which is of course a classroom, a mathematician is needed in various fields such as finance, economics, climatology, data mining, programming, animation, biology and many more. You will also have the chance to develop some theories of your own with the difficult task to prove them lying ahead of you.

The average starting salary of mathematicians is $54.300, the average mid-career salary is $96.500.

10. Statistics

The opportunity to develop your own methods and theories is what a mathematician and a statistician have in common. The main job of a statistician is to analyze large amounts of data and extract specific conclusions from these analyses. It is preferable to specialze in a certain field like healthcare, manufacturing or the government.

The average starting salary is $54.900, the average mid-career salary is $103.100 in this area.

9. Nursing

Your job is to provide nursing and medical care to those who need it. It doesn’t matter whether you work in a hospital or at somebody’s home, a highly paid job is surely expected. Regular communication with the family, a lot of paperwork and helping the doctors in reaching a diagnosis are key parts of the job. With a nursing degree you can work as a registered nurse, a licensed vocational nurse or a case manager.

The starting salary of nursing is $56.900, the mid-career salary is $73.600

8. Physics

Human curiosity has led us perceive many of the phenomena around us but we haven’t fully understood how exactly nature and the universe work. Physics will always be studied and implemented in real life in atomic, molecular and optical field. Or you can practice astrophysics, nuclear physics, medical physics or matter physics. 

The average staring salary is $57.200, the average mid-career salary is $105.100 in this area.

7. Packaging science

As odd as it sounds, a packaging scientist is working with package designs, graphics, food and healthcare packages as well as advanced materials. This field is also connected with marketing, advertising, research, statistics, production and many more. It is in essence a combination of science, innovation, engineering and research. If you are up to something new and enthusiastic, then go for it!

The average starting salary is $61.500, the average mid-career salary is $88.100 in this area.

6. Software Engineering

Maybe the most needed profession at present. Software engineers and programmers are needed almost everywhere. The Internet and the revolutionary smartphones have not only made our life easier and more simple but they can be applied in a huge variety of aspects in everyday living. That means that it doesn’t matter where you work or who you work for, you definitely need a software engineer. An engineer can specialize for systems or apps depending on the needs of the firm you are working for.

The average starting salary is $61.700, the average mid-career salary is $99.800 in this area.

5. Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering deals with any machine that can fly. It is divided in aeronautical engineering (aircrafts) and astronautical engineering (spacecrafts). As cool as it seems it is quite new, innovational and difficult. You have to be committed in working long hours, having a lot of failures and disappointments but the result could be mind blowing. And you can always tell your friends and relatives that you work as a rocket scientist!

The average starting salary is $64.800, the average mid-career salary is $107.00 in this area.

4. Dental Hygiene

Main job is to diagnose and treat the problems of the teeth. You will not only have to give instructions about how to brush our teeth and how to prevent dental issues but if there is an emergency you will have to fix it as well.

You can start with an average salary of $65.800, and have a mid-career salary of $72.800

3. Computer Science

With this degree you can be a software engineer, a web developer, an app developer a network specialist, a systems engineer and many more. Bottom line is that you will work with computers, softwares and networks but the possibilities are truly endless in this field.

You can start with a salary of $66.700 and have a mid-career with a salary of $112.600.

2. Chemical Engineering

A chemical engineer is a scientist who deals with a lot of sciences (microbiology, biochemistry, economics, physical sciences) in order to be able to use chemicals, compounds, substances, material and energy. Innovative fields include nanotechnology, fuel cells and biomedical engineering. There is also a lot of research involved.

The average starting salary is $69.000, the average mid-career salary is $118.000 in this area.

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineering offers a really big salary mostly because you have to work in a dangerous workplace. You will have to locate the natural reservoir of petroleum. There are three types of engineers: reservoir engineers who find the best methods to extract petroleum, drilling engineers who handle the drilling equipment and production engineers who manage the machinery.

The average starting salary of this area is $102.300, and the average mid-career salary is $176.300


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