Most Popular Degrees vs. Highest Paying Profession
It seems that most students who go to college these days are considering their aspirations over their bank accounts. Recent changes in the economy over the past few years have not prompted students to earn college degrees based on money alone.
The most popular degree pursued by college students today is business, with an average yearly earning potential of $57,132. Compare this with a petroleum engineer who earns the highest average salary in the United States – $83,121 per year, yet is not considered one of the top 10 popular major fields of study.
With post-secondary education enrollment at an all-time high, surprisingly students’ second most popular majors to study are social sciences and history, which pay an average of $36,368. Compare this to the second-highest paying profession – chemical engineering – which pays an average yearly salary of $64,902.
Placing third in popularity is a career that pays an average yearly salary of $29,414. Despite cuts in spending and current layoffs, education still remains a popular choice among college students. Mining engineering is the third highest-paying profession at $60,404 annually.
Coming in fourth for the highest-paying career at $61,738 is computer engineering, which pays an average of $20,000 per year more than the fourth most popular degree choice: health professions and related clinical sciences – $41,173.
Psychology continues to be a popular choice among college students, paying an average of $46,153 after graduation. Compare that to computer science, with average annual earnings at approximately $61,407.
Despite the traditionally low-paying nature of this career, visual and performing arts comes in sixth place in popularity. Its average yearly salary of $22,793 is a far cry from the sixth highest paying career, electrical engineering, which averages $60,125 annually.
Placing seventh among the highest-paying careers at $58,766 is electrical engineering. Placing laterally in popularity, however, are biological and biomedical sciences majors, who earn an average of $38,896 per year.
Communication, journalism, and related programs are next in popularity, with an average yearly pay scale of $30,921, while industrial engineering, in eighth place for highest paying career, pays an average of $58,358 per year.
Surprisingly, the ninth highest-paying career pays more than the most popular degree choice on the list but does not pay more than the ninth most popular major field of study. Systems engineering has a yearly average pay of $57,438. Compare that to the ninth most popular degree – engineering – which averages $67,500 yearly.
English language and literature is a popular choice among college students and pays an average salary of $31,976 yearly. Compare that to $56,447 that employees earn in engineering technology, the tenth highest-paying job.
The liberal arts field continues to attract its fair share of students. Graduates earn an average of $36,500. Compare that to the eleventh highest-paying occupation in the United States – actuarial science – which pays a yearly average salary of $56,320.
The separation between the twelfth most popular degree and the twelfth highest-paying degree is about $10,000. While students continue to flock to computer science programs and graduate with average yearly earnings of $46,849, aeronautical engineers earn an average of $56,311 yearly.
While it may seem that students would naturally gravitate toward degrees with the highest potential for earnings, when it comes to a lifelong career, students are still choosing intrinsic satisfaction over high earnings.