*Here is an updated list of the Top College Degrees for 2024*
It is often thought that college is the best path to a lucrative career. This is not always the case if you choose the wrong major. Not all college majors are created equal. I’ve created the student’s practical guide to choosing the top 5 in-demand college degrees in 2023 to sort through high-earning degrees and find what’s best for you.
If you are looking for a more in-depth list of some of the best jobs and their majors read, 15 Highest-Paying Jobs And Their College Majors.
Employers target specific degrees and pay well for them. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states those with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 80% more than someone with a high school diploma. 80% is a big number, let’s get the best return on your college investment by choosing a major that will earn a high income.
As an undergrad, it can be difficult to decide what you want to major in, especially if you are young and a recent high school graduate. You really haven’t had time to develop your interests and focus on what you want as a career. If you are just entering college, don’t panic you have plenty of time.
Use Your First Two Years Wisely
Your first two years of college are basically general education. I say basically because if you attend a community college, which I highly recommend you do, to get an associate degree before you transfer, the last semester or two you will take classes that are in your major. I attended my local community college where I majored in business. My last two semesters were when I took the majority of my business classes. You can see the concentration below in my transcripts.
If you go straight into a 4-year university, you will take general education before you apply to a major. Unlike universities, at most community colleges, you can take major classes as soon as you want, providing you’ve met any required prerequisite classes, you don’t have to be accepted into the major to take them.
Ultimately, if you are taking a full college semester load you will have about 2 years, use this time to see what types of courses you enjoy or are drawn to. Do you like biology, math, or computer information classes? Are you more drawn to health, education, and philosophy classes? You will figure out very quickly what classes you struggle with and those you excel in. I’m not implying if you struggle in a subject that you can’t major in it, that is far from the truth, but it will help you navigate the major. More about this later.
Read why all college students should take a full semester load every semester. All College Students Should Take A Full Semester Load.
Sometimes Our Passions Are Not Enough
Here at Your College Sensei, you won’t hear me say the best way to decide on a major is to “find your passion”. That’s not what I’m going to lead with. I’m not saying passion shouldn’t be pursued. I’m saying that sometimes our passions are not employable, they won’t earn us a good income. Therefore, I’m going to ask you to put passion aside and focus on practicability.
I encourage students to pick majors that are employable and high earning. These two factors are of the utmost importance when choosing a major. That way, the educational track they choose can lead to excellent pay and good benefits, creating a solid financial foundation. The goal is to have your major lead you down a path that will support your desired lifestyle, including your hobbies. No one wants to graduate college and struggle to find a job. Or find a job, but one that doesn’t pay well. The last thing I want for you is to work hard, get through college, and then not be able to find a decent job. That’s why I’m going to point you in a direction that when you graduate you will be in demand and on your way to becoming a higher earner, creating a very successful career, and achieving your lifestyle goals.
Numerous Lists Of The Best College Degrees
There are countless lists of the best and most useful majors. You will find many of these lists only focus on what currently is in demand. The list that I have compiled focuses on the majors that are the most employable and some of the highest paying. Remember, these are the two most important factors when choosing a major. Since my list combines these two factors, you may see discrepancies with others. I’m only focusing on associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. It’s a given that those with graduate degrees in areas, like medicine, law, chief executives, and financial managers, are excellent degrees and career choices. They are much longer academic paths, and we want to focus on getting the degree and a good-paying job as quickly as possible.
College Degrees That Make The Most Money
Learning which majors make the most money may help you determine your field of study by narrowing down your options. Almost all STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors, like those in technology, engineering and science are consistently at or near the top of the list. These are solid majors.
All average salaries are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the 2020 year.
1. Computer Science
Median Annual Salary: $91,250
Popular Fields of Study: Computer Programming, Information Technology (IT), Management Information Systems, Web Development, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Database Management, Network Administration, and Software Engineering.
If you are interested in computer science here are 2023 List Of Best Colleges For Computer Science Majors.
