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Degrees That Lead to Best Paying Jobs

Multiple factors come into play when choosing a college major. Your primary challenge is to find a degree program that will qualify you for a career doing the type of work you enjoy.

Another consideration is how much money you can expect to make in your first job. You want to be able to pay off student loans as soon as possible, and begin living the life you envision. Here is a look at the degrees that produce the highest starting salaries for graduates.

It likely comes as no surprise to any college-bound student that degree programs in science and business lead to some of the best-paying jobs. It also is commonly understood that a high salary is not among the rewards of being a teacher or social worker.

Engineering is at the top of the list. Employment in one of this discipline’s myriad specialties featured an average starting salary of $63,000 in 2013. Computer-science majors and business grads were next at $60,000 and $54,000, respectively. Beginning jobs in communications paid $43,000; math and sciences, $42,700; education, $40,000; and humanities and social sciences, $37,000.

Keep mind that these are average figures, with some positions in each field paying more than others. The statistics were compiled by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a nonprofit organization based in Bethlehem, Penn. It connects private companies seeking employees with career-placement offices at universities.

The NACE study, commissioned by The Associated Press, used information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and private sources like the Job Search Intelligence firm. Data was obtained from nearly 90 universities and colleges.

The education and expertise required to be an engineer are not the only reasons that such jobs pay the most money. It is also because of the demand for engineers. Employers continue to report a shortage of qualified applicants for positions in this field.

Of the 10 college majors that lead to the highest salaries, seven involve engineering. Ranking in first place in 2013 were graduates with degrees in petroleum engineering. Their starting pay averaged $96,200. Computer engineers placed second among all graduates, at $70,300. Coming in third were chemical engineering majors, at $66,900.

Students of aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering tied for the fifth-highest starting salaries. They earned an average of $63,900, the same as that paid to mechanical engineering graduates. Next on the list were those who majored in electrical, electronics and communications engineering. They got an average of $62,500. Engineering technology, at $60,900, placed eighth among all professions.

Others on the List
While engineering jobs dominated the list, the study found several other disciplines that paid extremely well. Computer science degrees netted the fourth-best starting pay ($64,100). Finishing ninth and 10th were business management information systems ($60,300) and logistics and materials management ($59,500).

The degrees that led to the lowest-paying starting salaries are those in child and family studies, $29,500; elementary education, $31,600; social work, $31,800; athletic training, $32,800; culinary arts, $35,900; horticulture, $35,000; and theology, $34,700.

Salary Trends
Students who graduated in health sciences in 2013 saw the largest spike in pay, making 9.4 percent more than in 2012 to raise the average to $50,000. Business degrees netted about about $54,000, 7.1 percent more than they did the previous year. Salaries for education graduates were up 5.1 percent to about $40,000, while those for computer-science majors rose 4.3 percent to $60,000.

Beginning jobs in engineering professions paid 4 percent more than in 2012. The smallest increase, 1.9 percent, was reported in the humanities and social sciences. Starting salaries for those careers were about $37,000 in 2013.

However, some social-science professionals are in demand. The starting pay for sociologists soared 10.8 percent in 2013. Criminal justice majors earned 8.1 percent more than in the previous year. At the other end of the scale, those with degrees in the arts made 3 percent less, averaging $35,600.

In general, salaries for college graduates are on the rise. NACE reported that those who received bachelor’s degrees in 2013 received an average starting salary of about $45,000, a 5.3 percent increase from the previous year.

However, the study also found that 53.6 percent of 2013 graduates either did not have a job, or were considered underemployed, as of April that year. This demonstrates the value of earning a degree in a field that needs qualified professionals.

Internships – It’s Not Just About the Money

Turning in a resume that boasts a GPA of 4.0 is something to be proud of, but it’s not enough to make you stand out in a job interview. When you’re ready to start a career, there’s something that matters more: experience.

Survey Says

Nine out of ten employers look for students who completed an internship. Internships lasting at least three months are the most desired. College seniors who interned accepted higher salaries after graduation than those who did not intern prior to graduation. Recent trends show internships are on the rise.

Internships are quickly becoming the new interview. If you secure an internship with an organization, you have taken the first step towards getting a job there. You should consider each day you walk into the office another interview.

A good company recognizes interns as the future. If your skills and attitude meet expectations, and they have already invested time in teaching you about the company, you are likely to fair better in a post-graduate interview than someone who never interned at the company.


