Guide to Lucrative College Degrees

David Sung | March 31, 2014

What do you want to be when you grow up?  The decisions you make in college can go a long way in paving your way towards your career goals.  Of course, you might not know what exactly you “want to be” in five years, but you do know that you want to be financially secure, especially if you incur student loan debt. We’ve put together some of the most lucrative college degrees that have high salary potential.

According to a study done by the Census Bureau, graduates who majored in a science or engineering field were more likely to be employed versus people who majored in the visual and performing arts.  A degree in engineering can earn you on average $86,000 per year, and can vary based on what type of engineering degree you pursue.  Typically, chemical or petroleum engineers will earn more ($90,300) than civil and environmental engineers ($77,560).

career in Construction Management will require a solid foundation of math and science, as well as understanding the physics behind bridges and buildings. People management is also a plus. If you like getting dirty and building, construction management is for you, with the added benefit of a career that has a projected job growth of 16.6 percent. An average mid-career salary in construction management is about $86,100.

A degree in Information Systems is another booming industry that is expected to grow by 22.1 percent by the year 2020.  If you’re planning to pursue a major in Information Systems, you’re going to learn about database management, applications and programming.  A mid-career salary is averaged at $86,700.  However, be prepared to continuously learn about new trends and tech due to emerging technologies.

If you were interested in economics, statistics, and calculus in high school, then a degree in finance could be for you.  At the college level, you can expect to take courses in accounting, business ethics and of course, marketing and management.  If analyzing financial markets and earning a mid-level salary of around $85,400 sounds like your cup of tea, then this is your major.

Desk jobs aren’t for everyone, so if you’re the type of person who is always on the go and hates sitting still, then nursing could be your calling.  To become a registered nurse (RN), you can build on your associate’s degree to get your nursing program diploma.  If you want to earn $5,000 more per year on top of the mid-career level salary of $70,200, then a bachelor’s degree is necessary.  In order to earn the big bucks, becoming a nurse practitioner with a master’s degree can earn you as much as $116,000.  Nurses will always be in demand, and the projected job growth is at 26 percent.

The best news: a college graduate on average earns $17,500 more than a high school graduate alone.  Those with college degrees have a much easier time finding a job than those who do not.

In the end, it doesn’t have to be just about the money.  After all, college is a place for you to expand your horizons, experience new things, and learn valuable skills and information.  You may also meet people that will be lifelong friends, who may just end up helping you find that lucrative dream job.

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