The 10 College Majors That Command the Highest Salaries

top paid college majors

Engineering Your Future

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) tracks the top-paid majors among new college graduates. The data are based on the average starting salary for students in each field who received a job offer upon graduation.

As in past years, technical majors - particularly engineering - dominated the top of the list. As you can see below, engineering fields represent seven of the top 10 majors and four of the top five.

So what's the take home message here? If high salary potential is a top requirement for your college education, then start bulking up on those STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes. A technical degree may represent your fastest route to serious earning power.

Top-Paid Bachelor's Degrees in 2013

Major Average Salary Offer
Petroleum Engineering $96,200
Computer Engineering $70,300
Chemical Engineering $66,900
Computer Science $64,100
Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering $63,900
Mechanical Engineering $63,900
Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering $62,500
Engineering Technology $60,900
Management Information Systems/Business $60,300
Logistics/Materials Management $59,500

Source: NACE September 2013 Salary Survey

From Degree to Career

There is another important factor to consider for career-oriented students: How likely are you to get a job offer upon graduation? It's great that the average starting salary for petroleum engineers is a healthy $96,200 this year, but what if that's out of only 20 available positions?

Students seeking to maximize their job security after college may be more interested in the fields that are hiring recent graduates. A job with a lower starting salary is, after all, better than no job at all, particularly if you're working in a field with a high potential for growth. The list below shows 5 industries that are hiring the largest number of recent graduates with bachelor's degrees. If you are still deciding on a major, consider a career in the industries listed below.

Top Hiring Industries for New Graduates

Industry Number of New Grads Hired
Educational Services 452,700
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 305,500
Healthcare and Social Assistance 270,000
Federal, State and Local Government (OES designation) 203,500
Finance and Insurance 95,400

Source: NACE September 2013 Salary Survey

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