10 Majors with the Best ROI

Ever heard the phrase 'you get what you pay for?' While that may be true for many college degrees, the bachelor's degrees listed in this article can earn you a little bit more. And, you don't necessarily have to pay more to get it.

engineering computer science top paying college degrees

Education: An Investment

Rising higher education costs are causing students to think hard about potential college majors. More and more students are focusing not on what majors seem fun or exciting, but instead on those programs that reward grads with high salaries. PayScale.com has identified bachelor's degree programs that offer the greatest return on investment (ROI). Here are the top ten options.

1. Petroleum Engineering

Starting median pay: $101,000

Mid-career median pay: $168,000

Earning a degree in petroleum engineering can enable grads to pursue some of the most financially lucrative entry-level positions available. Long-term salary prospects in the oil industry are also excellent. Students choosing this major can expect a heavy dose of mathematics, geology and physics in their coursework.

2. Nuclear Engineering

Starting median pay: $68,200

Mid-career median pay: $121,000

Nuclear engineering has many applications that range from the everyday, such as power, to the militaristic. Individuals earning this degree can expect to encounter intensive instruction in mathematics, chemistry and physics, to name only a few foundational areas of knowledge important within the discipline.

3. Actuarial Mathematics

Starting median pay: $58,800

Mid-career median pay: $119,000

If you have a knack for mathematics, consider becoming an actuary. Actuaries analyze risk for businesses. Generally, they have fairly high job satisfaction, and that might have to do with the great paycheck! Sometimes, the major is referred to as actuarial science.

4. Chemical Engineering

Starting median pay: $69,500

Mid-career median pay: $118,000

Chemical engineering majors may pursue professional opportunities in a wide range of fields, including many high-paying positions. Some industries graduates choose to enter include pharmaceutical, chemical and medical manufacturing. Opportunities are also available in agriculture, healthcare, food processing and many other areas.

5. Electronics and Communications Engineering

Starting median pay: $65,000

Mid-career median pay: $116,000

Electronics engineers create, install, and maintain electrical communications systems. They often work for TV and satellite service companies, entertainment industries, or telecommunication service providers. In the age of smart phones, this major promises a dynamic career.

6. Computer Science (CS) & Engineering

Starting median pay: $69,100

Mid-career median pay: $115,000

Individuals interested in being on the forefront of technical innovation often choose computer engineering as a major. Grads who earn this degree typically enter professional positions in which they contribute to the development of computing, networking and multimedia equipment.

7. Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE)

Starting median pay: $67,000

Mid-career median pay: $114,000

Students in ECE programs have the opportunity to pursue coveted design, manufacturing and maintenance positions working with power systems and electrical equipment. Classes in this major address advanced concepts in electrical circuitry, electromagnetics, computer programming and related topics.

8. Systems Engineering

Starting median pay: $67,100

Mid-career median pay: $114,000

Systems engineers are vital for business because they translate consumer needs into the outputs of the company. They use research and evaluation to solve a variety of problems to ensure customer satisfaction.

9. Aeronautical Engineering

Starting median pay: $65,100

Mid-career median pay: $113,000

Students majoring in aeronautical engineering typically focus on aeronautics or aerospace. Aeronautics includes the development of aircraft and missiles while aerospace provides for the production of spacecraft such as shuttles and satellites. Both areas feature career opportunities with excellent salaries attached.

10. Computer Engineering

Starting median pay: $68,400

Mid-career median pay: $109,000

Computer engineering programs allow students to prepare for positions in the design and production of computer equipment and software. These programs require extensive study of mathematical and engineering concepts. Grads earning the degree are in high demand to fill lucrative positions in tech firms and other companies.

Learn how to master science concepts without stepping foot in the lab.

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