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Business // Thinking Smart
David S. Chang

The Best-paying College Majors

According to Payscale, there are 130 majors that colleges offer. For those starting college or going back to school, choosing a major can be a daunting task. Based on data from 1,000 universities and graduates with bachelor’s degrees only, listed here are the top-paying 24 college majors for 2013. The mid-career salary reflects pay 15 years in the job. The universities surveyed include 88 percent of U.S. schools with enrollment of at least 5,000.

24) Medical technology. Starting salary: $49,600, mid-career salary: $60,200 (86th, tie)

23) Industrial technology. Starting salary: $49,700, mid-career salary: $81,300 (36th)

22) Supply chain management. Starting salary: $50,500, mid-career salary: $76,700 (42nd, tie)

21) Applied mathematics. Starting salary: $50,800, mid-career salary: $102,000 (eighth)

20) Information systems. Starting salary: $50,900, mid-career salary: $86,700 (27th)

19) Physics. Starting salary: $51,200, mid-career salary: $99,100 (11th)

18) Management information systems. Starting salary: $51,600, mid-career salary: $88,600 (23rd)

17) Mechanical engineering technology. Starting salary: $52,900, mid-career salary: $83,400 (33rd)

16) Civil engineering. Starting salary: $53,800, mid-career salary: $88,800 (22nd)

15) Nursing. Starting salary:$54,100, mid-career salary: $70,200 (61st, tie)

14) Biomedical engineering. Starting salary: $54,900, mid-career salary: $98,200 (13th)

13) Actuarial mathematics. Starting salary: $56,100, mid-career salary: $112,000 (third)

12) Computer science. Starting salary: $58,400, mid-career salary: $100,000 (ninth)

11) Electrical engineering technology. Starting salary: $58,400, mid-career salary: $86,900 (26th)

10) Software engineering. Starting salary: $59,100, mid-career salary: $90,700 (19th)

9) Industrial engineering. Starting salary: $59,900, mid-career salary: $91,200 (18th)

7) (tie) Mechanical engineering. Starting salary: $60,100, mid-career salary: $98,400 (12th)

7) (tie) Materials science and engineering. Starting salary: $60,100, mid-career salary: $91,900 (17th)

6) Aerospace engineering. Starting salary: $62,500, mid-career salary: $118,000 (second)

5) Computer engineering. Starting salary: $62,700, mid-career salary: $105,000 (seventh)

4) Electrical engineering. Starting salary: $63,400, mid-career salary: $106,000 (sixth)

3) Nuclear engineering. Starting salary: $66,800, mid-career salary: $107,000 (fifth)

2) Chemical engineering. Starting salary: $67,500, mid-career salary: $111,000 (fourth)

1) Petroleum engineering. Starting salary: $98,000, mid-career salary: $163,000 (1st)

Not surprisingly, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) majors have the biggest payday. The lowest paying major is child and family studies, with a starting salary of $29,300 and mid-career salary of $37,700. Although the lower-paying majors tend to be in the arts, according to Forbes, liberal arts majors “are as satisfied or more satisfied with their lives as their classmates in other disciplines.” One tip is to pick a minor or second major to increase marketability so you can still do what you love and make money! These are based on undergraduate degrees. david@wealthbridgeinc.com

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