While some go to college to expand their mind and cultivate themselves, others have a far more mercenary goal in mind: They just want to make money. There's nothing wrong with either choice. However, the reason you choose to go to college will impact what major you decide to take. If you're looking to make a lot of money right out of college, these are majors you should look into. All figures are from PayScale.com.

SEE: Post-Grad Degrees That Pay The Highest

The data is clear: When you want to make a pile of money, you go into engineering. Seven of the 10 top-earning majors are engineering majors, with all of the top six being engineering majors. The best-paid engineering majors are petroleum, chemical, electrical, materials, aerospace and computer engineering. Petroleum engineers start at about $97,000 per year and are making $155,000 by mid-career. The lowest-paid engineers in the top ten are nuclear engineers, who start at a paltry $65,000 and only earn what entry-level petroleum engineers make by mid-career. Still, engineering isn't for everyone: You'd better be very good at math if you decide to make this your vocation.

In seventh place overall is physics. Physicists come out of college earning a respectable $49,800 per year, and are making a handsome $101,000 per year by mid-career. This is another place where you're going to have to be good at applied mathematics to even get through college, let alone make a career at. Still, for the person interested in working with their mind and their hands, this can be a great choice of major. It can also be a good choice for those who want to teach, though graduate study would be required to teach at the college level.

Applied Mathematics
It goes without saying that this is another major where you need to be good at math. Mathematicians work in a variety of fields, including alongside many of the engineers and physicists mentioned above. It's common for mathematicians to work for the federal government at places like the National Institute of Standards and Technology and NASA. Mathematicians start out making about $52,000 per year, but they're earning around $98,000 by mid-career.

SEE: Hot, High-Paying Career Sectors

Computer Science
This is different from computer engineering, which deals with hardware; computer science is the discipline dedicated to computer software. It's probably not too surprising that computer science majors are among the top earning majors in the United States, or that they are highly employable. As the world increasingly becomes plugged in at all times (think mobile technology and the apps boom), computer science majors might not even need employment in many cases - they might be able to get by just by freelancing or by making their own products and selling them directly to the public. Computer science majors start out earning just over $52,000 per year and are earning $98,000 per year by the time they move into mid-career.

You've probably noticed a pattern by now: Virtually all of the top paying college majors require a lot of math. Economics is no exception to this rule, but it's probably the closest thing to a humanities degree that we've seen on the list so far. You'll definitely be reading a lot of stuff that isn't math when you pursue an economics degree, but you're also going to be crunching a lot of numbers. Still, it doesn't take an economics major to figure out that making $47,000 a year once you get out of college isn't bad and earning $94,000 annually at mid-career is nothing to sneeze at, either.

Statistically speaking, people who are good at math earn more money than people who aren't. Statistics is a fascinating area of study and, like economics, resembles a humanity in some ways, specifically philosophy. In statistics you'll learn not just how to create statistical projects, but also what different types of statistics actually mean. The discipline is about a lot more than math, it's about learning what numbers say about the world we live in. Entry-level statisticians earn $49,000, with mid-career professionals making $93,000.

Picking A Major
No one is suggesting that you do something you hate for the sake of earning money. However, if you have any interest in the above areas, they're worth considering as majors. It will certainly help you pay off your student loans faster.

SEE: Top 10 Careers For Paying Back Your Student Loans

Nicholas Pell majored in English, which actually ended up turning out all right.

Related Articles
  1. Savings

    Should You Look at 529 Plans Outside Your State?

    529 savings plans are not restricted by geography. So if your in-state offering has high fees or poor investment choices, look elsewhere.
  2. Investing

    4 Billionaires Who Dropped Out of Harvard

    People who became successful despite dropping out of Harvard University.
  3. Credit & Loans

    Student Financial Aid Changes: FAFSA 2015-2016

    Here is a look at some of the major changes to FAFSA in 2015 - 2016 and how they will affect student financial aid.
  4. Credit & Loans

    What to Do When You Can't Repay Your Student Loans

    Student loans should be kept in good standing no matter what. Here are some tips on managing your loans.
  5. Credit & Loans

    Student Loan Deferment: Live to Pay Another Day

    Extending your principal repayment date can increase your chances of fighting off default.
  6. Credit & Loans

    An Introduction to Student Loans and the FAFSA

    Learn how to fill out the FAFSA form so that it is easier for you to fund your education.
  7. Professionals

    Consider A Career As A Financial Communications Professional

    Regulators, sales people and clients all look to communications professionals to help them navigate the markets.
  8. Credit & Loans

    College Loans: Private vs. Federal

    Not all student loans are the same. Know what you're getting into before signing on the dotted line.
  9. Budgeting

    The True Cost of Attending College

    In addition to tuition, there are other college expenses that could potentially add thousands of dollars a year to the cost of an education
  10. Investing

    Most Valuable Career Skills in 2016

    Evaluating the mixture of technical skills and traditional "soft skills" that render career applicants competitive in the 2016 job market.
  1. What’s the difference between the two federal student loan programs (FFEL and Direct)?

    The short answer is that one loan program still exists (Federal Direct Loans) and one was ended by the Health Care and Education ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Student loans, federal and private: what's the difference?

    The cost of a college education now rivals many home prices, making student loans a huge debt that many young people face ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can I use my IRA to pay for my college loans?

    If you are older than 59.5 and have been contributing to your IRA for more than five years, you may withdraw funds to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can I use my 401(k) to pay for my college loans?

    If you are over 59.5, or separate from your plan-sponsoring employer after age 55, you are free to use your 401(k) to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the best MBA programs for corporate finance?

    Opinions vary based on which publications you consult, but the best MBA programs for a career in corporate finance are at ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the relationship between research and development and innovation?

    Although it's possible to achieve innovation without research and development and it's possible to conduct research and development ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center