Bachelor’s Degrees Leading to Highest Salaries

These jobs pay handsomely early in your career — and big bucks later.



A bachelor’s degree today is basically like a high school diploma 20 years ago. Everybody’s got one and the only way to get a decent salary is to go to grad school — and get yourself even further in student loan debt.


Wrong — especially if you’re in certain industries.

Payscale examined the highest-paying bachelors degrees by salary potential — and found that plenty have nice entry-level pay and lead to six-figure salaries by the time you reach mid-career. (It’s all part of Payscale’s 2015-2016 College Salary Report, which also ranked colleges based on salary potential. Here’s how Philly colleges ranked on potential salary.)

Some interesting findings in the bachelor’s degree study:

  • 25 out of the top 26 jobs are in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)
  • The outlier was “government” which could certainly have a STEM connection but doesn’t necessarily have to.
  • When ranking the top 26 by percentage of alumni who feel their work is making the world a better place, engineering dominated — with mining engineering coming out on top, followed by petroleum engineering, chemical engineering and aeronautical engineering.
Rank Major Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay  % High Meaning 
1Petroleum Engineering$101,000$168,00071%
2Nuclear Engineering$68,200$121,00058%
3Actuarial Mathematics$58,800$119,00048%
4Chemical Engineering$69,500$118,00061%
5Electronics & Communications Engineering$65,000$116,00055%
6Computer Science (CS) & Engineering$69,100$115,00043%
7 (tie)Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE)$67,000$114,00053%
7 (tie)Systems Engineering$67,100$114,00060%
9Aeronautical Engineering$65,100$113,00061%
10 (tie)Computer Engineering (CE)$68,400$109,00048%
10 (tie)Mining Engineering$71,500$109,00079%
12 (tie)Electrical Engineering (EE)$66,500$108,00055%
12 (tie)Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering$61,100$108,00058%
14 (tie)Aerospace Engineering$64,800$107,00057%
14 (tie)Computer Science (CS) & Mathematics$62,900$107,00036%
16 (tie)Industrial Distribution$58,100$106,00048%
16 (tie)Physics$55,500$106,00048%
18 (tie)Computer Science (CS)$63,100$105,00041%
18 (tie)Materials Science & Engineering$64,600$105,00046%
20 (tie)Applied Mathematics$55,800$102,00040%
20 (tie)Cognitive Science$51,400$102,00038%
20 (tie)Government$46,900$102,00047%
20 (tie)Mechanical Engineering (ME)$62,500$102,00052%
24 (tie)Finance & Economics$55,700$101,00043%
24 (tie)Physics & Mathematics$50,900$101,00043%