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Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career

“Do what you love, and the money will follow.” Well-meaning friends and family members may utter those words as you head off to college. And they’re right—to a point. After graduation, money almost certainly will follow. On average, a worker with a bachelor’s degree earns nearly double the pay of someone with just a high school diploma. But 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, as evidenced by high numbers of online job postings seeking applicants with specific majors. Finally, we screened for career fields related to these majors that offer strong growth prospects for years to come.


Check out our 2014–2015 rankings of the 10 best college majors for a lucrative career.

For each of the 129 college majors, compensation research firm PayScale provided median annual salaries for recent grads (five years or less of work experience) and median annual salaries for mid-career employees (at least ten years of work experience). Total online job postings during 2013 seeking applicants with each of the 129 college majors were supplied by workforce research firm Burning Glass Technologies. Projected ten-year growth rates from 2012 to 2022 for selected occupations related to each college major came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as did median annual incomes for related occupations.


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