The cost of attending school to earn degree is more than what most students can afford today. It is therefore not practical for students to train for jobs that don’t provide much earning potential while racking up a lot of debt. Earning potential depends on many different factors. For example, Ivy League Schools like Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton rank at the top when it comes to the earning potential of students after graduation. However, even students that don’t attend these schools have the opportunity to find a job that pays them well if they select the right degree. Given below are the top 5 most lucrative degrees right now (mid-career as well as starting earning potential numbers taken from PayScale):
Average Starting Earnings: $48,800
Average Mid-Career Earnings: $97,800
Graduates with an economics degree have the potential to earn a six figure income by the time they reach the mid-career threshold. The Department of Labor states that students with a good understanding and knowledge of economics have the potential to find employment in many different fields today including insurance, finance and business. Potential career paths they can pursue after graduation include Actuary, Economist and Budget Analyst among others.
- Information Systems
Average Starting Earnings: $49,300
Average Mid-Career Earnings: $87,100
Information systems graduates have a very bright future because there is a lot of demand for their skills not just in the United States but in countries around the world. The Department of Labor in the U.S. estimates that employment numbers for information systems managers is expected to grow by 17% by 2018. Graduates with an information systems degree have many different career options to consider. Some of the most common positions offered to these graduates include Information Systems Manager, Computer Support Specialist and Systems Administrator.
- Actuarial Mathematics
Average Starting Earnings: $56,100
Average Mid-Career Earnings: $112,000
The skills that graduates earn with a degree in Actuarial Mathematics are very specialized and are in great demand in the financial sector. These graduates are employed in pensions, insurance and investment sectors as well as for risk management in larger companies. They can work with actuarial consultancies and have the opportunity to move on to other roles such as career advisors, business operations managers, consultants, alternative risk roles and even in teaching.
- Aerospace Engineering
Average Starting Earnings: $62,500
Average Mid-Career Earnings: $118,000
Aerospace Engineers are responsible for the science and the construction of spacecraft and aircraft. Close to 50% of all aerospace engineers worked in the guided missile, aircraft, space vehicle and parts manufacturing industries. A majority of the jobs are provided by federal government agencies but opportunities are also available in architectural and engineering services, business services, electronics and electrical manufacturing, testing and research services.
- Petroleum Engineering
Average Starting Earnings: $98,000
Average Mid-Career Earnings: $163,000
Petroleum Engineers have expertise in gas and oil drilling, production and reservoir management. There are several different career options for graduates with petroleum engineering degrees such as drilling engineers, production engineers, reservoir engineers and petroleum geologists. However, their work is often high-risk and they are required to work in remote offshore oil rigs.
Pursuing a degree that leads to very specific positions in a field instead of a variety of options is more likely to result in high paying jobs. Degrees like English and Theater often do not pay that well because they do not lead to very specific positions.