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


Engineering
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.

Physics
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.

Economics
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.

Statistics
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. Personal Finance

    How To Get That Entry-Level Financial Analyst Job

    Landing a job as a financial analyst takes study, strategy and a lot of hard work. Here's how to hone your competitive edge.
  2. Personal Finance

    Does It Make Sense to Go to College in Europe?

    If you're deciding whether to get a degree abroad, first do your research and talk to alumni who have completed the same program.
  3. Savings

    6 Ways to Save Money on College Supplies

    Tuition and room and board are big expenses, yes, but the cost of textbooks and supplies can add up, too, unless you strategize.
  4. Entrepreneurship

    Elon Musk Success Story: Net Worth, Education & Top Quotes

    Read more about Elon Musk, the South African immigrant turned technology and engineering entrepreneur and inventor worth $13.6 billion.
  5. Savings

    Using Your 529 Savings to Study Abroad

    With studying abroad no longer cheap, families may find that a 529 plan college-savings account can fund educational travel. Tip: Read the fine print.
  6. Savings

    Which Gets Priority: Retirement or College Fund?

    On a tight budget? Wondering which to contribute to – your retirement or your kid's college fund? Here's expert help on how best to allocate your savings.
  7. Credit & Loans

    Why Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Might Be In Trouble

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are under increased scrutiny as debates continue about conservatorship, share price, and profit allocations.
  8. Savings

    College Tuition vs. Investing: Is It Worth It?

    With the rising cost of college and questionable career prospects awaiting college graduates, some are wondering if a college education is still worth it.
  9. Credit & Loans

    Technology Can Help With Student Loans

    Paying student loans can be a difficult time for young professionals and even in older age. But many new marketplace lending services such as SoFI, CommonBond and Earnest have leveraged the surge ...
  10. Personal Finance

    Does It Pay To Go To College?

    College or not? There are smarter or lamer ways to decide, but this cool calculation shows the basic college boost to career earnings is a big one.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Good Student Discount

    An auto insurance policy discount available to young drivers ...
  2. Whartonite

    A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University ...
  3. Society of Actuaries (SOA)

    The SOA is a professional organization for actuaries in the U.S., ...
  4. Free Application For Federal Student ...

    The form that must be completed in order to qualify for any type ...
  5. Student Debt

    Money owed on a loan taken out to pay for educational expenses. ...
  6. Student Loan Forgiveness

    Under certain circumstances, federally backed student loans – ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. 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 >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. 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 >>
  4. 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 >>
  5. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some common functions of business intelligence technologies?

    Although business intelligence technologies have some common functions, their main function is to support a company's decision-making ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!