Getting a high paying job may not have been your primary motivator when you chose your major, but it will definitely be a factor when you launch your career. Almost seven out of ten people ranked compensation as the most important consideration when they looked at taking a new job, according to a study done by Glassdoor (and they know a thing or two about salaries).
Sure, money can’t buy you love, but it can make a lot of things in life much easier, so let’s rap: which jobs and careers have the highest earning potential, and how – or where – can you find them? We’ll start at the beginning, with the fact that some degrees are reported to have the highest earning potential.
What are the highest earning degrees?
If you want to run with the future high-rollers, which campus building should you stalk? Unsurprisingly, it’s the engineering building – although there are a few caveats.
When Payscale looked at which majors are most likely to pay off in terms of a high salary, they found that with the exception of actuarial sciences, careers like petroleum engineering, nuclear engineering and computer engineering will all show a pretty nice return on your investment. Of course, whether or not your school offers these specific majors is another question.
But if you (like me!) bailed on a STEM career when you cried your way through a chemistry textbook in junior year of high school, don’t worry – your major isn’t the only thing that impacts your earnings.
Career growth matters, too
When you’re a new grad, living that new-grad-salary life, it can feel like you’ll never be able to afford anything. Luckily for all of us, your entry-level salary is just that: entry level. As your career grows, and you gain experience, you’ll be able to command higher rates for your time, and make more money, no matter what you do for work.
In encouraging news, recent studies have shown that no, your liberal arts degree won’t put you at the bottom of the earning charts forever. Far from it, actually: Liberal arts grads go on to close the salary gap between them and more traditionally high-earning majors over the course of their careers, according to research from the Association of American Colleges & Universities.
By “over the course of their careers,” it’s important to remember that this might not mean you’ll be flying high and thumbing your nose at your friends who studied computer science anytime soon. The same research noted that your peak earning years will come in your 50s, and that’s fairly consistent with other findings – unless you’re a woman. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a woman’s earnings growth tops out right before she hits 40, while men tend to peak in their early 50s, salary-wise.
Screw majors, what are the highest paying jobs?
No matter what you studied, it’s possible to retrain, switch fields or transition at just about any time in your career. So, if you’re looking at your career outlook and thinking it’s time to make a financially motivated change, which jobs will help you earn more money?
Well, when US News and World Report looked at the best jobs in America overall, they offered the handy ability to sort the jobs by salary. While, yes, money isn’t everything, that list is a good place to start if that’s what you’re looking to improve.
To no one’s surprise, the list is peppered with different kinds of healthcare professionals, including several types of specialized surgeons. If spending years in medical school and residency isn’t your thing, never fear: Manager positions in marketing, sales, finance and IT all made the list as well, and so did political scientist.
We really can predict the future, after all
It was only a decade ago that “social media manager” wasn’t a real job title, and no one in a marketing department – or a newsroom – was expected to be able to source killer gifs or navigate Reddit.
With the rapid pace of change in the job world today, tomorrow’s highest-paying jobs are really anyone’s guess. Luckily, Fast Company sourced some expert guessers – technically called “futurists, ”which is a real job too – to take a stab at what the hot jobs might be in the next ten years, based on trends they’re seeing today.
Their predictions include jobs like personal branding coach, urban farmers and end-of-life planners, and the full list is worth a read if you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do when you “grow up.” You might see something in your unique combination of skills, experience and interests that lines up perfectly with one of these growing potential fields, and be able to build a plan for success in a totally new way.
So, even if you’re toiling away in an entry-level position, and your major never makes the hit list of top-earning fields of study, never fear. Every day that you work is more experience, and that’s a big factor in increasing your earnings. Plus, who knows, you might just land in the new hot field as it really takes off over the next few years.
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