Top 5 Bachelor’s Degrees by Salary Potential

STEM degrees have it, when it comes to earning potential after graduation. In fact, as shown by PayScale’s recent, majors-focused release of the College Salary Report, choice of major makes more of an impact on salary than any other factor, including which school you attend.

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(Photo Credit: edbrambley/Flickr)

Unsurprisingly, four out of five of the top-paying majors on the bachelor’s degree list are engineering degrees:

1. Petroleum Engineering

Early Career Salary: $102,300

Mid-Career Salary: $176,300

2. Actuarial Mathematics

Early Career Salary: $60,800

Mid-Career Salary: $119,600

3. Nuclear Engineering

Early Career Salary: $67,000

Mid-Career Salary: $118,800

4. Chemical Engineering

Early Career Salary: $69,600

Mid-Career Salary: $116,700

5. Electronics & Communications Engineering

Early Career Salary: $64,100

Mid-Career Salary: $113,200

If none of these majors inspires you, don’t despair; humanities majors can earn respectable salaries as well, especially at mid-career. For example, despite what your parents might have told you, philosophy majors ranked highest among humanities for mid-career salaries — $84,000 annually, after 10 years. Global and international studies, history, and English also made a respectable showing.

Bottom line: the best way to choose a major is to do your research and then follow your heart. If you won’t enjoy being a petroleum engineer or an actuary, a high salary probably won’t offset the effects of toiling every day at a job you don’t like.

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