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USA: Highest & Lowest Paying Degrees 2010

August 11, 2010

Highest Paying College Degrees in 2010

According to Lynn and the salary information company PayScale,Inc., the ten college majors that have the highest earning potential in 2010 are:

  • Petroleum engineering
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Applied mathematics
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Physics
  • Computer engineering
  • Economics

Lowest Paying College Degrees in 2010

Again, according to Lynn and Payscale, the ten college majors with the worst earning potential in 2010 are:

  • Child and family studies
  • Elementary education
  • Social work
  • Athletic training
  • Culinary arts
  • Horticulture
  • Paralegal studies/law
  • Theology
  • Recreation & leisure
  • Special education

Earning Potential

Based on these lists and other information I read online, it appears that people with engineering degrees have the potential to earn quite a bit of money, while people who work with children or the arts are going to make considerably less.

I think that the financial website WalletPop put it best: “Your education is an investment. So, like any investment, you should do your research if you want to cash in.”

Enjoy Your Job or Enjoy the Money?

All too often, people decide on college majors based on the amount of money they assume they will make after graduation. (I wish I had made that “mistake.”) While it’s true that certain careers do pay considerably better than others, a Bachelor’s degree does not guarantee a job. Some employers would prefer you to have a Master’s degree, and it may take several years to work your way up from an entry-level job with an entry-level salary.

If possible, decide on a career that you will enjoy and is one that pays enough to live comfortably. Most people are not millionaires, but most people do not go to college in order to earn $30,000 per year. I think that deep down my parents are disappointed in the fact that I do not work in music education, but I wish they had urged me to consider my options before deciding on such a low-paying college major.

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