College Majors with the Highest Starting Salaries (Infographic)
“Go to school. Get a degree. Get a good job.” This classic piece of advice is something we’ve all heard growing up. While picking the right school is an important factor, the choice of major can have a much bigger impact on your future earnings than the school you attend. So, which college majors have the highest starting salaries?
Average Starting Salaries
Based on U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS)* data, we composed a list of the highest median annual earnings of 25- to 29-year-old bachelor’s degree holders.
Highest Average Starting Salaries
The top spot is a position in the general field of Engineering with an average starting salary of about $66,000 a year, followed by Computer and Information System with $60,000 a year. Then is Mathematics, Construction/Electrical/Transportation Technologies, and Health Professions with $54,800, $51,100, and $50,000, respectively. Moreover, Architecture and general Business degrees both earn approximately $49,800. Then, it’s Social Sciences ($47,900), Public Administration and Public Policy ($46,000), and Agriculture ($44,400).
Engineering students with a specific focus on Electrical Engineering can earn a starting salary of about $71,600 a year. A specific focus of Chemical Engineering and Computer Engineering can bring in around $69,100 and $68,000 per year, respectively.
The breakdown of Business degrees shows that a degree in Management Information System and Statistics starts at an estimated $59,000, a degree in Finance starts at $57,600, and an Accounting degree brings in $54,500.
For Social Sciences, the specifics focuses vary as well. Economics ($57,600),Political Science and Government ($49,800) and International Relations ($44,800) are the top starters in their field.
Lowest Average Starting Salaries
On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest average starting salary is Family and Consumer Sciences, as well as Social Work and Human Services, both starting at an average of $34,800. Next, is Theology and Religious Vocations ($35,00) and Fine Arts and Commercial Arts ($35,800). Following that, the fields of Psychology; Physical Fitness, Parks, Recreation, and Leisure; and Education all start at an approximate average of $38,900. Then is Liberal Arts and Humanities ($39,000), English Language and Literature ($39,600) and finally, Criminal Justice and Fire Protection ($39,700).
What Does This Mean?
It comes as no surprise that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors have the highest starting salaries. However, if you are studying arts, education or social sciences, this does not mean that there is no future earning potential. In fact, many of the bottom ten starting salaries lead to high-paying careers over time. Therefore, having a bachelor’s degree is a good investment for your future as it is almost always essential for entry into most well-paying jobs with any possibility for advancement.