Smart Choices For
The College Bound
So, you're off to college! Of course, now you have some questions to answer. If you're not sure what degree plan to choose, we've rounded up the 10 most financially lucrative choices to help you decide.
Everyone says you'll be happier if you do what you love. While that's true, choosing a major still isn't that simple. Whether you love science, math or English, there are still a multitude of majors that encompass those strengths to varying degrees. The experts at Georgetown University, Payscale.com and Workforce recommend these 10 lucrative fields.
Median graduate salary: $43,000
Median overall salary: $51,000
If working in health care sounds appealing, consider that the U.S. Department of Labor expects medical assisting to be one of the fastest-growing fields through 2018.
The duties may vary depending on the medical setting, but in general, medical assistants handle administrative and patient-communication tasks, like updating and filing patient information, billing and bookkeeping, answering phones, communicating a doctor's orders (like diet information) to patients, and overseeing hospital admission and lab services. In some settings, they may even be asked to do physician-supervised incisions, take blood work or urine samples and perform other minor medical procedures.
Information systems management
Median graduate salary: $51,000
Median overall salary: $71,000
If you're into computers, you should skip a networking degree and look into systems management. While computer-networking majors can expect to make less than $40,000 a year, those who major in information systems management can expect more.
Sure, you're going to spend a lot of time troubleshooting email and explaining why you shouldn't download an attachment from someone named SexyDarla2043, but you'll also help large companies maintain massive networks.
Median graduate salary: $50,200
Median overall salary: $65,000
OK, so it doesn't sound as romantic as working in a high-powered legal office for the likes of Harvey Specter, but it can be very lucrative, even in a down economy.
Construction services majors work for contractors doing things like scheduling projects, keeping tabs on legal compliance and even overseeing projects. While construction is typically seen as a male-dominated field, that's not necessarily a bad thing if you don't mind playing with the boys.
Median graduate salary: $45,100
Median overall salary: $58,000
If the medical assisting major sounded good, but you were hoping for something with a more science-y slant, look into medical technology. Medical technologists must have a strong background in chemistry and biology and could work in hospitals, diagnostic labs or even doctors' offices running tests and analyzing the results.
Median graduate salary: $57,000
Median overall salary: $86,000
A major in electrical engineering may strike fear into the hearts of some of our readers, but if you can't get enough high-level mathematics and as a child spent more time taking apart and putting back together toys than playing with them, this in-demand field may be for you.
Electrical engineers can work for manufacturers designing and testing components from small toys to vehicles and more, work in engineering firms or even keep the city lights on while working at power plants.
Median graduate salary: $64,500
Median overall salary: $86,000
If circuitry isn't your area, but you're still a science buff, chemical engineering is for you. And since chemical engineers make more money right out of school (and often for years to come), you'll pay off your student loans a lot more quickly than people in other fields.
You'll study biology and physics in addition to chemistry, and when you graduate, you can work for pharmaceutical companies, food companies or industrial companies.
Median graduate salary: $60,400
Median overall salary: $62,000
The third medical major to top our list, treatment therapy allows you to work treating patients without a doctorate. The field includes radiation, recreational and respiratory therapy. Graduates can expect to work in hospitals and nursing homes, and the actual salary depends on which field of study you choose.
Median graduate salary: $53,100
Median overall salary: $68,000
This one's actually much more exciting than it sounds. You'll study things like aeronautics and aviation and often work for airplane manufacturers, though you'll also have opportunities in the automotive and other transportation fields.
Median graduate salary: $48,000
Median overall salary: $60,000
It's no surprise another medical major made this list. But our aging population means new grads will be more in-demand than ever. You'll study everything from biology to bedside manner and have opportunities in just about any clinical setting you can imagine when you graduate. You can increase your salary by opting for the bachelor's in nursing instead of just an RN certification, and you can often work as a nurse while finishing your four-year degree.
Pharmacy & pharmacology
Median graduate salary: $51,200
Median overall salary: $105,000
If dealing with bodily fluids isn't your thang, there's still a medical option — one that's even more lucrative than the rest. A pharmacist can work for small or large pharmacies or labs and research facilities. A graduate degree will increase your lifetime earning potential.
More tips for the college bound
Does your college student need renters insurance?
Top tech for college-bound kids
Headed back to school... again