Top 10 Most Valuable College Majors

It can be difficult for a college graduate to start a professional career immediately after graduation, making a student’s major an important decision. However, there are majors that generally lead to career stability and larger paychecks. Many are in traditional industries that are now growing in demand and no longer require graduate degrees. Growing industries related to the following majors could increase the odds of a successful career. 


There has been a constant rate of employment for nurses in the past, but the job is now growing in demand because of the rising number of infants and elderly people. This profession sees a low unemployment rate of 4 percent, and registered nurses can earn an average of $65,000. Bachelor’s degrees in science-related fields are preferred in highly populated areas. To become a registered nurse, potential majors must meet these requirements and have extensive experience. Then they must pass an exam to become licensed.

Biomedical Engineering

This major encompasses engineering, science and medicine. There is an expected growth of 62 percent in in the field by 2020. Biomedical engineers work on medical advancements such as creating organs and other life-saving technologies. People in this profession earn over $50,000 in an entry-level position and up to $98,000 mid-career.

Information Technology

Graduates go on to use business technologies or systems analytics. Courses taken for a bachelor’s degree are mostly a combination of technology and business, and students can narrow their schedules to suit their interests. For example, students can choose to focus on web development or telecommunications. Systems analysts can expect to make an average of $80,000. Graduate school is required for higher positions that involve research.

Civil Engineering

Construction design and supervision of airports, tunnels and other architectural projects is what most civil engineers work on. The median salary is $80,000 and can be a good match for math- and science-minded individuals. Experience in the field is the most important way to advance to higher-level management positions once a graduate degree is completed. Undergraduate students in civil engineering take courses in thermodynamics, structural analysis, fluid mechanics and statics, making it a tough but worthwhile major.


Finance can be a lucrative career. Financial analysts can earn an average of $77,000, so it is a popular entry-level job. Financial advisors can earn even more, and the top 10 percent make over $187,000. Big data has made finance majors even more sought-after thanks to analytics positions. Students in this field learn how to make good investment choices through computer models and need to have strong math skills.

Software Engineering

This major can lead to a career implementing software for computers, phones or even space vehicles. Software engineers plan, develop and analyze software, which requires courses such as software architecture, testing and quality assurance. They earn an average of $88,000 mid-career, but as the demand for tech-savvy individuals grows, there will be many different positions this major can prepare one for. 


Pharmacists are one of the highest earners in the current job market. After completing a bachelor’s degree and fulfilling chemistry, drug and drug interaction courses, graduates can look forward to working in pharmaceutical laboratories, hospitals and pharmacies. As higher degrees are achieved, the average salary increases significantly. The average pharmacist can earn $105,000 based on their graduate work and experience in the field. There is an unemployment rate of 3 percent. An expected job growth of 25 percent makes it an ideal career. 

Chemical Engineering

The engineering field as a whole is currently growing, and one of the most promising fields is chemical engineering. The courses required for this major are related to biology, physics, and, of course, chemistry. The average median salary for a chemical engineer is $75,000. They oftentimes work in laboratory or pharmaceutical settings. There is an expected employment growth of 6 percent by 2020.

Computer Science

Technology is one of the fastest-growing fields, so computer scientists are highly-coveted. There is a wide range of potential careers, from software developers to artificial intelligence. This field requires long nights at a computer, but it can be worthwhile as computer scientists earn an average salary in the high five figures. Information security analysts in particular earn an average of $86,000, and this number is growing. Every industry needs computer scientists. There will be no shortage of jobs upon graduation.


Many companies are now collecting large amounts of data about consumers. Those with math and statistical skills are very valuable to employers. Actuarial mathematicians are also in high demand. They can be found in insurance and finance fields due to their understanding of probability and statistics. Businesses often look to them to help reduce costs of various risky strategies. Although some fields require further education, actuaries go into the field right after completing their bachelor’s degrees. However, there are a few exams that are required before getting into the industry. Actuaries can make an average of $94,000.

There is a growing demand for medical, math, science and computer skills. You may want to consider these majors as they can bring the most stability and success for graduating students.

About the author: Priya Sudendra is a senior at University of Colorado and a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.

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