College is getting more expensive and students are borrowing a lot of money. Many students and their families are thinking about whether going to college is worth it.
But what really matters when it comes to how much money you can make in the future is what you study in college and the type of degree you get.
A recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau found that students who choose majors like computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or economics, which are mostly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), tend to make the most money in the long run.
Highest Paying College Majors in the U.S.
1. Electrical engineering $121,600
2. Computer science $108,500
3. Mechanical engineering $106,200
4. Economics $101,400
5. Engineering $100,600
6. Finance $99,900
7. Civil engineering $99,660
8. Chemistry $94,680
9. Mathematics $86,560
10. Political Science $86,380
The report discovered that people working in those areas make $100,000 or more every year.
On the other hand, individuals with degrees in fields like education, elementary education, fine arts, family and consumer sciences, and social work earned less than $60,000 annually.
Lowest Paying College Majors in the U.S.
1. Family + consumer sciences $52,850
2. Fine arts $53,450
3. Elementary education $54,900
4. Social work $55,060
5. General education $58,000
6. Other education degrees $58,120
7. Commercial art + Graphic Design $59,770
8. Liberal arts $61,380
9. Physical fitness, parks, recreation + leisure $61,580
10. Other degrees $62,100
Men Earn More Than Women in High-Paying Jobs
The difference in wages between men and women continues in high-paying jobs.
In every situation, men make more money than women, as reported by the Census Bureau. For instance, women with computer science degrees earned $91,990, while men earned $115,500. Among those with economics degrees, women earned $84,750, while men earned $107,300.
Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez, who hosts the “Money Confidential” podcast, said, “This unfairness in careers starts right when women begin working and stays that way at every stage.”
Consider the Return on Your Academic Investment
Think about the benefit of your education investment.
In general, research indicates that having a college degree is usually financially rewarding. The “College Payoff” report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce states that people with bachelor’s degrees tend to earn 75% more than those who only have a high school diploma.
Before you decide to borrow money for college, it’s crucial to think about what you’re studying, according to Robert Franek, who is the editor in chief of The Princeton Review.
He suggests that, as a general guideline, students should avoid taking no more loan than what they anticipate earning in their first year after they graduate.
At the very least, this approach encourages a discussion about what the actual benefit of their academic investment will be.
College costs are rising, leading many to question its value. What you study matters most for future earnings. STEM fields, like computer science and engineering, offer high-paying careers. Conversely, fields like education and fine arts often lead to lower incomes. Gender wage gaps persist, with men consistently earning more. Before taking on student loans, consider potential earnings and choose wisely.