Working in a professional environment has its perks, and one of them is free training. You may learn to use a program or earn a certification that others would typically have to pay for in order to add to their resume. Internships allow you to take advantage of free training that you won’t find in your college courses.

Interview Ammo

The more interviews you complete, the more confidently you can answer interview questions. When an interviewer asks you how you handle certain situations, or inquires about a specific skill set, you have the ability to show how you used certain skills in a professional environment. This speaks volumes for what you are capable of. Experience and confidence are a winning combination.


Connections are important in any industry. If you aren’t offered a job at the company you intern at simply because there aren’t any openings, use the connections you made as references for other employment opportunities. In addition to asking for references, ask your boss if he or she has any connections they might be able to put you in touch with.

Choosing a Career Path

It should be said that internships can also help you determine what you absolutely don’t want to do. You may be thrilled that you were hired as an intern, only to find out a few weeks later that the company or the job just isn’t right for you.

Internships enable you to test the waters before jumping too far in. You may even decide to change your major or try new courses as your interests change and develop.

Special Opportunities

Interns often get special perks you wouldn’t get at a normal student job. You may be offered a travel opportunity, VIP passes or other free items. While these won’t help your resume, they’re a nice perk. Just be sure you’re on your best behavior when receiving or using them. Remember, your internship is an interview.

Completing an internship provides you with experience that a classroom simply cannot. Take advantage of this stepping stone while you’re in college to open more doors and gain a better understanding of the path you want to take as a graduate.

Job-search, the term itself has become so clichéd that today even Googling it will land you up with a million search results. A zillion career experts with numerous opinions, each guaranteeing you the most desirable job offer and there you stand, stuck in a dilemma to make the best pick.

It might seem a bit rudimentary, but before putting any step forth, you need to get your basics in tune. Hence, mentioned below are a few such tools that either have been overlooked or not at all considered during your job hunt campaign so far. So, without further ado, just give them a good glance and try whatever it takes to incorporate these into your routine. Who knows, it might just click right!

Digital Tools to Brand Yourself

In this technical era, gone are those days when you had to post a copy of your resume to different companies. The corporate world today runs online and that’s where you need to make a mark. The recruiters in most of the corporations hire employees by getting their databases from search engines like Google and Bing.

You need to start by giving it a try and searching yourself on various search engines. Tools like Trackur and Google Alerts can prove quite handy in the same regard. You can view and control the quantity of information, you want to let out in front of HR professionals mapping and sourcing candidates.

In addition to this, you can also use your social media accounts and a personal blog to make your online presence more efficacious. To sum up the point, ways are numerous, it just depends on your approach and the efforts invested to boost your digital image.

Most Significant One: The Networking Hack

Sources round the globe suggest that networking is one of the most crucial tools that can benefit any job-seeker. While it’s true that vacancies are let out up for grabs amongst job-hunters, but to be truthful, chances that way are quite bleak. What you need to tap is the ‘hidden job market’. Companies in most of the countries today are going for referrals instead of walk-ins. Hence, it becomes imperative for you to collaborate with people through platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Moreover, you can also build and nurture a healthy professional network, just by being a regular participant at various networking events. Meet people, learn more about your industry and make it a regular affair to have conversations with them. As pushy as it may sound, this really works in favor of those hunting for the right internship or employment opportunity.

A Track of All Your Accomplishments

Although there’s a specific section in your resume talking about the medals you hold in the academic arena and all the accolades you’ve won during your time as a student, but is that it?

There sure are ways you can pump up the efforts and make it way more conspicuous. What todays employer looks for are success stories during the walk of your career and this is what you need to target. It proves to be quite a fruitful method, considering the fact that it gives the employer an idea regarding your capabilities and the way you react when tackling adverse situations.

For instance, being an online marketing expert you might list increasing the web-traffic up by 25% as an achievement. But, it does little for a skeptical manager. What you need is to lay down the whole story and explain, how you were up for the task and the challenges you faced while hitting the required target. This way he’ll get over every modicum of inhibition hovering above his head.

Obviously, these were things you always came across but ignored, somehow. What you need at present is the implementation of these ideas to increase the bandwidth of alternatives you may score. Good luck!

Be Employable - Stay Smart

How do you define being smart? For most people, it is a mixture of several positive attributes like intelligence, foresightedness, quick-wittedness and being a fine performer. Apart from this, smart people have smart ways of getting things done. That said, the question that now remains is what you need to do in order to stay smart in college and beyond? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking along these lines.

