When it comes to choosing a college major there are many things to consider. Not least among these considerations is finding the college degrees that pay the most that are in a field you are interested in. Everyone wants to do something they like doing but reality is individuals need a job that will pay the bills and help them meet their financial obligations. So we ask the question which college degrees pay the most? Are all college degrees about equal? Well we know right off the answer to that is no. A doctor or lawyer doesn’t make the same amount of money as a elementary education teacher. But aside from these most well known professions let’s take a look at some of the less known professions and college degrees that pay the most.
A recent article in The Kansas City Star, “Documenting major gaps in salaries” found at kansascity.com researchers take a look at the income gap between different higher education degrees as well as income gap between male and female and the income gap between ethnic groups. Their findings are interesting and we will summarize their findings here. Across the board any higher education degree averages a higher net income over a lifespan but income statistics show that there is a huge income gap in the amount of individual income increase varies greatly depending on the field of study.
Here is a list of the higher education degrees that can lead to the highest paying jobs:
- Petroleum Engineer – $120,000
- Pharmacy – $105,000
- Math and Computer Sciences – $98,000
- Aerospace Engineer – $87,000
- Chemical Engineer – $86,000
- Electrical Engineer $85,000
- Naval Architecture and Marine Engineer – $82,000
- Mechanical, Metallurgical (study of metals), mining and mineral engineering – $80,000
For comparison sake lets look at the higher education degrees with the lowest median earnings:
- Counseling/Psychology – $29,000
- Early Childhood Education – $36,000
- Theology and Religion – $38,000
- Human Services and Community Organization – $38,000
- Social Work – $39,000
- Performing Arts, Health and Medical Prep Programs – $40,000
Another consideration, especially in trying times like today is which career fields have the lowest unemployment rates. The top higher education fields with the lowest unemployment rates include: Geological and geophysical engineering, military technologies, pharmacology, and school student counseling. The jobs that have the highest unemployment rate include: social psychology, nuclear engineering, and educational administration.
One last topic that was discussed in the article was the income gap between gender and individuals from different ethnicity. Women make less than men in virtually every major but the example stated in the article is for a chemical engineering degree where women make $20,000 less than their male counterpart. When it comes to ethnic differences there was also a huge income gap. These figures are comparing finance majors and they show that Caucasians earned a yearly average of $70,000 compared to $56,000 for Asians and Hispanics compared to $47,000 for African Americans.
There are many things to consider but pay is always a top consideration however, an individual should also take into consideration their interests as well as natural talents and abilities. Just having a degree in a specific field doesn’t automatically mean you will excel at it or enjoy it. Before choosing a major talk to people in the industry your are considering, get a feel for what the jobs are like, how much time is required and what the work load and how much time and energy is required for success. Make sure that it is a job you will be able and willing to do.