Top Paying Jobs For Undergrads

By Michael Deane | August 29, 2010 AAA

While you're toiling away, spending those three to four years at an institution of higher learning, you want to believe that your undergrad degree will lead to a well-paying job someday. As more and more people realize the importance of an education, many employers are now looking for applicants with graduate degrees in order to even qualify for an interview. Thankfully, there are still a few jobs that pay well and only require an undergrad degree. We took a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Highest Paying Jobs, and found the ones in which you only have to go college once.

IN PICTURES: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs
Natural Sciences Manager
This job involves managing a highly-trained staff, and communicating the technical data from their work to higher-ups and sometimes stockholders. These managers need at least an undergrad in the science area that they manage, and usually some experience in their field so that they are able to effectively manage and communicate. This job pays a median salary of $127,000, and is expected to grow at 15% over the next 10 years.

Engineering Manager
This job is similar to natural science manager, as the managers need at least an undergrad to get started. This position requires experience as an engineer and usually some as a manager, in order to translate the highly technical information into everyday language. Most engineering managers have at least an undergrad in some specialty of engineering. The good news for this position is that it pays $122,810 and is expected to grow 6% in the next 10 years. The bad news for this position is that firms sometimes look for a graduate degree or a combination of undergrad degrees.

Computer and Information Systems Manager
For this job, prospective employees need to have an undergrad in a computer-related field, and some experience in that field, as well. Sometimes, employers will also want an MBA to show that employees are business-savvy and know what they're doing as managers, not just as computer scientists. This degree can be a Bachelor of Arts, Science or Mathematics, with a focus in computers, and the position has a mean annual salary of $120,640. Positions in this field are supposed to grow by 17% by 2018. If you are still planning on getting that philosophy degree, it's going to be a bit harder to get a high-paying job.

Marketing Manager
Are you seeing a pattern yet? Managerial positions offer the best wage when you have an undergrad degree. Marketing managers need to have a B.Com degree with a focus in marketing and significant experience as a marketer before becoming a manager. They work to develop marketing strategies, and even price setting for a company. Marketing managers make a mean annual salary of $120,070 and prospects for growth are 12% by 2018.

Petroleum Engineer
A bachelor of engineering is required for this job, but a master's degree won't do you any harm. Alternatively, sometimes a mathematics degree can qualify you for an engineering job. This job involves exactly what you think: evaluating and creating ways to get that black gold from the ground and into upgrading plants and refineries, but in a much more technical way. The mean annual salary for these engineers is $119,960, and the job is expected to grow by 18% over the next decade.

Political Scientist
If you were in an arts program, how many people did you meet taking a political science degree and think that it would do them as much good as taking a degree in performing arts? Well, look who's laughing now. A bachelor's degree in political science (a Bachelor of Arts degree) will get you into the field, and experience and proven performance will get you to a high-paying, high-profile gig. The mean salary for this position is $101,050, and the position is expected to grow by 19% over the next 10 years.

The Bottom Line
There are still jobs out there that only require you to go to college for four years, and with the right experience, many of them pay six-figure salaries. Going back to school will always improve your chances in getting a more senior position, but it's not always necessary. So, that undergrad you're pursuing doesn't have to be the first step in a series of degrees; it can be the last schooling that you ever have to do. (There are many ways to fund a child's education including loans, scholarships, grants and protecting your investments. To learn more, see Paying For College In An Economic Downturn.)

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: The Ups And Downs Of A Double-Dip Recession.

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