The 16 highest-paying college majors, 5 years after graduation (2024)

If you're looking for a college degree with maximum earning potential, you'll want to be an engineer.

Engineering degrees took nine of the top 16 rankings for college majors with the highest income five years after graduation, according to a recent New York Federal Reserve study of full-time workers.

Computer engineering majors ranked first with an annual median salary of $80,000, followed by chemical engineering and computer science — the only two other majors that pay more than $75,000 annually.

The trend is expected to continue going forward too. STEM jobs — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — are expected to grow twice as fast as non-STEM jobs through 2031.

Here are the 16 highest-paying college majors:

The technical knowledge, mathematical proficiency and problem-solving abilities required in engineering are valuable across many industries. As such, the profession tends to have higher salaries compared to other occupations.

Engineers also get top dollar when they gain more experience. When looking at "mid-career" graduates — those ages 35 to 45 who are working full-time — engineering majors tend to make six figures.

Here's a look at the rankings for mid-career graduates:

Once again, chemical engineering is ranked first, with $133,000 in annual median income. Chemical engineers get paid well since they often work in lucrative sectors like oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and semiconductor manufacturing.

In contrast, the lowest paying majors tend to be in liberal arts or education. Early childhood education had the lowest pay for mid-career earners, with $48,000 in annual median income. That's only $8,000 more than the $40,000 early childhood educators make at the beginning of their careers.

Data for this annual study was compiled from U.S. Census data from 2022, the most recent available. The study excludes majors currently enrolled in school and is limited to a working age population aged 25 to 65, with a bachelor's degree or higher.

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The 16 highest-paying college majors, 5 years after graduation (1)

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The 16 highest-paying college majors, 5 years after graduation (2024)

FAQs

The 16 highest-paying college majors, 5 years after graduation? ›

1. Computer Science. First among the highest-paying majors in 2024 is Computer Science. Computer Science graduates can thank the tech sector's rapid growth that continues to create job opportunities for skilled professionals.

What is the highest paying major 5 years after graduation? ›

College majors that pay the most five years after graduation
MajorMedian Wage Early CareerMedian Wage Mid Career
Computer Engineering$80,000$125,000
Aerospace Engineering$74,000$120,000
Electrical Engineering$72,000$112,000
Mechanical Engineering$70,000$111,000
6 more rows
Jun 4, 2024

What majors tend to get paid the most after graduating? ›

Top 20 College majors with the highest salaries
  • Chemical Engineering. Engineering degrees are a common theme on this list. ...
  • Computer Engineering. ...
  • Aerospace Engineering. ...
  • Electrical Engineering. ...
  • Computer Science. ...
  • Mechanical Engineering. ...
  • Civil Engineering. ...
  • Industrial Engineering.
May 29, 2024

What is the highest paying degree in 2024? ›

1. Computer Science. First among the highest-paying majors in 2024 is Computer Science. Computer Science graduates can thank the tech sector's rapid growth that continues to create job opportunities for skilled professionals.

What is the lowest paying major? ›

College majors that pay the least for mid-career workers
  • Early Childhood Education $48,000.
  • General Education $52,000.
  • Elementary Education $52,000.
  • Secondary Education $55,000.
  • Miscellaneous Education $56,000.
  • Social Services $56,000.
  • Theology + Religion $56,000.
  • Special Education $57,000.
Mar 24, 2024

What is the number #1 highest paying major? ›

College majors that pay the most for mid-career workers
1.Chemical engineering$133K
2.Computer engineering$125K
3.Aerospace engineering$120K
4.Electrical engineering$112K
5.Mechanical engineering$111K
11 more rows
Mar 14, 2024

What 1 year degree makes the most money? ›

What Are the Highest-Paying Associate Degrees?
  • Aviation Maintenance.
  • Respiratory Therapy.
  • Radiologic and MRI Technology.
  • Electrical Engineering Technology.
  • Occupational Therapy Assistance.
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology.
  • Industrial Engineering Technology.
  • Electro-Mechanical Technology.

