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15 Highest Paying College Majors 2012

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Once the stress of applying to college and deciding where to go to school—and how to pay for it!—has somewhat subsided, students must ask themselves another big question: “What should I major in?” Current unemployment rates are proof that a college degree itself is no longer the golden ticket to success that people once assumed it was. Your likelihood of actually getting a job after graduation can depend drastically on your field of study, and so can your earning potential. While statistics show that young adults with bachelor’s degrees consistently have higher median earnings than young adults with less education, certain college majors can lead to careers that pay substantially more than others.

Choosing a College Major

Students have always choosen their college majors for a variety of reasons—for example, talent or interest in a particular field—but putting salary potential and employment outlook at the top of that list of reasons is becoming more and more common. The authors of College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs, a new book based on Census Bureau statistics, Department of Labor studies, and a 2011 survey of 170,000 college graduates, have released a list of college majors that pay significantly more than others.

Best Paying College Majors

CNN Money reports that median salary for college graduates with full-time jobs in 2010 was $53,976 yet the following 15 majors were linked to careers that paid much more:

1. Pre-med $100,000

2. Computer systems engineering $85,000

3. Pharmacy $84,000

4. Chemical engineering $80,000

5. Electrical and electronics engineering $75,000

6. Mechanical engineering $75,000

7. Aerospace and aeronautical engineering $74,000

8. Computer science $73,000

9. Industrial engineering $73,000

10. Physics and astronomy $72,200

11. Civil engineering $70,000

12. Electrical and electronics engineering technology $65,000

13. Economics $63,300

14. Financial management $63,000

15. Mechanical engineering technology $63,000

Still have your heart set on another career field? Don’t worry too much! The College Majors Handbook authors also pointed out that job satisfaction is another benefit not related to money. For example, English majors, who have a median pay of $44,000 per year, reported job satisfaction equal to people who earned bigger paychecks. The book also points out to keep in mind that “The average employed young person with a bachelor’s degree earned 81% more in 2011 than his or counterpart with a high school diploma.”

Learn more about careers in these and other college majors at Careers.StateUniversity.com. We have hundreds of career profiles containing salary, job outlook, and education/training information.

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Post-Secondary Certificates: Popular Alternative to Degrees

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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