Sunday , 21 April 2024

These 10 College Majors Will Prepare You For A Lucrative Career

One way to increase your chances of earning a good living is to pick a college major that prepares you to work in a field that pays well. Check out our list of the best college majors for a lucrative career and see if something on our list appeals to you.

This version of the original article by Stacy Rapacon and Elaine Silvestrini ( has been edited [ ] and abridged (…) to provide you with a faster and easier read. Also note that this complete paragraph must be included in any re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.

…People with higher levels of education generally earn higher salaries. Specifically, people with bachelor’s degrees earned a median of more than $67,000 a year in 2020, compared to $40,600 for workers with a high school diploma. [That being said,[…not all college degrees are created equal…[so] we thought it would be good to know which college majors present the best shots at success and satisfaction in the workplace, complete with generous incomes and an abundance of job opportunities…

…To determine which majors typically come with the best hiring prospects and salary, we consulted with compensation research firm Payscale, which looked at a nearly 159,000 salary profiles submitted over the past year and culled a total of 50 college majors…[and came up with a list that] presents the best shots at success and satisfaction in the workplace, complete with generous incomes and an abundance of job opportunities.

1. Computer Engineering

  • According to, computer engineers combine electrical engineering and computer science to design, build, and maintain hardware in modern computers…and, along with personal devices, computer engineers have a hand in creating robotics, networks, and other computer-based systems.
  • This role tends to include a high amount of research and development, testing, and quality assurance and, as such, computer engineering might appeal to problem-solvers and technology enthusiasts.
  • To complete this major, plan for a math- and science-heavy schedule, including classes in computer architecture, digital-logic design and systems programming and, given how rapidly this field advances, plan on plenty of ongoing education throughout your career.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the field of computer hardware engineering should grow slower than average at 2%, with just 1,000 jobs added this decade. It projects about 4,500 job openings a year, primarily because of the need to replace workers who move to different occupations or leave the labor force.
    • Starting salary: $83,100
    • Mid-career salary: $135,000
    • Job satisfaction: 70% (Percent who said they are extremely or fairly satisfied in their jobs)
    • Job is stressful: 42% (Percent who said their jobs is extremely or fairly stressful)
    • Job has meaning: 46% (Percent who said “very much so” or yes to, “Does your work make the world a better place?”)

2. Computer Science

  • This field of study is more software than hardware. Computer science  can help prepare you for a number of jobs in the hot tech field, from app developer to systems analyst—both of which are among our picks for 30 of the best jobs for the future.
  • Learning to program is a key part of this major.
  • Some classes you can expect to take include the theory of formal languages, intro to program design, digital system design and artificial intelligence.
  • According to the BLS, computer systems analyst jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 7%, or about average for all jobs, with 42,800 jobs projected to be added this decade. About 47,500 jobs are projected to open each year.
    • Starting salary:  $79,700
    • Mid Career Salary: $130,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 68%
    • Job is Stressful: 39%
    • Job Has Meaning: 46%

3. Electrical Engineering

  • There is a high demand for people who can design, build and improve electronic and electrical devices.
  • The coursework looks very similar to that of computer engineering students, a field which is considered a branch of electrical engineering because of the proliferation of computers being used to operate all sorts of products.
  • Expect to take courses such as circuit analysis and design, digital systems, electric components and tools and semiconductor technology.
  • The BLS predicts growth in this field to be average at 7%, with about 20,400 jobs to be added in the current decade. The bureau projects about 22,700 job openings each year, mainly to replace those who move to different occupations or leave the labor force.
    • Starting salary: $77,500
    • Mid Career Salary: $123,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 67%
    • Job is Stressful: 50%
    • Job Has Meaning: 57%

4. Chemical Engineering

  • This major takes the study of chemistry and materials science one step further into the process of producing commercial goods by adding engineering.
  • As a student of this field, you’ll learn how to use raw materials to create products from antibiotics to  weed killer.
  • Typical courses for this path include biochemistry, chemical kinetics and thermodynamics, as well as many other types of math and science.
  • Chemical engineering is a small market with just 26,300 or so of these professionals now working in the U.S. Still, the field has seen growth. It’s up 17.5% over the past decade and expected to rise another 9% over the next decade. Other jobs this major can help prepare you for include: chemist, materials scientist or petroleum engineer.
    • Starting salary: $77,100
    • Mid Career Salary: $130,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 64%
    • Job is Stressful: 55%
    • Job Has Meaning: 57%

