If earning top dollar after graduation is your bottom line, there’s no doubt that those majoring in one field in particular will see those dollar signs ring in: Technology. According to a recent study by the National Association of College Employers, grads with degrees geared toward technology are in higher demand than ever. The need for innovators is strong, and employers are willing to pay top dollar. Check out our list of the best college majors that produce the highest paying jobs to get an idea of the market value for these majors. Even if your major doesn’t make the cut, there’s no need to despair. While the job market may not be quite as clearly defined, there are ways to market yourself into a desirable position.
Most sought after tech degrees and their starting salaries
Wondering what an entry-level engineering degree will pay? If you think those salaries are worth salivating over, salaries in the Silicon Valley market, the mother of all technology hubs, are even higher. Here are a sampling of degrees and their starting salaries, according to Megan Casserly’s January 25, 2013 Forbes post, “The 10 best-paying college majors – and why business isn’t one of them.”
- Computer engineering: $70,400
- Chemical engineering: $66,400
- Computer science: $64,400
- Software engineer at Google: $113,000
What accounts for these increasingly high salaries is both the high demand in the market and the relatively low number of graduates in these fields, according to Casserly. “Employment, like anything is a supply-and-demand marketplace,” Casserly wrote. “A general rule is this: the higher the number of new grads with a given degree, the lower the starting salary.”
Other majors in high demand
Of course majors in the technology field aren’t the only ones employers are vying for. Other majors have shown high rates of return on your college investment and are considered safe bets for financial security. The following is a list provided in “8 college degrees that will earn your money back,” an August 2, 2012 post to Salary.com by Dawn Dugan. The return on investment (ROI) for the degree earner is based on attending a public college; all salary numbers are for a median salary in that field.
- Math/Operations Research Analysis Manager: $146,456 (ROI: 230%)
- Human Resources/Compensation & Benefits Manager: $94,978 (ROI: 149%)
- Economics/Corporate Economist: $115,671 (ROI: 182%)
- Biology/Laboratory Manager: $85,292 (ROI: 134%)
Ways to market a not so desirable major
Ok, let’s face it. Liberal arts majors are the punch line of many jokes when it comes to finding a job these days. In reality, jobs for liberal arts majors are more plentiful and more lucrative than one might think. The path to these jobs, however, is rarely a straight one, so liberal arts majors have to be more strategic and use their finely honed wits to get where they want to go.
How do you do this? For starters, play into your strengths. Some other tips for sharpening your job search skills:
- Show off your writing skills – writing skills are highly valued, sorely needed and not so easy to find in other fields
- Take courses outside your major – taking classes that supplement your major, such as business or marketing, can help you be more well-rounded in your job search
- Demonstrate leadership and team-building experience – showing how well you’ve performed on research projects, led discussions and participated in group assignments can be a great way to show how well you play with others
In “4 tips for making the most of liberal arts degrees,” an October 28, 2011 post to US News & World Report by Laura McMullen, Kathleen Powell, Director of Career Exploration and Development at Denison University, emphasized that liberal arts majors have a broader perspective to bring to the table, and that is attractive to employers. “Because of the breadth and depth of their education, they bring a critical perspective to solutions,” Powell said. “[I see] political science majors being offered positions in consulting firms; English majors landing positions with market research firms; history majors going with investment banks.”
So don’t worry: regardless of your major, there is hope for life after graduation!
Need a little more help selecting the perfect major for you? Check out 35 Ways to Discover a Major by Kathleen Hartman. This workbook guides undecided students as they search for majors — and, ultimately, careers — that match their goals, interests, strengths, and learning styles. Enter promo code RECP40 at checkout for a special 40% off!
What is your area of study and what career do you hope to pursue with it?
Let us know in the comments below!