As the cost of education continues to skyrocket and job prospects remain less than robust in a tough economy, the answer to the question, “What are you majoring in?” seems more important than ever. Concerned about your earning power after college? Read on to learn which degrees typically lead to the highest salaries, both immediately after graduation and in the long term.
Top-Earning College Majors
There are lots of intangible benefits of going to college, such as lifelong friendships, building a professional network, learning more about the world and simply enriching your life. But as college costs continue to rise, many students are wondering if the financial benefits are still worth the investment.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), earning a college degree does still lead to improved economic outcomes. In 2008, NCES reported that the median annual income for individuals who had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher was $55,000 for men and $45,000 for women. By contrast, adults with only a high school diploma or GED earned a median salary of $32,000 for men and $25,000 for women.
But what if you truly want to maximize your earning power? The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) tracks the average salary offers for college graduates each year. In 2011, NACE found that engineering and computer science majors dominated the list of the highest-earning college grads:
|Major||Average Salary Offer|
|Electrical & Communications Engineering||$54,915|
|Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering||$58,549|
|Information Sciences & Systems||$56,868|
|Business Systems Networking & Telecommunications||$56,808|
Long-Term Salary Prospects
Of course, these figures reflect offers designed to attract the best and brightest young college graduates. When considering your long-term earning prospects, it’s also valuable to know what the average salary is for all professionals in the field.
|Profession||Average Salary in 2018|
|Computer & Information Scientist||$100,900|
|Computer Hardware Engineer||$101,600|
|Mechanical Engineering Technician||$51,450|
|Computer Systems Analyst (Information Science)||$81,250|
|Computer Systems Administrator||$72,200|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,