Entering college or a university is already an overwhelming task. You could be moving to a brand-new home, moving in with a roommate you’ve just met, and have to adjust to a brand-new schedule when you find out which classes you’ll be taking.
It will be worth it!
Once you check out this list of the highest paying majors, you’ll know you have made the right decision. Let’s find out what you should study in order to ensure a long career with financial security and a comfortable retirement plan down the road!
Highest Paying Major #1: Computer Science
If you’re scientifically-minded and interested in technology, you won’t go wrong with a major in computer science. The industry keeps expanding, and if you secure a job right out of college, you’ll be on your way to a life of comfort and security as you work in the tech industry.
Salaries for computer science graduates can get into the six-figure range once you have some experience under your belt and move up with a company. Let’s check out a few options for a career as a computer science graduate, easily one of the highest paying majors today!
Studying computer science will make you well-versed in programming, and with practice, you’ll become an expert in multiple programming languages. Software developers can specialize in a few different areas, including applications or systems software.
Applications software developers can design programs such as video games or business-specific software that makes a customer’s buying experience as user-friendly as possible. They might even create databases for use within an organization.
Systems software developers will design an entire operating system that allows a computer to remain functional and thriving. Systems software developers might also design an entire interface for users to work with a computer system.
The median annual salary for software developers in 2017 was $103,560. This varies slightly according to specialty, as systems software developers earned a median of $107,600, while developers for applications earned $101,790.
Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects are those who build data communication networks. Depending on the size and scope of the network, this could be a local area network, wide area network, or an entire Intranet. Plans are created for a layout of the communication network, and architects will meet with management representatives from a business or organization that commissions the network design.
Network architects need to consider the need for security when designing a network and remember that upgrades will be necessary as the network ages. Upgrades are performed on hardware and software, through new versions of routers and network drivers respectively. Network architects must be able to troubleshoot problems and come up with solutions when a client’s network experiences problems.
The median annual salary of a computer network architect was $104,650. The highest-paying industry for computer network architecture was insurance carriers, which paid median salaries of $110,330. Company and enterprise management came in second place, with a median salary of $109,030.
Highest Paying Major #2: Mathematics
How do you feel about working with numbers on a daily basis? If you love data manipulation and deep analysis, there’s a ton of money to be made as a math major. There’s a reason this is one of the highest paying majors, and it starts with the ability to crunch a ton of complex data in a relatively short time. Just about any industry you can think of has room for someone who can use data to improve company and product performance.
Professional mathematicians create brand new mathematical concepts and theories and use science and research to prove their effect. Some of the subjects covered in the life of a professional mathematician can include geometry and algebra. Mathematicians will have to decide themselves what data to use, and what can be discarded to move forward on a given research project.
Mathematicians design opinion polls to collect their data and analyze the data with established statistical models. Once a conclusion is drawn, they can use the results for their clients and work to improve business decisions, company morale, or the efficiency of a product on the market. Many different industries make use of mathematicians, including government, higher education, and healthcare.
The median annual salary for a mathematician is $103,010. The most lucrative industry for mathematicians when seeking employment is in scientific, management and technical consulting services. These industries pay out a median annual salary of $120,840, followed shortly by research and development in physical, engineering and life sciences with $119,500.
Financial analysts make a career out of investment recommendations for clients, which could be private individuals or entire businesses and organizations. Financial analysts use data from the past and present to examine financial statements and figure out the total value of a portfolio. When they decide, meetings are held with management members or personal clients to present their findings.
There are two types of financial analysts: buy-side and sell-side. Buy-side analysts come up with investment strategies for wealthy companies who need to divide their assets into multiple locations. These investments can be taken from hedge funds, insurance, and non-profit organizations.
Sell-side analysts work as advisors for sales agents who are in the business of selling bonds, stocks, and exchanges.
Even as the global economy expands, financial analysts typically stick to one geographic location as a specialty, retaining knowledge of local trends to ensure investments grant the proper returns.
Financial analysts commanded a median annual salary of $84,300. Depending on the specific industry of employment, this number can increase greatly. For example, a financial advisor in the securities, commodity contracts, and related activities sector made a median annual salary of $100,180. The highest ten percent of financial analysts earned $165,580.
Highest Paying Major #3: Business
Business is known as a fail-safe major, which is why it’s so popular with many students who were previously undecided in college. Having a degree in business not only arms you with the knowledge needed to succeed in the professional world, but it could also position you to launch your own business, where your own product could reinforce business as one of the highest paying majors to study.
Check out some of the available careers as a business major below!
The pinnacle of a business, a top executive creates policies and procedures for an entire department or wing within a business. They are the directors for several activities related to budgeting and daily financial operation for their company. Top executives are in charge of appointing heads of departments, and depending on job performance, can promote or replace members of a team.
Top executives will negotiate high-dollar deals and contract agreements between other businesses and clients. They are experienced in financial statement analysis and can read performance indicators to determine which course of action is needed to finalize and close a deal.
Top executives can also exist outside of the business world, even after majoring in business during college or a university. A major in business could prepare you for a career as a mayor, where you will oversee the budget for an entire city, or a school superintendent, where your business expertise will decide the fate of an educational institution.
For top executives, a median annual salary comes in at $183,270. The very top of the salary chain for executives exists in manufacturing or professional, scientific, and technical services, all of which offer median salaries of over $208,000. Healthcare and social assistance clocks in at $160,940 for a median salary.
Financial managers are in charge of financial statement preparation, forecasting trends for their business or organization, and supervision of employees who work in budgeting and financial reporting. Financial managers review reports to find ways to minimize the cost of daily operations for their company, and in the process, increase profit potential when problem areas are addressed.
