Majors with the highest-paying jobs by average salary
10. Chemical engineering
Average Starting Salary: $72,713
Chemical engineering combines multiple disciplines like chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics in order to turn raw materials into useful products.
They help make everything from food to microchips to medicine.
To get this degree, you’ll want a strong background in both chemistry and math with some basic knowledge in other sciences.
The program will feature a mix of courses from pure and applied mathematics, computing and computer-aided design and different sciences.
9. Applied mathematics
Average Starting Salary: $73,558
With applied mathematics, you learn all the practical applications of math.
As a result, the jobs you can get with this degree are pretty diverse, with options in science, engineering, medicine, academia and business.
If you’re looking to study a bit of every type of math, applied mathematics is for you. The courses as part of the degree include calculus, discrete mathematics, probability and statistics.
Average Starting Salary: $75,916
Getting more specialized within mathematics, choosing statistics as your major means you’ll be learning how to gather, analyze and interpret data.
But statistics still allows you to apply your skills in several fields in both the private and public sectors. Expect your insights to influence major business and policy decisions.
Expect to study calculus, linear algebra and probability as you work on your degree.
7. Computer and information science
Average Starting Salary: $80,166
This major combines the study of computer programs and algorithms with the study of informatics — that is, how data is gathered, stored, shared and protected.
Potential career options after completing this degree include software developer, database administrator and web developer.
These jobs are always in demand as more and more aspects of human life become digitized. It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a refrigerator with a screen would have seemed ludicrous.
6. Operations research
Average Starting Salary: $80,166
A branch of applied mathematics, the field of operations research aims to use simulations, experiments and models to improve organizations’ decision-making.
Industrial firms, banks, hospitals, transportation systems and governments all need to grapple with their limited resources, and you’ll use your math skills to help solve these quantitative problems.
Expect to study logistics, statistics, supply chain management, revenue management and maybe even machine learning or artificial intelligence.
5. Electrical, electronics and communications engineering
Average Starting Salary: $80,819
This rapidly growing field helps tie the world together through the internet, radio and other telecommunications and computer networks.
That means improving, expanding and maintaining the core components of those networks. You might take courses in electrical circuitry, systems analysis and testing or instrument calibration.
Some popular career paths after completing this major are computer hardware engineer, broadcast engineer and telecommunications technician.
4. Computer science
Average Starting Salary: $85,766
If you’re fascinated by new advancements in artificial intelligence or the way computers and humans interact, a computer science program could be a good fit for you.
With this degree, you’ll focus more on computing theory, research and data analysis than the practical skills emphasized in other programs.
Your course load might involve studying scientific problem solving, data structures and algorithms and database design.
Like some other computing degrees, this major translates well into jobs in software development, cybersecurity and web design.
3. Computer engineering
Average Starting Salary: $85,996
While there’s overlap with computer science, computer engineering is less theoretical and more hands-on.
You’ll still learn about coding and testing software, but if you like the idea of building computers and the devices that let them interact with humans and each other, this major might be better suited for you.
Expect to start off taking courses in math, physics, chemistry, computer science and electric circuitry before applying them in more specialized ways.
2. Computer programming
Average Starting Salary: $86,098
If you think of computer engineering as building the body and computer science as meditating on the soul, a programming degree will prepare you to sculpt a computer’s brain.
You’ll learn all about various programming languages and how to use the code you write to find creative uses for logic problems.
This is a booming industry, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting employment to grow by 13% from 2020 to 2030. And in 2019, ZipRecruiter conducted a study that ranked the related field of software engineering as the No. 1 most valuable skill to employers.
1. Petroleum engineering
Average Starting Salary: $87,989
If you want to make the most money straight out of college, black gold still reigns supreme.
The field of petroleum engineering works to design and develop ways to extract oil and gas from underground deposits to convert it into energy.
You may learn about drilling and well planning, geology, project management and even economics.
This is perhaps the most specialized major on this list, as the degree puts you on a clear career path toward a single industry. That said, many countries plan to rely on oil and gas for decades to come.
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