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Finding the Most Lucrative College Majors

April 6th, 2010

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When choosing your college major, you have to take several factors into consideration. Is it something you'd enjoy studying? Are you good at it? Can you handle the workload? How about the earning potential? Knowing how much money you'd make with a degree is one of the few things you can predict before jumping into your coursework. If you value the almighty dollar, consider one of the several majors that will keep your wallet fat after graduation.

According to, engineering majors average the highest starting and mid-career salaries. Topping the list of mid-career earners are aerospace engineers, who make $109,000 per year – that's nearly $50,000 more than the average student after college. They're responsible for the design and construction of aircrafts, spacecrafts and missile systems. Chemical engineers earn the highest starting salaries, pulling in $65,700 during their first year on the job. Students who enjoy chemistry and hope to solve problems related to energy usage and the environment are best fit for the major. Of the non-engineering majors, economics, physics and computer science are the most lucrative. In mid-career, economics majors earn $101,000 per year. They find jobs as management consultants, information technology project managers, financial controller, and business analysts. Physics majors make $98,800 per year working in a variety of fields including industrial science, astronomy and ecology. Computer science majors earn $97,400 per year. They enter careers as software developers, information technology consultants, software engineers and programmer analysts.

In order to be successful with any of these majors, you must possess a passion for math and science. Succeeding in those subjects is a challenge and few students stay the course. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, just four percent of all college graduates in 2009 majored in engineering and computer science, while four times that many majored in social science and history. While your friends with liberal arts degrees are searching for jobs months after graduation, you'll have enough money to be completely independent from parents. And in the long-term future, your job security and cumulative earnings will allow you to live more comfortably than most – good consolation for four years of sacrifice.

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