highest-paying degrees 2021

The 4 Highest-Paying Majors in 2021

Choosing a college major can be challenging. From weighing your talents and interests against earning potential, to getting pressure from your parents to choose a specific major, there are many things to consider. While you may have some idea of what you’d like to do after college, it’s common to be concerned that you won’t make enough money if you choose one career path over another. If you’re still undecided as to what major to pursue, perhaps you should consider choosing from one of five of the highest-paying majors in 2021.

  1. Computer Science

You’d be hard-pressed to find a business or even a career field that doesn’t rely on computers today. Employers will increasingly be looking for potential hires who aren’t only computer literate, but who are also fluent in programming, data analysis, and the management of computer systems. Computer Science is the perfect major to pursue if you’re interested in working as an IT manager, programmer, or web developer.

Course Examples

Computer science programs are offered at the bachelor’s and master’s degree level. At the starting level, in a bachelor’s in Computer Science program, you’ll be expected to take courses such as:

  • Computing
  • Computer Ethics
  • Calculus
  • Discrete Structures
  • Advanced Data
  • Programming Languages

Your degree specific courses, in addition to a core humanities curriculum, will prepare you for a vibrant career working with computers and computing systems. Plus, some schools offer an accelerated degree path for this major, meaning you’d be on your way to an exciting career much faster than some of your compatriots.

Career Paths

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, you’ll be eligible for a variety of career opportunities. Some of these include:

  • Data Scientist
  • Software Tester
  • Web Developer
  • Business Analyst
  • Software Developer
  • Research and Development (R&D) Scientist

Earning Potential

According to Glassdoor, the median base salary for graduates of a Computer Science program is $70,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in computer science and information technology are projected to grow by 11% by 2029, much faster than other career fields. The BLS also notes that those with a master’s degree have the potential to earn over $126,000 annually. This makes Computer Science one of the highest-paying college majors.

  1. Computer Engineering

A close cousin of Computer Science, Computer Engineering similarly offers a lucrative career path after graduation. Graduates can enter fields such as software engineering, network security management, robotics, and chip design. If you’re interested in working with computers on an in-depth, technical level, a career in Computer Engineering would be a good fit.

Course Examples

As a student in a Computer Engineering program, you’ll be expected to take courses such as:

  • Material Science for Engineers
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Digital System Design
  • Electronics
  • Software Engineering
  • Network Analysis

These are just a small sampling of the many career-oriented courses you’ll need to take in order to graduate with a bachelor’s of science in Computer Engineering. These classes, in addition to a core curriculum of humanities courses, will prepare you for a career as a computer engineer.

Career Paths

Some potential careers you can pursue with a BS in Computer Engineering include:

  • Industrial Engineer
  • Forensic Computer Analyst
  • Web Developer
  • IT Consultant
  • Game Developer
  • Database Administrator

Earning Potential

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that computer hardware engineers can expect to earn a median pay of $119,560 per year. Web developers and digital designers earn a median pay of $77,200 per year. Computer systems analysts can earn $93,730. All three of these careers require a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. It’s clear that this degree path can prove to be high paying, as well as versatile.

  1. Finance

Between 2019 and 2029, the business sector will have grown by 5%. This is an addition of 476,200 new jobs over a ten-year span. It’s no wonder that so many students gravitate towards business for their college major. However, not all business majors are the same. A bachelor’s degree in Finance, for example, is considered one of the most high-paying college majors.

Course Examples

As a Finance major, you’ll take a variety of core humanities and liberal arts courses. Additionally, you’ll be expected to take degree-related courses such as:

  • Computer Concepts
  • Business Communications
  • Work Force Dynamics
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Business Planning

Career Paths

A Finance degree can prepare you for a variety of career paths. Here are a few examples:

  • Investment Banker
  • Financial Planner
  • Hedge Fund Manager
  • Budget Analyst
  • Product Manager
  • Wealth Manager

Earning Potential

Because there are so many different career paths to choose from, finance majors can expect a variety of potential earning outcomes. The median annual salary for financial managers, for example, is $129,890. However, in many cases (such as in the case of hedge fund managers or portfolio managers), individuals who work in finance earn a base salary as well as commission. So, in many ways, what you earn comes down to where your ambitions lie.

  1. Nursing

Nursing is not only a noble profession, but it can be a well-paid one, as well. Due to the nationwide nursing shortage, highly qualified nurses are highly sought after — and their pay reflects that.

Course Examples

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Nursing is an excellent way to set yourself apart from other registered nurses (RNs). Here are some courses that you can expect to take while pursuing your degree:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Sociology
  • Lifespan Development
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology

Career Paths

Unlike the other programs discussed previously, those who pursue a degree in nursing are likely to want a career as a nurse. In other words, there are fewer options to choose from as this is a highly specialized degree. However, within the nursing field, graduates can pursue careers in a variety of avenues and specializations, including:

  • Public Health Nurse
  • Health Educator
  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Quality Director
  • Case Manager
  • Pediatric Nurse

With a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, you will be qualified for expanded roles in nursing, as well as advancement opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, reports that nurses with a bachelor’s education can pursue administrative, research, consulting, and teaching positions.

Earning Potential

Registered nurses can make as little as $53,000 and as much as $116,000, depending on location and experience level. In Connecticut, for example, registered nurses make between $60,000 and $114,000 annually. While this is a large spread, one thing is clear. Those who earn a bachelor’s degree in Nursing are more sought after by employers and are likely to be paid more than their colleagues over the course of their career. Cited as one of the top benefits of a BSN, nurses with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn 20 percent more than nurses with an associate degree, on average.

While earning potential is not the only aspect to weigh when choosing a college major , it is certainly a consideration. Afterall, your education is an investment of your time as well as your money. If you choose one of these high-paying majors, you may find that the investment will majorly pay off.

Not sure what major you want to pursue? Reach out to our career advising team to get started in finding a major that aligns with your personal preferences and professional goals.