College Degrees With High Salary Potential

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Some people choose to pursue a degree in a field that has high earnings potential. While all subjects of study are worthwhile, some degrees are more valuable than others in terms of both salary and long-term employment prospects. If income is a high priority for you, consider pursuing a college degree in one of these higher-paying fields.

STEM majors with high salary potential

For people who are interested in STEM careers, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, you can consider these careers:

Petroleum engineering

A petroleum engineer makes over $100,000 a year on the low side, with some making more than $180,000 a year. The job itself involves designing efficient ways to extract oil and gas from the planet. This can cover a wide variety of applications, such as designing platform drilling equipment to creating drilling procedures that emphasize safety. This job can involve travel because engineers sometimes have to visit various drilling sites.

Actuarial mathematics

Mathematicians who work in the business world can command high salaries. The average salary for a position in actuarial mathematics, in which mathematicians analyze risk and come up with profitable financial solutions for businesses, is around $158,000 a year. While most people work in the insurance industry, actuarial mathematics is applicable in almost every area of business. It takes extensive experience with data analysis, information compilation and proposal development, as well as the ability to work on a team.

Computer science engineering

Whether you’re working with hardware or software, a degree in computer science engineering can lead to high salaries, reaching an average of $112,000 a year. Hardware engineers work to make the physical components of computer systems last longer and run more efficiently. Software engineers, on the other hand, work on the functions of these components to make computer systems accessible and useful. Typically, a computer science engineer has working knowledge of both hardware and software because they’re so closely related and because the two sides must collaborate with each other frequently.

Business majors with high salary potential

If you are interested in business, you can consider these degrees:

Business analytics

A business analytics degree gives you the skills necessary to analyze information for data-driven decisions made by a company. A business analyst works to track key performance indicators and predict the likelihood of future outcomes. Since business analysts are also required to gather the data they analyze, data collection skills in a business environment are necessary as well. A competent Business Analyst can earn a salary of around $129,000 a year.

Construction management

Project manager salaries vary widely, but the highest tend to be reserved for construction managers. By earning a degree in construction management, you could be earning an average of $106,000 by the middle of your career. Construction managers are the people who oversee the completion of construction projects by allocating work, selecting and hiring subcontractors and responding to issues like work delays and emergencies. They’re also responsible for abiding by contract guidelines and complying with local building codes.

International economics

International economics is the study of economic systems across different countries. A degree in this area can open up quite a few high-paying job opportunities. Most people with an international economics degree become analysts for businesses or governments that analyze data to find the best financial solutions. The finance industry is hiring these kinds of graduates as well, as finance becomes more and more global, involving different money systems. Either way, an international economics degree could lead to a career paying around $105,000 a year.

Humanities majors with high salary potential

If you are interested in the humanities, you can consider these college degrees:

Foreign language

Obtaining a degree in a foreign language can be especially useful for a humanities major, but the salary often depends on the particular language learned. To maximize your salary and earn over $100,000 by mid-career, major in Japanese. German and French tend to lead to high-paying salaries as well. Though Spanish is among the top five languages in the world, jobs requiring knowledge of Spanish typically don’t pay as well, with mid-career average salaries of $70,000 a year.


Writing is an essential skill that is required in virtually all positions. Whether your specific degree emphasizes journalism, marketing or technical writing, there will always be a demand for quality writing and communication. Of course, not all jobs in the field are created equal. A journalist may make up to $65,000 a year by the middle of their career, while an advertising copywriter may make up to $80,000 a year.