10 Best Bachelor's Degrees by Salary

A bachelor's degree is becoming a requirement for more and more jobs in today's economy. But going to college isn't a guarantee that you'll get a high-paying job. However, if you pick one of majors on this list, you're far more likely to earn some serious money. PayScale ranked the 10 best bachelor's degrees by salary potential so that you can make a smart decision about your education. Spoiler alert: You might want to brush up on your math skills.


Petroleum Engineering

1. Petroleum Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $96,700
Mid-Career Median Pay: $172,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 56%

Despite advancements in new energy technology and worries about non-renewable resources, petroleum is still responsible for a huge portion of the energy that we rely on. And as a result, Petroleum Engineering is still the major with the highest earning potential on our list. Petroleum Engineering majors report earning $96,700 in the first five years of their career and a median mid-career salary of $172,000.

Systems Engineering

2. Systems Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $66,400
Mid-Career Median Pay: $121,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 50%

Majoring in Systems Engineering will give you the skills to build complex backend engineering systems, and that is something employers want more and more in an increasingly tech-based economy. As a result, these majors earn a median mid-career salary of $121,000.

Actuarial Math

3. (tie) Actuarial Science

Early Career Median Pay: $60,800
Mid-Career Median Pay: $119,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 43%

The only non-engineering subject on the list, Actuarial Science is tied for third highest-paying major on our list. Actuarial Science is an advanced study of statistics. If you choose this as your major, you have a very high probability of earning a big paycheck — the median mid-career pay of these majors is $119,000.

Chemical Engineering

Photo credit: MyFuture.com / Flickr

3. (tie) Chemical Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $69,800
Mid-Career Median Pay: $119,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 56%

Majoring in Chemical Engineering means doubling down on some pretty serious (not to mention in-demand) STEM skills. Chemical Engineering can lead to a variety of high-paying jobs, like Chemical Engineer, Plant Manager, Process Engineer, and more. Workers who earn a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering report a median mid-career income of $119,000.

Computer Science

5. (tie) Computer Science (CS) & Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $71,200
Mid-Career Median Pay: $116,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 45%

Become a Software Engineer or Software Developer with this bachelor's degree, and you could earn $116,000 annually by mid-career.

Nuclear Engineering

Photo credit: Idaho Nat'l Laboratory / Flickr

5. (tie) Nuclear Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $68,500
Mid-Career Median Pay: $116,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 55%

Nuclear energy may be controversial, but it's also lucrative. And as innovative companies continue to look for alternatives to traditional fossil fuels, it will likely become an even more valuable skillset. Workers who majored in Nuclear Engineering earn a median mid-career salary of $116,000.

Electronics & Communications Engineering

7. Electronics & Communications Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $68,000
Mid-Career Median Pay: $115,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 54%

In a global economy, building effective, instant communications systems is becoming more and more valuable every day, so it's no surprise that Electronics and Communications Engineering is one of the highest-paying majors you can earn a bachelor's degree in. Workers who studied Electronics and Communications Engineering report a median mid-career salary of $115,000.

Electrical & Computer Engineering

8. Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE)

Early Career Median Pay: $68,100
Mid-Career Median Pay: $114,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 49%

Electrical Engineering has a reputation for being one of the hardest subjects to earn a degree in. But if you do earn your bachelor's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, you'll be rewarded handsomely — workers with this major report a median mid-career salary of $114,000.

Aeronautical Engineering

Photo credit: BIS Gov UK / Flickr

9. (tie) Aeronautical Engineering

Early Career Median Pay: $63,000
Mid-Career Median Pay: $113,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 61%

Tied for last-place in our top-10 list of highest earning bachelor's degrees, Aeronautical Engineering majors still pull down a tidy $113,000 a year median salary by mid-career. The next time you complain about how much you had to shell out for your latest plane ticket, think about the cost of employing Aeronautical Engineering majors to build your mode of transportation.

Computer Engineering

9. (tie) Computer Engineering (CE)

Early Career Median Pay: $69,600
Mid-Career Median Pay: $113,000
Percent High Job Meaning: 46%

The good news: Computer Engineering majors with 10 or more years of experience earn a whopping $113,000 (median mid-career salary). The bad news: that's the lowest salary on our list of top bachelor's degrees. Oh well, a six-figure paycheck is still nothing to complain about.



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