No Alternative for Books

Contrary to popular belief, smart gadgets do not make you smart – knowledge does! If you are hoping to become smart, be prepared to read through different books and educational resources that enlighten you with different possibilities and existences. Books or resources do not imply your course work. There is a world beyond your school curriculum that is waiting your perusal. Read about things that interest you and be open to learn new things. Such a mindset usually gets you further than your fellow mates.

You can begin by developing a habit of reading thirty minutes before getting into bed. Regardless of whether it is literature, stories, fiction, history, geography or any other genre for that matter; just pick up a book and read it for thirty minutes before getting into bed. This does not only mean whatever you read remains with you for long but also that you will be reading about things you would otherwise not be familiar with.

Best Use of Modern Gadgets

Smartphones, tablets and other similar gadgets have become more of a need of today’s world. If you are fortunate enough to have such devices, put them to the best possible use. The best part about Smartphones is that there is an application for every task. So if you like taking notes at random or you would like to record every idea that crosses your mind, there is an application just for it. Moreover, you can even read books (eBooks to be more appropriate), articles, magazines and other resources on your phone. This not only reduces the weight of your baggage, it also makes reading possible anywhere and everywhere!

Updated With Current Events

Smart people know what is going on around them. So it is best not to lock down your sensors to your surroundings. Read the news regularly and find out details about things that are of interest to you. Even though there are aspects of your surroundings that you may not be willing to research (for instance, some people may find politics quite disturbing), it is best to read a little about it nevertheless. This keeps you updated with the current information.
On a technological note, there are applications that help you sift through news from different publications on the same platform. As said previously, make the best use of technology that you are in possession of!

Playing Intellectual Games

It is not possible to remain surrounded by literature all the time. You need to relax every now and then in order to prevent a burnout. However, you can make the most of this time period by playing intellectual games. Go for crosswords and Sudoku instead of racing and/or fighting games. Look for games that require strategy and mind skills. So even in your leisure time, you are learning something through games!


It has been scientifically proven that meditation does not only help you in relieving stress and clearing your mind but also promotes the development of new brain cells. Meditation can help you in improving focus, attention span and memory. Consequently, you will be able to remember and retain more information and thus get smarter by the day. Reserve at least thirty minutes of your day for meditation – you will see noticeable improvements from the first day!

What employers look for in graduate candidates

For graduate students, one of the most frustrating things about preparing for an interview is knowing what attributes and skills employers are looking for. The competition is quite high for graduate jobs so it is important for candidates to stand out from others. Most employers today look for the below mentioned attributes in graduate students to ensure they’ll be a good fit for their organization:


All employers look for good academic qualifications. They check the level of education achieved and grades to ensure that your qualifications will be suitable for the role you apply for. Graduate students do score extra points with employers in comparison to candidates that do not have a graduate degree.

Extra-curricular experience

It is important for students to ensure that their CV lists their extracurricular activities and work placements. Employers appreciate well-rounded candidates. Showing that you are proactive and that you participate in social groups, volunteering activities and student unions will set you apart from others.

Attention to detail

Take the time to present yourself well to the interviewer to make the right impression. A resume and cover letter with grammatical errors or wrinkled clothing will give an impression that you are indifferent and this can turn-off most employers. Double check all your documents, dress smart and research well before you go for the interview. The job application you send in should also be targeted for the role you apply for. This will show employers that you’ve done a lot of research and taken the time to learn more about what the job entails.

Soft skills

Qualities like team work, communications, problem solving and self-motivation will show that you have skills that will help you go a long way. Employers appreciate candidates that demonstrate the core values that all employers look for in an ideal candidate. Learn more about the work ethics and corporate culture of the company so you can show the employer that you will be a good fit for the organization.


Employers love candidates that show enthusiasm for the opportunity presented to them. Your interview will be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate this enthusiasm. Provide real life examples and evidence that back up your skills and strengths. Extra qualifications, volunteering and internships that show your work in the industry are great examples. Ask questions about the organization and the role you’re applying for to show that you are truly interested in working for them.

International Experience

Employers also value graduate students with some international experience. If you’ve studied or worked abroad, include it in your resume. Your cover letter should mention the lessons and insights you gained from your international experience. If you’ve learned a second language during your international experience, it would provide you an edge over others. However, it is important that you talk to potential employers about how this experience will help you fulfill the duties of the role you’re applying for. Employers like candidates that can show them how well they fit the role in question.