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10 Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career


College is often considered the surest path to a lucrative career. After all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a worker with a bachelor's degree or higher typically earns 79% more than someone with just a high school diploma. But not all college degrees are created equal. "There are more opportunities for those with more education, but it's not just for any degree," says Joshua Wright, of Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), a labor market research firm. "It's really what you major in that makes a big difference."

To determine which majors typically come with the best hiring prospects and pay, we analyzed data for 128 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.


Our top 10 majors present interested scholars with the best shots at success in the workplace, complete with generous incomes and an abundance of job opportunities. Check out the best college majors for a lucrative career.

For each of the 128 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). Workforce research firm Burning Glass Technologies supplied the number of online job postings listed during 2014 that were seeking applicants with each of the 128 college majors. Related jobs were selected based on major-to-job mappings from Burning Glass and The College Board. Projected 10-year growth rates from 2014 to 2024 and median annual incomes for selected occupations came from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI). EMSI, owned by CareerBuilder, collects data from more than 90 federal, state and private sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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