Identifying the highest-paying college majors in 2021 and beyond is becoming a norm for most students planning to join college.
The competition in the job market is insane, while the burden of having to endure huge student loans after completing college requires one to find the most lucrative college majors.
By doing so, you will kill two birds with one stone:- get a well-paying job that will grant you the financial stability and security you desire and also enable you to pay off your student loans within the shortest time possible.
Most of the highest-paying college majors in this list have entry-level salaries of less than $100,000 a year, but mid-level salaries are often 6 figures.
According to the College Salary Report by PayScale, careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics dominate the lucrative college majors list.
The Highest Paying College Majors in 2021
Below are 17 best-paying college majors in the United States along with their average salaries at entry-level and mid-level.
1. Petroleum Engineering
According to the latest statistics by PayScale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, petroleum engineering is the crème de la crème when it comes to the highest-paying college majors.
Petroleum engineers are tasked with designing equipment used in oil and gas extraction and creating systems that maximize their effectiveness.
Current median salary and growth data of petroleum engineering major:
- Early career: $94,500
- Mid-career: $176,900
- Future growth: 3%
2. Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
This is one of the few majors that combine two of the hottest STEM programs: engineering and technology, and is offered as a degree or a dual degree (depends on college).
This college major can land you a lucrative job in tech companies or engineering firms. According to Iowa State University, graduates can work in health care, renewable energy, telecommunications, gaming, retail, and security firms.
PS: Computer Science is also among the highest-paying college majors when taken as a single major. So if you are not into electrical engineering you can still pursue a Computer Science degree program for a lucrative career.
Current median salary and growth data of electrical engineering and computer science major:
- Early career: $88,000
- Mid-career: $142,200
- Future growth: 13%
3. Operations Research
Graduates with majors in Operations Research have been equipped with skills to solve complex business problems, among them being logistics, scheduling and economic forecasting tasks using math, statistics, and technology.
Operation Research experts are equipped with skills such as linear programming, inventory control models, dynamic programming, queuing theory, replacement problems, sequencing, and network analysis.
Current median salary and growth data of Operations Research major:
- Early career: $77,900
- Mid-career: $137,100
- Future growth: 27%
With mind-blowing technological advancements being made, the world is only going to rely more on tech experts and graduates in related fields.
As a cybersecurity expert, you will be equipped with technical skills such as SIEM management, analytics & intelligence, firewall/IDS/IPS skills, intrusion detection, application security development, advanced malware prevention, mobile device management, data management protection, and digital forensics.
Current median salary and growth data of cybersecurity major:
- Starting Median Salary: $75,000
- Mid-Career: $116,000
- Future Growth: 28%
5. Applied Economics and Management
Businesses are now relying more on skilled personnel tasked with coming up with practical strategies for growth based on economic principles and statistical data.
Although entry-level salary packages might not seem that lucrative, mid-career paychecks make it one of the highest-paying college majors in the United States.
Current median salary and growth data of applied economics and management major:
- Early career: $58,900
- Mid-career: $140,000
- Future growth: 12%
6. Nuclear Engineering
Nuclear engineering is one of the well-paying majors in 2021 and is likely to remain at the top for years to come. As we move towards renewable energy, the demand for experts in nuclear energy and engineering will continue to grow.
To increase your chances of landing even better-paying jobs, you should consider getting a Master’s or Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.
Current median salary and growth data of nuclear engineering major:
- Starting Median Salary: $68,000
- Mid-Career: $109,000
- Future Growth: 1%
7. Political Economy
According to the College Board, a major in political economy focuses on how politics and economy interact and how they affect public policies.
Experts with such invaluable knowledge are valuable to governments, research firms, and think tanks. Political economy graduates can lad high-paying jobs as lobbyists, analysts, economists and financial consultants among others.
Current median salary and growth data of political economy major:
- Early career: $57,600
- Mid-career: $136,200
- Future growth: 3%
8. Software Engineering
Software engineering is another computer-related well-paying college major and has been rising in popularity in recent years, mainly due to the technological advancements.
Software engineering focuses on application programming, cloud technology, core computer concepts, and database systems management.
Current median salary and growth data of software engineering major:
- Starting Median Salary: $74,000
- Mid-Career: $102,000
- Future Growth: 21%
9. Actuarial Mathematics
Taking a major in actuarial mathematics can lead you to a high-paying career path as an actuary dealing with the measurement and management of risks and uncertainties. Coursework covers statistics, finance, probability, and economics.
Current median salary and growth data of actuarial mathematics major:
- Early career: $63,300
- Mid-career: $135,100
- Future growth: 3%
10. Electrical Power Engineering
A major in electrical power engineering is one of the most financially rewarding majors in the United States. Electrical power engineers are employed in work designed to generate, transmit, and distribute electrical power.
Electrical power engineers earn as high as $70,000 entry-level salary, with their mid-career paychecks being 6 figures.
- Early career: $72,400
- Mid-career: $134,700
- Future growth: 7%
11. Business Analysis and Management
Business analysis and management experts are tasked with making savvy decisions based on in-depth analysis of data. Experts with these skills analyze information systems, develop IT solutions, define business strategies, and assess business cases among other things.
Current median salary and growth data of business analysis and management major:
- Early career: $57,200
- Mid-career: $133,200
- Future growth: 11%
Although majoring in pharmacy can be a major step towards a lucrative career, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that you will need to advance your studies to doctoral level to earn more than $100,000 per year.
Current median salary and growth data of pharmacy major:
- Early career: $79,600
- Mid-career: $132,500
- Future growth: 11%
13. Aeronautics & Astronautics
A major in aeronautics and astronautics includes learning the fundamentals of aerospace engineering and aerospace system design.
Graduates with this major can work for aerospace manufacturers, engineering firms and even the government. The current median salaries and growth data of this program are:
- Early career: $73,100
- Mid-career: $131,600
- Future growth: 3%
According to the College Board, Econometrics is a business field of study that focuses on analyzing economics using math and statistics. It equips one with economic forecasting and cost-benefit analysis skills.
Current median salary and growth data of econometrics major:
15. Systems Engineering
Systems Engineering is one of the highest-paying college majors in 2021, and for a good reason. It’s an interdisciplinary engineering field that focuses on the design, integration, and management of complex systems.
The discipline utilizes systems thinking principles to organize the pool of knowledge. Systems engineers can work in virtually any industry, from software development and robotics to civil engineering and nanotechnology.
Current median salary and growth data of systems engineering major:
16. Quantitative Business Analysis
Quantitative Business Analysis is a business course that focuses primarily on statistics, information technology, and data analysis to analyze important business elements such as revenues and profits, inventory production, sales volume, customer spending power, and worker output among other invaluable variables.
Current median salary and growth data of quantitative business analysis major:
17. Chemical Engineering/Materials Science and Engineering
Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering are two closely related engineering disciplines that involve natural materials such as ores, coal, and oil.
One discipline focuses on their extraction and utilization while the other seeks to understand their properties in order to develop new materials.
According to the University of California, Berkeley, graduates with this major can work in different fields, including extracting low-grade ores and turning coal into gas or liquid. Current median salary and growth data of this dual major:
- Early career: $76,100
- Mid-career: $127,900
- Future growth: 6%
Highest-Paying College Majors in the United States
These are just a few of the well-paying college majors in the United States and other technologically advanced countries. These courses are worth your time. Besides, they will continue to grow in demand due to the nature of the skills graduates get.