Highest-Paying Bachelor's Degrees
Find out what the highest-paying careers of 2014 are to help direct your choice of major
Money isn't everything, but it doesn't hurt to choose a career path that has good earning potential, especially when you're investing so much in your education. If you're unsure what you want to study, it may be helpful to examine some of the highest-paying bachelor's degrees to see if any of them align with your interests. Of course, if you don't see something on our list that interests you, that's OK. This list is primarily focused on the highest-paying careers immediately after graduation. Keep in mind that while not all entry-level positions offer salaries at this level, they may still provide the long-term earning potential you desire.
Highest-paying bachelor's degrees
Every year the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE, conducts surveys to determine the highest-paying degrees and more. Below are the results of their survey of 2013 graduates:
- Petroleum Engineering - starting at $97,000.
- Computer Engineering - starting at $70,000.
- Chemical Engineering - starting at $67,500.
- Computer Science - starting at $64,700.
- Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering - starting at $64,500.
- Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering - starting at $63,000.
- Engineering Technology - starting at $61,500.
- Management Information Systems/Business - starting at $60,700.
- Logistics/Materials Management - $59,800.
It may not be much of a surprise that the highest-paying careers are in the fields of engineering and computer science, but if those don't interest you, there are several other well-paying options to consider, as well as careers that are rewarding in other ways.
Top 10 industries that hired the most 2013 graduates
In addition to examining the highest-paying degrees, NACE also examines which industries hire the most graduates. While starting salary is important, so is finding a job - and ideally one you enjoy. Even though these areas of study may not provide you with the highest salary, they do present a better likelihood you'll be employed after graduation. This is the data for the class of 2013:
- Educational services - average starting salary: $40,302.
- Professional, scientific and technical services - average starting salary: $49,154.
- Healthcare and social assistance - average starting salary: $43,335.
- Federal, state and local government - average starting salary: $47,123.
- Manufacturing - average starting salary: $55,020.
- Finance and insurance - average starting salary: $54,660.
- Information - average starting salary: $42,763.
- Management of companies and enterprises - average starting salary: $57,891.
- Wholesale trade - average starting salary: $53,691.
- Other service industries - average starting salary: $34,071.
Top industries that offer the highest-paying careers on average
Not sure what degree you want to pursue? Below are the highest-paying industries you may want to consider focusing your major in. Keep in mind, the average salary spans a variety of possible careers within that industry and multiple years on the job.
- Engineering - average starting salary $62,564.
- Computer Science - average starting salary $59,084.
- Business - average starting salary $55,144.
- Communications - average starting salary $44,552.
- Math and Sciences - average starting salary $42,956.
- Education - average starting salary $40,590.
- Humanities and Social Sciences - average starting salary $38,045.
What if the job you want isn't one of the highest-paying careers?
Not to worry! According to US Census data analyzed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (the AACU), liberal arts graduates do just fine in the long term. The study also highlights the need for many liberal arts careers to contribute to a functional society and the ability for salaries to grow in the current market. However, it does say that those who pursue an additional graduate or professional degree do even better. So if you are considering graduate school down the road, weigh whether or not it's needed in your field or if having the advanced degree could raise your salary.
What if you're taking full-time courses but not getting a bachelor's degree?
If you're considering vocational school, an associate's degree, or additional certification, you can still use private student loans to finance your education, and therefore it's wise to know what your future income might be. Toptenreviews.com lists the highest-paying vocational careers. All of these careers require an associate's degree, and they may require additional certification or education to advance your position in the future. However, something to keep in mind if you're considering both associate's and bachelor's degree programs is that these careers generally have a lower total salary cap than careers obtained with a bachelor's degree.
- Computer programmers - average starting salary $47,130.
- Respiratory therapist - average starting salary s $42,165.
- Licensed practical nurses - average starting salary $31,405.
- Radiology technicians - average starting salary $39,605.
- Paralegals - average starting salary $33,280.
- Graphic designers - average starting salary $29,785.
- Dental assistants - average starting salary $25,115.
- Medical assistants - average starting salary $22,405.
- Pharmacy technicians - average starting salary $21,250.
- Massage therapists - average starting salary $20,410.
Invest in your education with college loans from Citizens Bank
Your future salary or earning potential is an important thing to consider when borrowing private student loans. Using student loans to fund your education is an investment in your future, but it's important to consider how you will pay loans back even before you borrow them so you can make a financially wise decision. Whatever degree you're thinking of pursuing, college loans from Citizens Bank can help you finance it. From engineering to English, our private Citizens Bank Student Loan will help cover the cost of tuition for any major, room and board, books, supplies and travel to and from college. Get student loan information like maximum federal loan limits per year, how private student loan rates are determined, how to interpret your financial aid award letter, when to apply and more with resources from Citizens Bank. Have questions? Reach out to one of our Education Finance Specialists and we'll be happy to answer them.