Median Annual Salary: $72,250
Popular Fields of Study: Accounting, Business Administration, Business Intelligence, Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Finance, and International Business.
3. Registered Nurse
Median Annual Salary: $75,330
Popular fields of Specialization Once Graduated: Cardiac Nurse, Critical Care, ER, Geriatric Nursing, Surgical/OR, Mental Health, Administrator, Midwife, Oncology, Pediatric, Travel, School, and Aesthetic (cosmetic).
* You Can become a Registered Nurse (RN) with either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree.
Median Annual Salary: $83,160
Popular Fields of Study: Chemical, Petroleum, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Architecture, Industrial, Electronic, Nuclear, Aerospace, Mining and Geological, Biomedical, and Environmental.
An engineering degree Makes The Most Millionaires And Billionaires.
5. Actuarial Science
Median Annual Salary: $111,030
Popular fields of Specialization Once Graduated: Finance, Investment, Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Corporate, Forensic, Pricing, Valuation, and Enterprise Risk Management.
Navigating College Degrees
Within each of these majors, there are fields of study, some of these are harder and some are easier. Some factors are the number of credits taken to earn the degree, the type of classes required, and the amount of homework and study time. The difficulty level will also depend on each student. We all excel in different areas. Remember when I said that just because you struggle in a subject or certain classes doesn’t mean that it can’t be one you major in? If you look closely at the areas of concentration in your major, with a little bit of research, you will be able to sort through the required classes and decide what’s the best fit for you. This is how you navigate the major and decide on a concentration. Let’s look at a few examples.
Engineering majors are some of the most sought-after and highest-paid. Typically, Chemical, Nuclear, Astronautical, Electrical, and Biomedical engineering are difficult majors. While Industrial, Mechanical, Architectural, and Civil are slightly less difficult.
A degree in Business is one of the most popular degrees. Starting salaries are excellent, jobs are plentiful, and a career in business will open doors to very lucrative opportunities. Accounting, Finance, Economics, and Entrepreneurial are some of the hardest. Human Resources, Marketing, Administration, and Management are generally easier.
Again, saying one major is harder or easier is really dependent on the individual student’s strengths and weaknesses. Some of the above majors are math-intensive. If you don’t like math, don’t major in electrical or mechanical engineering. Instead, consider civil or industrial engineering, they have far less math. Steer away from accounting, finance, and economics. Marketing and human resource will be a better fit for you.
In college, math is one of the most feared subjects. Many great majors, like engineering and computer science (and many other STEM majors), have high dropout rates simply because of how math-intensive they are. If you need a few tips and strategies to get you through those math classes be sure to read, How To Pass Your Math Classes,
Top College Degrees Just For You
You are earning top degrees, in engineering and business, which are highly sought after, you’re just choosing a field of study that is more conducive for you and the way you learn. I encourage you, with each of the above-listed majors to look through the fields of study and see what’s the best fit for you. Look at the required classes. If there are a few courses like calculus, data structures, and algorithms, operating systems, anatomy, or physiology, that you think will be difficult, create a plan. Don’t take all the difficult classes in the same semester, take them with courses that are easier. Make sure you find a good tutor. Above all, don’t stress out, mentally prepare for the extra time and effort you are going to need in order to pass the class. And if you happened to fail a class, it’s not the end of the world.
There may be other high-earning, in-demand majors that interest you. Again, be sure you do your research and focus on the specific degree that is required. It’s always important to know what to expect career-wise from your college major.
College Degrees That Stand The Test Of Time
The highest-paid and most employable majors do change a bit over time. However, this list has strong employment growth in all fields. These majors will be in demand over the coming years and will withstand our ever-changing world.
You should select a major that provides you with job security and a strong income. Hopefully, one of them will fuel your passion. If not, try and make it your passion. If that doesn’t happen, that’s okay. Passions that are not high earning and employable can be enjoyable hobbies, perfect volunteer opportunities, or even profitable side hustles, there’s plenty of room in your life for both.