5. Aerospace Engineering

  • People who work in the field design and build aircraft, missiles, national defense systems and spacecraft…[and their] degrees can lead to careers in science research, engineering design, marketing or software development or marketing, and more.
  •  Interestingly, the recommended coursework isn’t all science; the web site encourages students to consider learning Russian, Japanese or German, given those countries’ deep involvement in spacecraft development.
  • BLS says there were 61,400 jobs in this field as of 2020, with a projected growth rate of about 8% a year for the next decade, about average for all jobs. The bureau projects about 5,100 jobs being added in the decade, with about 4,000 openings a year.
    • Starting salary: $76,400
    • Mid Career Salary: $131,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 66%
    • Job is Stressful: 47%
    • Job Has Meaning: 55%

6. Mechanical Engineering

  • In the broadest of engineering fields, these majors study machines, including what they’re made of and how they work, with courses such as circuit analysis, fluid mechanics, materials science and thermodynamics.
  • Mechanical engineering students often take five years (or four years including a couple of summers) for their degrees to allow time for internships with hands-on work experience to complement theoretical studies.
  • These degree holders tend to have little problem finding work, with 85.1% being employed full-time.
  • There are more than 299,000 people in the field. BLS projects job growth for mechanical engineers at 7% a year, about average for all jobs, with 20,900 jobs expected to be added this decade. About 20,200 job openings are anticipated each year, on average.
    • Starting salary: $72,900
    • Mid Career Salary: $115,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 63%
    • Job is Stressful: 53%
    • Job Has Meaning: 51%

7. Industrial Engineering

  • Industrial engineers, who develop systems to make products and provide services in the most efficient way possible, are less specialized than mechanical engineers and can find work in a range of industries, from aerospace and motor vehicle parts manufacturing to natural gas distribution and oil and gas extraction.
  • To get a degree in this field, expect to study a lot of math and science, as well as more focused classes such as engineering economics, facilities planning and design and inventory management.
    • Starting salary: $72,000
    • Mid Career Salary: $115,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 73%
    • Job is Stressful: 54%
    • Job Has Meaning: 50%

8. Physics 

  • You may need to get an advanced degree to land this role in many research and academic settings but some jobs to consider with a bachelor’s in physics include mechanical, computer and civil engineers, including technology and engineering, as well as teaching high school.
  • Various physics classes including computational, modern and nuclear physics obviously will fill your schedule. You should also be prepared to do a lot of math, work on experiments both independently and with classmates, and apply your problem-solving skills.
  • It’s a relatively small field, with just 19,500 jobs nationwide in 2020, according to BLS. Just 1,600 jobs are expected to be added annually this decade, with about 1,500 openings a year.
    • Starting salary: $70,900
    • Mid Career Salary: $125,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 68%
    • Job is Stressful: 53%
    • Job Has Meaning: 52%

9. Operations Management

  • Operations Managers seek to control the processes that determine outputs from businesses. In other words, as an Operations Management major:
    • you’ll study operating systems, quality management, product design, supply chain management, and inventory control,
    • you’ll study how equipment, information, labor, and facilities are used in the production process,
    • you’ll learn about every step that goes into making a product or service and how to make each step as efficient and beneficial to the company as possible.
  • The BLS grouped operations managers together with top executives, an occupation expected to grow at a rate of 8%. There are more than 2.7 million of these positions in the United States, with 209,500 expected to be added this decade. The BLS projects more than 247,000 job openings a year.
    • Starting salary: $70,800
    • Mid Career Salary: $107,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 72%
    • Job is Stressful: 61%
    • Job Has Meaning: 47%

10. Management Information Systems

  • Information systems focuses on the study of implementing technology within a company or organization. The management portion of your studies hones in on the business side of the field. In addition to your computer courses, you will study sociology and psychology, internet ethics and project management. In fact, many universities offer this degree through their business schools.
  • An MIS degree can lead you to many different computer-related career paths but the the most common and highest paid positions is as an information systems manager but it will take at least a few years of work experience to climb to this management role and many employers prefer candidates with MBAs. With a bachelor’s, you can break into the field as a computer systems analyst.
  • There are more than 600,000 computer systems analyst positions in the U.S. with another 42,800 expected to be added this decade and about 47,500 job openings a year.
    • Starting salary: $70,300
    • Mid Career Salary: $119,000
    • Job Provides Satisfaction: 70%
    • Job is Stressful: 55%
    • Job Has Meaning:  44%