Top 10 Most Lucrative College Majors in 2021


    University graduate with money tassel
    Burlingham /

    The price of everything – from the grocery store to the dream home – suddenly seems to be spiraling out of control. It sure would be nice to have a job with a few extra coins in your pocket.

    Despite the coronavirus pandemic, college graduate salaries are rising, according to the latest National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) salary survey. The average starting salary for the 2020 class was $ 55,260, up 2.5% since 2019, the association found.

    Some courses are particularly lucrative.

    According to the NACE, the following are the best-paid courses for graduates with a bachelor’s degree. The average starting salary of some of these majors is more than 50% higher than the average starting salary of all majors.

    The salary survey only takes into account basic salaries and does not include any bonuses, overtime or fringe benefits.

    10. Chemical engineering

    Chemical engineer
    Khakimullin Aleksandr /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 72,713

    Chemical engineers use a combination of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems making or using products that range from chemicals to drugs and fuels.

    Some chemical engineers specialize in a particular process while others have expertise in a particular area. They spend most of their working day in offices and laboratories.

    9. Applied Mathematics

    Merkushev Vasiliy /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 73,558

    Applied mathematics students are trained to use mathematics to solve problems in areas such as engineering and science.

    Graduates then go to jobs where they apply math to solve real-world problems, both through better understanding of observed phenomena and through predicting previously invisible phenomena.

    8. Statistics

    Woman statistician
    Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 75,916

    Statisticians analyze data and use mathematical theories and techniques to solve problems in areas such as business, engineering, and science.

    They often work for the federal government or for scientific research and development companies.

    7. Computer and Information Science

    Computer scientist
    Pressmaster /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 78,603

    Computer scientists and information researchers take new and existing computer technologies and try to design innovative applications for them.

    The job prospects are expected to remain excellent, increasing by 22% from 2020 to 2030.

    6. Operations Research

    Operations Research Analyst
    G-Stock Studio /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 80,166

    An operations research analyst uses advanced math and analytical methods to solve complex problems in areas such as business, logistics, and healthcare.

    To get their job done, these analysts use sources of information ranging from computer databases to customer feedback.

    5. Electrical, electronic and communications engineering

    Electrical engineer
    michaeljung /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 80,819

    These types of engineers design, develop, test, and oversee the manufacture of electrical equipment.

    However, future employment growth in this area will be modest compared to some of the other occupations on this list. This is because growth is slowing in areas like manufacturing and utilities.

    4. Computer science

    Computer scientist
    Gorodenkoff /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 85,766

    Computer scientists and information researchers develop innovative applications for new and existing computer technologies.

    This occupational field should have excellent prospects for the coming years, with the number of jobs growing by 22% between 2020 and 2030.

    3. Computer technology

    Computer technician
    Stock-Asso /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 85,996

    Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop and test both computer systems and their components. They spend a lot of time testing their work, analyzing the test results and changing the design if necessary.

    However, the field is expected to grow only 2% between 2020 and 2030.

    2. Computer programming

    A programmer works from home at her computer desk
    PR Image Factory /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 86,098

    Computer programmers write the code behind computer applications and software programs.

    As lucrative as the field is now, the future doesn’t look so bright. Jobs are expected to decline 10% from 2020 to 2030, in part because companies choose to hire programmers in low-wage countries.

    1. Petroleum engineering

    Petroleum engineer
    Ju PhotoStocker /

    Average starting salary for this degree program: $ 87,989

    Petroleum engineers develop methods of extracting oil and gas from underground reservoirs. You can work in offices or at drilling and drilling sites.

    Jobs are expected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030, but oil prices will be a major determinant of employment growth.

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