Did You Choose the Right Major? Here Are the Highest-Paying Fields Straight Out of College

With the country's national student debt ever-increasing, there are more and more questions over what a college diploma is actually worth. Higher education is an investment, with conventional wisdom dictating that if you receive more degrees from better institutions, you are more likely to land a high-paying job. But if that's true for only certain majors and professions, does the promise still hold?

According to the latest report by the Wall Street Journal, humanities majors are still a popular choice among undergraduates. Social sciences/history, education, arts and communications all outranked engineering, while medical programs were in third place.


Image Credit: The Wall Street Journal

But come graduation time, science majors are at a huge advantage; top average starting salaries go to engineering and computer science graduates, with business being the only other high-paying major on the list.

Still, it's not all good news for those graduates either. Average starting salaries for engineering and computer science majors decreased in 2013, along with education.


Image Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Given the discrepancy between starting salaries of different majors, it may be tempting to suggest that certain fields are more worth investing in. Last month, President Barack Obama argued as much when he talked about the need for more useful vocational training. "A lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career, but I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree," he said.

But while that may be an accurate assessment of the overall post-graduate job market, that does not mean all college students should suddenly switch to engineering and tech-related majors. After all, the current salary figures are linked to the number of qualified graduates on the market: A big influx of engineering and tech graduates in the labor force would lead to an increased demand for those jobs, but there wouldn't necessarily be an increased availability of positions to hire all those people. While these fields may seem like attractive options for now, there is no guarantee that an engineering or tech diploma means you are set for life.

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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