The Best College Majors for Your Career

Picking the right field of study can lead to more job opportunities and better pay.

“Do what you love, and the money will follow.” Ever hear that one? It's true — up to a point. The college major you choose can have a significant impact on exactly how much your passion pays off.

We took an in-depth look at 129 popular college majors, seeking courses of study that typically lead to big paychecks at both the entry level and midway through a career. We also looked for majors that are highly sought-after in the workforce. Finally, we made sure career fields related to these majors offer strong growth prospects for years to come.

Here are three that we looked at:

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Computer Science

Yes, computer science majors are highly coveted technology gurus who can join some of the world’s fastest-growing industries upon graduation. Expect long nights in the computer lab thinking up new ways to attack programming puzzles as your investment for this high-paying field. Graduates will have little trouble finding work, with occupations such as information security analysts and software developers in high demand. The median starting salary is almost $60,000.

Actuarial Mathematics

Actuaries work in the insurance and finance industries to analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. While math majors often head to graduate school after college, actuarial mathematics majors generally dive right into the job market, as a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for those not pursuing a career as an academic. Actuaries enjoy the best of both worlds — high pay and manageable hours — with a median salary of $93,680 for the profession and only about a third of actuaries working more than 40 hours per week.


For nursing, bachelor’s degrees are strongly preferred in major cities, particularly in hospitals. The profession will expand at almost twice the national average rate by 2022, largely as a result of changing demographics. Prospective majors have to meet a variety of prerequisites, mostly science-related, before being accepted into a nursing program. The heart of the major involves health assessment and anatomy courses, among others, which are paired with clinical work. You’ll need to pass an exam in order to get licensed. Office-based nurses work typical weekday hours, but nurses at hospitals should be prepared for work at all hours any day of the week.

Still undecided? Learn about seven more of the best college majors that offer attractive job growth and earning prospects. And if you're wondering about which classes to avoid, check out the 10 worst college majors for your career.

David Muhlbaum
Former Senior Online Editor

In his former role as Senior Online Editor, David edited and wrote a wide range of content for With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, David worked on numerous Kiplinger publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He co-hosted  Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.