College represents major investments of both time and money, and to get the best return on both investments, it makes sense to choose a major that pays well right after graduation and keeps paying well throughout your career. Today’s top-paying careers are focused squarely on science and technology, with one degree particularly attractive for those who also enjoy social sciences Here’s a rundown of five of the top-paying degrees that can have you employed right after college:
1. Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical engineers work in universities, hospitals, government agencies, and private companies, analyzing problems in biology and medicine and developing solutions that improve the quality of patient care. Biomedical engineering graduates can expect a median starting salary of about $87,000, and the market is expected to grow by 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While most employees in this field begin working as soon as they receive their undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, those with degrees in other areas of engineering or science may also elect to enter the field after completing a master’s program.
2. Software Engineering
Also called software developers, a graduate in this field designs and develops software programs for private companies, public agencies, software publishers and many other venues. While most software developers are involved in the development of applications, some may work on operating systems design, network implementation, artificial intelligence or another subspecialty. Median pay for someone with a computer science degree specializing in software development or engineering is about $83,000, and job growth is predicted to be at about 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS.
Image via Flickr by scui3asteveo
3. Health Informatics
Health informatics combines math skills like statistics and logic with coursework in social and behavioral sciences to create one of the most in-demand fields in today’s job marketplace. The use of health informatics is widespread, and employers include hospitals and medical centers, research facilities and private practices as well as public agencies, universities and therapeutic care centers. According to the American Health Information Management Association, average salaries for HIM professionals range from roughly $70,000 for someone with a bachelor’s degree in HIM to about $87,000 for someone with a master’s, with much higher salaries in some markets. What’s more, the demand for HIM graduates is expected to increase by 22 percent by 2020 and continue to remain strong as the U.S. population gradually ages. Online HIM degree options like those offered by UIC online have soared in popularity in recent years as men and women seek new, more convenient ways to improve their skills and marketability without leaving their current jobs.
4. Civil Engineering
If Legos™ were your passion as a kid, you might want to consider a degree in civil engineering. Civil engineers design major construction projects like bridges, airports, dams and public water systems, and they may be employed by government agencies or the private sector. Many engineers work in offices, but some may travel to work sites to provide supervisory assistance. The median salary for civil engineers is just under $80,000, and the BLS says job growth in this field is expected to be about 20 percent from 2012 to 2022.
If you love math and data analysis, a degree in statistics could pay you back in no time at all. A bachelor’s degree in this field will earn an average salary of around $56,000 to start, with higher salaries for those with graduate degrees. Many statisticians work for private companies or government agencies as risk or data analysts or actuaries, and those with programming backgrounds may work as SAS (software-as-service) programmers. Over time, those who earn graduate degrees may expect to earn more than $100,000 per year. The BLS says job growth in this field is expected to be about 27 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Choosing the right degree program can go a long way toward making sure your college loans are paid back in the shortest amount of time. Today’s online education programs are generally less expensive than many campus-based programs, and they also let you complete a far broader range of degree programs, no matter where you’re located. Take some time to explore your options and consider both salary and future job prospects when deciding which degree you’ll pursue.