The 10 College Majors With The Biggest Paychecks

College students, petroleum engineer

Photo: Flickr/HWUPetroleum

With college tuitions reaching record highs and the task of finding employment as challenging as ever, selecting the right major can mean the difference between making a good living and staying stuck in student debt.PayScale compiled a list of the college majors that can lead to the highest potential salaries.

They asked full-time employees in the United States who possess a bachelor’s degree (and no higher degrees) about their college majors and salaries. PayScale ranked majors by median starting salary and median mid-career salary.

Unsurprisingly, majors in maths, engineering, and science led to the highest earning potential, while majors in the arts and education led to lower salaries. So which majors will make you rich?

This is part of our series on The Best Colleges In America.

#10 Statistics

Median Starting Salary: $49,300

Median Mid-career Salary: $99,500

What you can do with this major: Statistics majors make great investment bankers. If you work well under pressure and can make quick decisions, a career on Wall Street might be for you.

#9 Computer Science

Median Starting Salary: $58,400

Median Mid-career Salary: $100,000

What you can do with this major: Computer Science majors make good use of their technical backgrounds with careers in computer programming, web coding and design, or video game programming.

#8 Applied Mathematics

Median Starting Salary: $50,800

Median Mid-career Salary: $102,000

What you can do with this major: Applied Mathematics majors are well-suited for teaching positions, in particular calculus, trigonometry, algebra, and other advanced maths courses.

#7 Computer Engineering

Median Starting Salary: $62,700

Median Mid-career Salary: $105,000

What you can do with this major: Computer engineers are experts in the hardware and software of a computer system. They can be employed by software companies, government agencies, or private organisations to manage their data systems.

#6 Electrical Engineering

Median Starting Salary: $63,400

Median Mid-career Salary: $106,000

What you can do with this major: Electrical engineers who are interested in cutting-edge technology excel in the field of robotics, which can advance the fields of health, science, and communication technologies.

#5 Nuclear Engineering

Median Starting Salary: $66,800

Median Mid-career Salary: $107,000

What you can do with this major: Nuclear Engineering majors spend a lot of time with radioactive substances. They are sometimes hired as occupational health and safety specialists, ensuring that workplaces are safe from various environmental and other hazards that may harm employees.

#4 Chemical Engineering

Median Starting Salary: $67,500

Median Mid-career Salary: $111,000

What you can do with this major: Chemical Engineering majors with keen noses can go into the field of perfumery--the science of creating perfumes and colognes.

#3 Actuarial Mathematics

Median Starting Salary: $56,100

Median Mid-career Salary: $112,000

What you can do with this major: Perhaps the most natural fit for Actuarial Mathematics majors is to become an actuary or risk analyst. Companies rely on these positions to help them minimize financial losses and maximise profits.

#2 Aerospace Engineering

Median Starting Salary: $62,500

Median Mid-career Salary: $118,000

What you can do with this major: Aerospace Engineering majors may be realising childhood dreams by working for organisations like NASA or Boeing. Aerospace engineers use their skills to get new flight crafts off the ground, and can even travel to space themselves.

#1 Petroleum Engineering

Median Starting Salary: $98,000

Median Mid-career Salary: $163,000

What you can do with this major: Petroleum Engineering majors are involved in finding sources of oil, safe drilling procedures, and advising oil companies about where oil is available, and how much there is.

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