Peruse PayScale’s College Salary Report, and one thing will immediately become clear: if you are interested in a high-paying job, STEM is the way to go. Of course, picking your college major by salary potential alone is a bad idea. At best, you could wind up highly paid and bored with your life’s work. At worst, well, don’t forget the old George Carlin routine: “Somewhere in the world is the world’s worst doctor. And what’s truly terrifying is that someone has an appointment with him tomorrow morning.” You do not want to be that doctor … or engineer, or scientist. But, the good news is that choosing a major doesn’t mean building an indelible blueprint for your future; there are, for example, tons of science majors who never set foot in a lab after graduation, and make good money.
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These are five of the highest-paying popular jobs for science majors, some more “traditionally STEM,” i.e. lab-focused, than others:
Job Description: Someone needs to make sure that the company stays in line with government and industry regulations. Regulatory Affairs Directors do just that, developing and monitoring the organization’s regulatory policies.
Mid-Career Pay: $146,000
How to Get This Job: The most common major for this job is Chemistry, and many Regulatory Affairs Directors have master’s degrees and PhDs.
Job Description: What do technology companies, software manufacturers, and producers of consumer goods all have in common? A quality assurance department. The director of that department is responsible for making sure the company’s products work as intended.
Mid-Career Pay: $123,000
How to Get This Job: The most common major for Quality Assurance Directors is Biology. Larger companies sometimes require a postgraduate degree related to management.
3. Principal Scientist [tied]
Job Description: The specific duties of a Principal Scientist vary by industry, and you’ll find this occupation in everything from commercial manufacturing to academia, but the role is usually the same: coordinate a team of scientists, and act as a source of expert knowledge for the group.
Mid-Career Pay: $116,000
How to Get This Job: Chemistry is the most common major for this role, but most organizations will require a doctorate.
3. Project Manager, Pharmaceuticals [tied]
Job Description: Project Managers in this industry oversee the development of new products or updates to old products. They manage the schedule at every stage of development, and assign teams to test data and arrange clinical trials.
Mid-Career Pay: $116,000
How to Get This Job: Biology is the most common undergraduate major for this job; many have postgraduate degrees as well.
Job Description: Manufacturing and industrial companies, hospitals, and some government sectors all need Environmental Health & Safety Directors, who ensure compliance with government regulations as well as adherence to internal safety policies.
Mid-Career Pay: $114,000
How to Get This Job: The most common major for this role is Biology. OSHA certification is often required.
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