The 20 College Majors That Lead To The Most Satisfying Careers

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Photo: Christina Care via flickr

When college students choose a major, they’re usually considering two things: “Will I be happy doing this for the rest of my life?” and “Can I make money doing it?”The two do not always coincide.

To take a closer look, we examined the latest data published by Payscale’s College Salary Report, to see which college majors lead to the most satisfying careers.

The report includes 1,058 schools and represents more than 80 per cent of all enrolled bachelor’s degree candidates in the U.S.

20. Kinesiology

Grads who find their job meaningful: 71%

Average starting salary: $34,100

Average mid-career salary: $56,000

Potential Careers: Some pursue careers in sports management, fitness personal trainers or exercise specialists.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

19. Microbiology

Grads who find their job meaningful: 71%

Average starting salary: $39,700

Average mid-career salary: $76,200

Potential Careers: Some pursue work as microbiology lab technicians or supervisors and research assistants.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

18. Theology

Grads who find their job meaningful: 72%

Average starting salary: $32,400

Average mid-career salary: $50,700

Potential Careers: Some pursue careers as professors of theology or become pastors.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

17. Exercise Science

Grads who find their job meaningful: 72%

Average starting salary: $31,300

Average mid-career salary: $54,400

Potential Careers: Exercise Science majors sometimes pursue careers as personal trainers.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

16. Health Sciences

Grads who find their job meaningful: 72%

Average starting salary: $39,000

Average mid-career salary: $68,700

Potential Careers: Graduates pursue careers in health and wellness promotion, exercise prescription and programming.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

15. Biotechnology

Grads who find their job meaningful: 73%

Average starting salary: $41,400

Average mid-career salary: $82,800

Potential Careers: Graduates go on to have careers in industrial biotechnology, medical biotechnology and environmental protection and cleanup.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

14. Molecular Biology

Grads who find their job meaningful: 73%

Average starting salary: $40,100

Average mid-career salary: $84,900

Potential Careers: Some go on to pursue careers as medical or clinical laboratory technologists.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

13. Health Care Administration

Grads who find their job meaningful: 75%

Average starting salary: $39,600

Average mid-career salary: $57,800

Potential Careers: People who study this pursue career paths as supervisors in nursing administration, as health care administers, and health care consultants.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

12. Petroleum Engineering

Grads who find their job meaningful: 75%

Average starting salary: $98,000

Average mid-career salary: $163,000

Potential Careers: Most who study this go on to become petroleum engineers.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

11. Elementary Education

Grads who find their job meaningful: 75%

Average starting salary: $31,400

Average mid-career salary: $46,000

Potential Careers: Most go on to become elementary school teachers.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

10. Public Health (PH)

Grads who find their job meaningful: 75%

Average starting salary: $35,000

Average mid-career salary: $51,300

Potential Careers: Some graduates go on to work in environmental health, preventative medicine, health administration or even become elected officials for health policies.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

9. Biblical Studies

Grads who find their job meaningful: 76%

Average starting salary: $32,500

Average mid-career salary: $51,000

Potential Careers: People who studied this pursue careers in education and ministry.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

8. Dietetics

Grads who find their job meaningful: 77%

Average starting salary: $44,100

Average mid-career salary: $54,300

Potential Careers: Most go on to become dietitians.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

7. Child and Family Studies

Grads who find their job meaningful: 78%

Average starting salary: $29,300

Average mid-career salary: $37,700

Potential Careers: Some pursue careers in education, intervention programs, mental health agencies, social service and jobs in juvenile detention centres.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

6. Social Work

Grads who find their job meaningful: 78%

Average starting salary: $33,100

Average mid-career salary: $45,300

Potential Careers: Some use their education to pursue careers as social workers or case managers.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

5. Athletic Training

Grads who find their job meaningful: 78%

Average starting salary: $34,400

Average mid-career salary: $49,800

Potential Careers: Most become athletic trainers and work with athletes in high schools, colleges or even in professional leagues.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

4. Biomedical Engineering

Grads who find their job meaningful: 79%

Average starting salary: $54,900

Average mid-career salary: $98,200

Potential Careers: Graduates go on to work in research facilities, hospitals and universities.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

3. Medical Technology

Grads who find their job meaningful: 80%

Average starting salary: $49,600

Average mid-career salary: $60,200

Potential Careers: These graduates usually become medical technologists.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

2. Special Education

Grads who find their job meaningful: 83%

Average starting salary: $33,900

Average mid-career salary: $48,900

Potential Careers: Most people who choose this major go on to work in schools with special needs students.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

1. Nursing

Grads who find their job meaningful: 86%

Average starting salary: $54,100

Average mid-career salary: $70,200

Potential Careers: Most graduates pursue nursing.

Source: Payscale 2012-2013 College Salary Report

Now see which jobs are secretly fulfilling:

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