Best bachelor degrees for you

With the job market in the doldrums and the cost of a college education on the rise, many aspiring college students may want to know which college degrees offer the most earning potential. The answer, however, may not be so encouraging for those wanting to major in the liberal arts. When salary is the deciding factor, engineering and science-related degrees fair the best by far. Moreover, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of these positions are expected to sustain average to above average growth throughout the decade.

Here is a rundown of 30 of the highest paying bachelor’s degrees in rank order, including average starting salary and career options:

Best bachelor degrees for you

Petroleum Engineering

Average Starting Salary: $93,000
Career options: Petroleum engineers create and implement strategies to improve oil and gas well production.

Chemical Engineering

Average Salary: $64,800
Career options: This degree offers careers in manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, healthcare, biotechnology, and business services. Chemical engineers are use the principles of chemistry to solve problems involving the production or use of chemicals and other products.

Nuclear Engineering

Average Salary: $63,900
Career options: Nuclear engineers generally work within nuclear power plants. They research, develop, and monitor the systems and instrumentation used to produce nuclear energy.

Computer Engineering

Average Salary: $61,200
Career options: Those with a computer engineering degree have several career options including computer hardware engineering and computer software engineering. They generally research, design, develop, and test computer hardware and/or software systems.

Electrical Engineering

Average Salary: $60,800
Career options: A degree in electrical engineering gives a person the training to design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of various kinds’ electrical devices including: computer hardware, machinery controls, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Aerospace Engineering

Average salary: $59,400
Career options: Aerospace engineering degrees can lead to careers in aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. These careers involve designing, testing, and managing the manufacture of aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles.

Materials Science & Engineering

Average Salary: $59,400
Career options: Materials engineers are involved in the development, processing, and testing of materials such as metals, ceramics, plastics, semiconductors, and composites to create new materials that meet specified mechanical, electrical, and chemical requirements.

Mechanical Engineering

Average Salary: $58,300
Career options: A mechanical engineering degree is one of the broadest in the field of engineering. In general it involves the research, design, development,production, and testing of various mechanical devices including: electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines, refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material-handling systems, industrial production equipment, and robots used in manufacturing.

Industrial Engineering

Average Salary: $58,200
Career options: Those with an industrial engineering degree determine effective methods of using resources such as people, machines, materials, information, and energy, to produce a product or service. They generally work with manufacturing or information systems.

Software Engineering

Average salary: $56, 700
Career options: Computer software engineers are among the occupations projected to grow the fastest and add the most new jobs over the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Computer software engineers design and develop software programs.

Applied Mathematics

Average Salary: $56,400
Career options: Mathematics is a versatile degree that can lead to several lucrative careers in various industries including: business management, education, engineering, operations research and statistics.

Computer Science

Average Salary: $56,200
Career options: Computer science is another versatile degree that can lead to several careers including: computer network, systems, and database administrators, computer software engineering, and IT consulting.

Biomedical Engineering

Average Salary: $54,800
Career options: Biomedical engineers develop devices and procedures that involve medical and health-related concerns.

Civil Engineering

Average Salary: $53,500
Career options: This degree involves various fields in engineering such as: building structure, water resources, construction, transportation, and geo-technical engineering. Civil engineers typically design and oversee the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems.

Building Construction

Average Salary: $52,900
Career options: A building construction degree can lead to several careers, including construction managers and construction and building inspectors, and construction project cost estimators


Average Salary: $52,700
Career options: Those with a nursing degree have several career options to choose from including: a registered nurse, vocational nurse, and a clinical administrator in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.

Occupational Health and Safety

Average Salary: $52,300
Career options: Those with a degree in occupational health and safety can pursue careers in occupational health and safety engineering or in health safety inspections. Both involve identifying, measuring, and preventing potential health hazards within work and organizational spaces.

Environmental Engineering

Average Salary: $51,000
Career options: Environmental engineers are involved with regional and global environmental issues. They develop environmental solutions and systems concerning water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues.

Other good-paying majors and degrees include:

  • Management Information Systems $50900
  • Physics $50,700
  • Construction Management $50,400
  • Statistics $50,000
  • Information Technology $49,600
  • Supply Chain Management $49,400
  • Industrial Technology $49,400
  • Economics $48,800
  • Food Science $48,500
  • Computer Information Systems $48,300
  • Finance $47,500
  • Biotechnology $47,500