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Major Decisions: Choose Wisely

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The editors at Best Degree Programs decided to research the topic of:

Major Decisions: Choose Wisely

Students today frequently choose majors based on what they're interested in rather than what benefits them; however, your choice in education attainment, major, and occupation could affect your bank account by millions of dollars over the span of your working life.

Degrees & Dollars

Work-Life Earnings by Educational Level ($ millions)


- None to 8th grade
- --936,000
- 9th to 12th grade
- --1,099,000
- High school graduate
- --1,371,000
- Some college
- --1,632,000
- Associate's degree
- --1,813,000
- Bachelor's degree
- --2,422,000
- Master's degree
- --2,834,000
- Professional degree
- --4,159,000
- Doctorate degree
- --3,525,000

Majors & Money

Work-Life Earnings by Major - for those with Bachelor's degrees ($ millions)


- Engineering 3.5
- Computers & Math 3.1
- Science & engineering-related 2.6
- Business 2.6
- Physical Science 2.6
- Social Science 2.5
- Communications 2.3
- Biological Sciences 2.3
- Literature 2.1
- Liberal Arts 2.1
- Psychology 2.0
- Arts 2.0
- Education 1.8

Work & Wages

Work-Life Earnings by Occupation - for those with Bachelor's degrees ($ millions)


- Architecture and engineering 3.4
- Computer and math 3.2
- Management 3.2
- Business and financial 2.7
- Healthcare practitioners & technicians 2.6
- Sales and related 2.5
- Science 2.5
- Arts and media 2.3
- Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 2.0
- Production, transportation, and material moving 1.9
- Education 1.8
- Community service and legal 1.8
- Office support 1.7
- Service 1.7

Top paying jobs by major

Engineering Majors


- Rank Major/Occupation Experienced Median Pay
- 1 Petroleum Engineering / Petroleum Engineer $172,000
- 2 Mechanical Engineering (ME) / Engineering Manager $105,000
- 3 Computer Engineering (CE) / Senior Software Engineer $99,200
- 4 Nuclear Engineering / Nuclear Engineer $98,400
- 5 Electrical Engineering (EE) / Senior Electrical Engineer $95,900

The Nation's top Engineering Schools


- 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- 2 Stanford University
- 3 University of California, Berkeley,
- 4 California Institute of Technology
- 5 Carnegie Mellon University

Computer Science and Math Majors


- Rank Major/Occupation Experienced Median Pay
- 1 Mathematics / Actuary $136,000
- 2 Computer Science / Software Architect $117,000
- 3 Computer Science / Information Technology Consultant $94,500
- 4 Computer Science / Project Manager, Information Technology $93,900
- 5 Computer Science / Database Administrator $85,800

Top schools for Computer Science and Math majors


- 1 Carnegie Mellon
- 2 M.I.T.
- 3 Stanford
- 4 University of California, Berkeley
- 5 Cornell

Physical and Biological Science Majors


- Rank Major/Occupation Experienced Median Pay
- 1 Geophysics / Geophysicist $123,000
- 2 Geology / Petroleum Geologist $117,000
- 3 Biology / Clinical Research Associate (CRA) $91,700
- 4 Geology / Sr. Geologist $82,000
- 5 Chemistry / Research Scientist $77,300

Top Schools for Biological Science Studies


- 1 Harvard
- 2 M.I.T.
- 3 Stanford
- 4 University of California, Berkeley
- 5 Yale

Art and Design Majors


- Rank Major/Occupation Experienced Median Pay
- 1 Graphic Design / Creative Director $87,400
- 2 Fashion Design / Fashion Designer $74,300
- 3 Graphic Design / Marketing Manager $73,000
- 4 Graphic Design / Sr. Art Director $72,500
- 5 Interior Design / Senior Interior Designer $64,000

Top Schools for Art and Design majors


- 1 Rhode Island School of Design
- 2 Yale
- 3 Maryland Institute College of Art
- 4 Carnegie Mellon
- 5 Virginia Commonwealth University

Humanities Majors


- Rank Major/Occupation Experienced Median Pay
- 1 History / Intelligence Analyst $86,100
- 2 English / Technical Writer $67,400
- 3 Liberal Arts / Insurance Claims Adjuster $58,100
- 4 Foreign Languages / Employment Recruiter $56,100
- 5 Philosophy / Paralegal-Legal Assistant $51,600

Top Schools in the Humanities


- 1 University of California, Berkeley
- 2 Harvard
- 3 Stanford
- 4 Columbia
- 5 Princeton

Business Majors


- Rank Major/Occupation Experienced Median Pay
- 1 Accounting / Financial Controller $82,000
- 2 Construction Management / Project Manager, Construction $

Sources


- http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/acsbr11-04.pdf
- http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report-2013/popular-jobs-by-major
- http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-engineering-schools/eng-rankings
- http://www.usnews.com/education/worlds-best-universities-rankings/best-universities-biological-sciences
- http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/english-rankings
- http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-fine-arts-schools/graphic-design-rankings
- http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-schools/computer-sciencerankings
- http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/mba-rankings
- http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/slideshows/11-hot-college-majors


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