What jobs pay 6 figures straight out of college? ›

As you start your job search, consider these six-figure jobs you can get with a bachelor's degree:
  • Financial manager. ...
  • Development director. ...
  • Aeronautical engineer. ...
  • Sales engineer. ...
  • Software engineer. ...
  • Architect. ...
  • Actuary. ...
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)
Apr 18, 2024

What major makes a lot of money? ›

Computer engineering majors topped the list of highest earners right after college, making a median annual wage of $80,000, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to 2022 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer engineers (hardware) earned a median salary of $132,360.

What degree will earn you the most money? ›

The highest-paying degree you can get – according to our graduate data – is one in Dentistry. It's a specialised and vocational subject area, where most graduates find professional work in a dental-related role soon after completing their studies.

How to make $100,000 a year with no degree? ›

9 jobs that pay $100K per year without a degree
  1. Information systems manager. ...
  2. Fire chief. ...
  3. Product manager. ...
  4. Senior engagement manager. ...
  5. Radiation therapist. ...
  6. Computer network architect. ...
  7. Senior real estate manager. ...
  8. Technical program manager.
Apr 18, 2024

What degree will be in demand in 2030? ›

Lucrative areas include: Hard Science, Math, Agriculture, Project Management (very important), Public Health, Climate Change Adaptation (skills), Types of degrees: minimum of Master's, preferably PhD level. Important areas to add in that will make you different from the next person: 2nd or Third language.

What major to choose if undecided? ›

General studies is often the first choice for students who haven't yet chosen a major. This option allows you to take a number of different classes in various fields so that you can see which of them interests you the most.

What majors do people regret the least? ›

Top 10 Most Regret-Free College Majors
  • Computer & Information Sciences (72%)
  • Criminology (72%)
  • Engineering (71%)
  • Nursing (69%)
  • Health (67%)
  • Business Administration & Management (66%)
  • Finance (66%)
  • Psychology (65%)
Nov 19, 2022

What majors are most worth it? ›

A recent study published in the American Educational Research Journal found that engineering and computer science majors provide the highest returns in lifetime earnings, followed by business, health, and math and science majors.

What is the hardest major to get? ›

20 Hardest Majors: The Ultimate Guide
  • Materials Engineering. ...
  • Biomedical Engineering. ...
  • Aerospace Engineering. ...
  • Computer Science. ...
  • Chemical Engineering. ...
  • Architecture. ...
  • Chemistry. ...
  • Conclusion: Hardest Majors. It is important to know that your mileage will vary depending on your personal interests and the school you attend.

What 4 year major makes the most money? ›

What Are the Highest-Paying Bachelor's Degrees?
  • Actuarial Mathematics. ...
  • Computer Science. ...
  • Business Computing. ...
  • Electrical Engineering. ...
  • Industrial Engineering. ...
  • Operations Research. ...
  • Applied Economics and Management. ...
  • Public Accounting. Public accountants create tax returns and financial statements for individuals and organizations.

Which graduation degree has highest salary? ›

20 high-paying jobs you can get with a bachelor's degree
  • Materials engineer. ...
  • Information security analyst. ...
  • Software engineer. ...
  • Economist. ...
  • Electronics engineer. ...
  • Hardware engineer. ...
  • Actuary. ...
  • Network architect.
Apr 18, 2024

How to make 100k after college? ›

Table of Contents
  1. Some bachelor's degree jobs offer a high return.
  2. Construction Managers.
  3. Medical and Health Services Managers.
  4. Art Directors.
  5. Actuaries.
  6. Computer Network Architects.
  7. Medical Dosimetrists.
  8. Human Resources Managers.
Feb 8, 2024

What degree gives the highest return? ›

College majors with the highest and lowest return

A recent study published in the American Educational Research Journal found that engineering and computer science majors provide the highest returns in lifetime earnings, followed by business, health, and math and science majors.

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