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10 Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career

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College is often considered the surest path to a lucrative career. After all, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a worker with a bachelor's degree typically earns two-thirds more than someone with just a high school diploma.

But not all college degrees are created equal. “Increasingly, students want to understand the career and income opportunities associated with their college education,” says Lydia Frank, PayScale vice president, in a statement.

To determine which majors typically come with the best hiring prospects and pay, we analyzed data for 126 popular college majors. We looked for courses of study that tend to lead to fat paychecks—both right out of school and farther along your career path. We also sought out majors that are in high demand based on recent online job postings as well as long-term growth expectations for related occupations. Plus, we factored in the percentage of workers with given degrees who feel their jobs are having a positive impact on the world because having a sense of purpose can be just as important as having a good payday.

Our top 10 majors present interested scholars with the best shots at success and satisfaction in the workplace, complete with generous incomes and an abundance of job opportunities. Check out the best college majors for a lucrative career. (Spoiler alert: STEM majors—that is, fields in science, technology, engineering and math—dominate our rankings.)

For each of the 126 college majors, compensation research firm PayScale provided median annual salaries for entry-level workers (with five years or less of work experience) and mid-career employees (with at least 10 years of experience). PayScale also provided “high job meaning” scores, which indicate the percentage of workers with given college majors who say their work makes the world a better place. Workforce research firm Burning Glass Technologies supplied the number of online job postings listed between the third quarter of 2016 and the second quarter of 2017 that were seeking applicants with each of the 126 college majors. Projected 10-year growth rates from 2016 to 2026 for related occupations came from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), a labor-market research firm owned by CareerBuilder. EMSI collects data from more than 90 federal, state and private sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In finalizing our rankings, we combined some similar majors to avoid redundancy.

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