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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.

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.

math class 

(Photo Credit: edbrambley/Flickr)

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

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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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Did salary factor into your choice of major? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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