For those headed off to school in Fall 2014 and those who are in school but undeclared, today we look at which degrees will pay the most. While you may feel like Philosophy of Ethics is a groovy major, you seriously need to ask yourself what you can earn with your degree. If you can’t get a job once you’re out of school, it wasn’t time well spent. And if you’re borrowing to finance your education, ensuring that you are pursuing a course of study that will allow you to pay back your loans is imperative.
Last year, just 29% of college seniors found work prior to graduating – the prime time to job search – and by six to eight months after graduation, just 59% of grads were employed, but that doesn’t mean they were gainfully employed. Many are underemployed or working in jobs that don’t require degrees. Nearly 54% of those age 25 and under holding degrees are unemployed or underemployed. To protect yourself and your financial future, consider one of these better paying majors:
#5 Sciences – There are a huge variety of science majors to choose from including biology, chemistry, cellular biology, environmental science, forensic science, microbiology, physics, pharmaceutics, psychology and many more fields. Those that choose to work in education or public health will earn more modest salaries and those in private labs will earn more, but wages average around $42,000.
#4 Mathematics – If you like number crunching and pursue a major in math, you can work in statistics, actuarial science, cryptography, finance, teaching and an array of other opportunities. Math majors average in the mid-$40,000s and can work at any type of business or any level of school or university. Actuaries earn higher than average and work typically at insurance companies.
#3 Communications – This major is useful in a variety of fields because it teaches valuable interpersonal skills and can land you a job in human resources, public relations or advertising. This is an interesting course of study because it exposes you to a wide variety of courses rather than in-depth in one specific area. Communications majors average salaries in the mid-$40,000s.
#2 Business – This is a catch-all major that covers a lot of potential fields of study. Marketing, accounting, finance, specialty management (including healthcare, hospitality, operations and project management), human resources and international business are just a few of the many options for those interested in the field. Business majors average $53,500 and number crunchers average $58,100.
#1 Engineering – These specialized degrees continue to be top earning fields for those with the skills to survive this complex course of study. Petroleum engineering has the highest average salary at $97,000 followed by computer, chemical, aerospace and mechanical engineering with salaries in the mid-$60,000s. If you were the kid who could never put down your LEGO bricks, this may be for you.
You may not have read the fine print on your student loan documents, but when you borrow for school, you are promising to pay it back. Borrowing tens of thousand dollars (or even more) to pursue a major that will likely leave you unemployable is financially irresponsible and not fair to those that lend to you in good faith. So think hard about your choice and your long-term financial picture.
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