Financial managers should be capable of working in teams, as many different managers will organize to contribute different expert opinions and increase communication effectiveness across different departments. Data analysis is now a part of a financial manager’s job as well, increasing their responsibility and value to each company they represent.
Ultimately, financial managers assist their company in making decisions that affect their future in the business world. They must also know local, state, and federal tax regulations to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
The median annual salary for a financial manager is $125,080. The highest earning financial managers earned salaries in excess of $208,000. In the professional, scientific and technical service industry, the median annual salary for financial managers is $147,040.
Highest Paying Major #4: Engineering
What’s the most recent big idea you had for a structure, invention, or device that could improve the quality of life of a certain part of the population? Whatever your interest is, you can find a division of engineering to explore your passion and turn it into a very lucrative career. Not only is engineering one of the highest paying majors, it’s also one of the most diverse in terms of specializations. Let’s check out what kind of engineer you might become!
Despite the specific job title, even civil engineers can explore a wide variety of career options. They can start by looking at long term plans for a city or municipality and begin the planning stages while consulting with government officials. Applications must be submitted to local, state, and federal agencies when a structure is built to ensure compliance with all laws and ordinances, and to ensure the safety and security of the population.
Civil engineers might analyze the results of test conducted on buildings and the materials used for construction. If the test does not produce positive results, engineers will reorganize and come up with another solution which addresses all concerns. When public or private buildings need repairs, civil engineers determine the necessary procedures to fix crumbling infrastructure or decaying exteriors. Depending on the stages of disrepair, entire replacements may need to be constructed.
The median annual salary of a civil engineer is $84,770. The top-earning civil engineers can expect to earn up to $138,110. Most of the time, government contracts pay the highest amounts for median annual salaries of civil engineers. For example, civil engineers working with the federal government earned a median salary of $93,820, while local government jobs produced median salaries of $90,280. A slight drop in salary can be seen with state government work, where the median salary was reported at $82,050.
Working as a mechanical engineer involves problem analysis on the function and output of mechanical devices. Mechanical engineers will also develop brand new devices with the aid of computers and research analysis. Much of their time will be spent inside an office, with visits to job sites happening when one of their creations required direct attention.
After coming up with a design, mechanical engineers will test out prototypes of their projects to gain usable data and find out where there is room for improvement and efficient redesign. Some examples of new products mechanical engineers might produce are combustion engines, elevators, and robots.
Extensive use of computers is required for a career as a mechanical engineer. Special software runs simulations of design projects and helps to save data for future research and development on new projects. Computer can also aid in the improvement of an existing product, helping to release a new and improved version that simply functions better.
Mechanical engineers earned a median annual salary of $85,880. This number can reach as high as $133,900 for the top earners in this career. Looking at specific industries, we can see that scientific research and development services has the highest median annual salary, weighing in at $98,530. Next up is computer and electronic product manufacturing, which sees a median salary of $91,440, followed by architectural and engineering services at $89,180.
Highest Paying Major #5: Dentistry
Dentistry is one of the highest paying majors, regardless of which degree level you pursue. You can make a fantastic salary even if you stop at an associate degree in dental hygiene, but the potential for very high salaries exists for dentists. We’ll take a look at both careers and their job duties below!
Before patients see the actual dentist, they will sit and have their teeth cleaned by dental hygienists. A hygienist removes any existing plaque and tartar from a patent’s teeth, and if necessary, can take X-rays to determine any potential problems with a patient’s teeth. Hygienists are in charge of record keeping and reporting anything they find to the practicing dentist, who will make a final decision about treatment.
During procedures conducted by a dentist, hygienists work as assistants, providing each dentist with the tools necessary to complete a procedure. In some smaller offices, dental hygienists might double as administrative assistants, scheduling appointments and maintaining communication with insurance companies for billing purposes. For some states, hygienists might even be able to diagnose and treat certain conditions without the presence of a dentist.
The median annual salary for a dental hygienist is $74,070. This is particularly lucrative for a career that only requires an associate degree, and the highest paid dental hygienists earned $101,330. In some cases, dental hygienists are employed part time by several different offices, creating a full-time career out of multiple jobs.
Dentists are at the forefront of oral health. They can fill cavities, repair broken teeth, and remove teeth when necessary. For longer procedures, dentists can administer local anesthesia to reduce pain, and afterward, prescribe antibiotics or pain relievers.
Dentists view x-rays of teeth and the jaws to determine the correct course of action for each patient. They are skilled with many different instruments, such as drills, scalpels, and brushes. Because of the wide variety of industry-specific devices, dentists must also be skilled at record-keeping and device maintenance, knowing where to order replacements and repairs.
Several different dental specialty areas exist. Periodontists address gums and all of the bones directly underneath the teeth, while endodontists focus on root canal surgery for an infected or injured tooth. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons will operate on various parts of the face, including the neck and head, and can surgically repair impacted teeth or cleft palates.
Dentists earned a median annual salary of $158,120. The top earners in the profession took in more than $208,000, which also includes orthodontists and oral surgeons. Prosthodontists, who can create replacement teeth, earned a median salary of $185,150.
Which Highest Paying Majors?
After reviewing the highest paying majors in the country, have you decided on a job to pursue? With the high ceiling for salary and the potential to make so much so quickly, don’t forget about the attention you’ll have to pay to your studies. Becoming a software developer means that you have to learn brand new languages through programming, and if the idea of people’s teeth grosses you out, all the money in the world won’t get you out of performing minor surgical procedures as a dentist.
Once you’ve decided to choose one of the highest paying majors from this list as your focus for your degree, remember the salary amounts we talked about, and let it propel you through your academic career!