These College Majors Will Earn You The Highest Salaries

As college tuition costs rise, more students may use salary predictions to determine their course of study. We have compiled statistics from studies performed by PayScale, the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, and theUnited States Bureau of Labor Statistics to rank the highest paying degrees based largely on starting salaries. Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by the fields of science and engineering. This can be contributed to several factors, including the increasing rate at which we are discovering new technological advancements, and the skills gap that leaves many engineering positions unfulfilled. Here are the top 10 highest paying majors:

1. Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineers develop the most profitable ways to extract oil and gas from the earth safely. They evaluate the production of wells, develop extraction plans, and design ways to extract deposits of these hydrocarbons from older reserves. The median salary of a petroleum engineer is $137,170. Petroleum engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, specifically petroleum engineering. Civil, mechanical, or chemical engineering could also meet the requirements of employers of petroleum engineers.

2. Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineers design, simply put, airborne machines. These include aircraft, missiles, satellites, and spacecraft. They also design prototypes and test equipment to ensure it meets safety standards and engineering principles. They engage in system engineering, safety and environmental testing, and mechanical and structural design. The median salary of an aerospace engineer is $115,220.

3. Computer engineering

Computer engineering encompasses both electrical engineering and computer science. It is focused on the development of computer components such as memory devices, hardware, and processors. Some computer engineers also work in the software development and systems testing fields. The median salary of a computer engineer is $114,600.

4. Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Pharmaceutical Administration

The pharmaceutical industry involves the discovery, development, testing, and administration of new and existing drug therapies. It is a dynamic field that is challenging and rewarding. Work environments include hospitals, retail pharmacies, and research labs. The median salary in this industry $112,519, but vary depending on the specific career track. Related undergraduate majors include biochemistry, chemistry, pre-medicine, and pharmaceutical sciences.

5. Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers use materials and chemicals to create products like food, drugs, and fuel. They develop and design processes to create or improve products. They also conduct research, evaluate equipment, and establish safety procedures. Chemical engineers make $104,910 annually on average. The majority of chemical engineers studied chemical engineering during their undergraduate career.

6. Metallurgical Engineering

Metallurgical engineers take metals and extract, combine, and transform them for many uses. They study ore mines, design parts and develop plans for working with materials like iron, aluminum, copper, steel, and zinc. Metallurgical engineers can work at mine sites or in research labs. The median salary for a metallurgical engineer is $97,743.

7. Mining and Mineral Engineering

Mining and mineral engineers develop plans and infrastructure for the safe and effective transportation of minerals from mines to processing sites. The majority of this work happens at mines or worksites. Mining and mineral engineers earn a median salary of $97,372. Few schools offer mining and mineral engineering courses, but many institutions offer the opportunity to specialize in this field underneath a general engineering degree.

8. Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers learn how to create and service electrical systems and products. They work on equipment of all sizes, from as small as cell phones to as large as supercomputers. Electrical engineers work in industries such as robotics, consulting, telecommunications and microelectronics. The average salary for an electrical engineer is $95,230.

9. Geological and Geophysical Engineering

Geological and geophysical engineering combines geology and civil engineering to safely and efficiently extract minerals, precious gems, gases, and other natural resources from the earth. Geological engineers are generally focused on the earth’s resources, while geophysical engineering includes how the earth interacts with the moon and sun. Daily work in these fields includes the evaluation of construction sites, tunnels, and mines. On average, geological and geophysical engineers earn $92,250 a year.

10. Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers design equipment and tools such as engines, electric generators, machines, and turbines. They find solutions to engineering problems using mathematics and physics that relate to the functioning of mechanical equipment. Mechanical engineers work with both power-producing equipment as well as power-using products. Because mechanical engineering is a broad field, these engineers can work in many industries including auto research, heating, and cooling, electronics, manufacturing, and biotechnology. Mechanical engineers earn a median salary of $87,370.

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