You’ve finally chosen your college and feel like you’re done with big decisions – think again. 

There’s another decision that’s possibly more important than where you go to school – it’s what you go to school for – or your college major.

If you choose one of the high paying college majors, you’ll more than make up for the cost to go to college. Not everyone will resonate with the best paid college majors, but knowing which studies pay the most may point you in the right direction or show you where the money is at, helping you choose your college path.

High Paying College Majors – The Top Ten

There are hundreds of high paying college majors, but these top ten majors are the hottest (and best paying) majors right now.

Petroleum Engineering

College students interested in engineering may want to consider petroleum engineering. Dealing with the production of oil and natural gas, petroleum engineers work at well sites and offices and have a specific focus.

  • Average early income – $92,300/year
  • Average mid-career income – $182,000/year


College graduates with an economics major can work as an economist, financial analyst, market research analyst, or financial advisor. Economics majors focus on wealth, resource allocation, supply and demand, and consumer behavior.

  • Average early income – $60,900
  • Average mid-career income – $139,600

Operations Research

Operations research majors learn how to problem solve large-scale problems involving people and operations. Operations research majors use complex mathematical equations and computer programs to solve problems in manufacturing, finance, insurance, and scientific industries.

  • Average early income – $78,400
  • Average mid-career income – $139,600

Public Accounting

Accounting majors have always been popular due to the high paying nature of its job. Public accountants are an important part of any organization as they are who tells a company if they’re spending their money appropriately. Graduates with a public accounting degree may work in accounting, auditing, tax services, or consulting services.

  • Average early income – $60,000
  • Average mid-career income – $138,000

Chemical Engineering

Engineering makes the list again, but this time with a scientific twist. Chemical engineers are a cross between an engineer and a scientist, with a focus on biology, chemistry, and physics as well as the mathematical side to design and problem solve.

  • Average early income – $74,500
  • Average mid-career income – $137,800


College students interested in working in aviation could focus on an aeronautics degree. Whether you want to be a pilot, work in air traffic management, or the business side of aeronautics, a degree in aeronautics will get your foot in the door with some of the largest companies.

  • Average early income – $74,000
  • Average mid-career income – $133,100

Quantitative Business Analysis

College students with a flair for math and an analytical mind may want to consider a quantitative business analysis degree as it’s one of the high paying college majors. QBA majors focus on data analysis, math, and quantitative modeling and graduates often work in investment banking, consulting, and supply chain management, as a few examples.

  • Average early income – $67,900
  • Average mid-career income – $136,200

Information and Computer Science

College students with an interest in technology often do well with an information and computer science major. This major works with computer hardware and software. It’s a mathematically focused major with IT disciplines that allow IT specialists have many job opportunities including software tester, systems analyst, and web developer among others.

  • Average early income – $70,300
  • Average mid-career income – $127,600


College students who love working with numbers and want to play an integral role in the business world can major in finance. Finance majors can work as a financial analyst, financial consultant, operations manager, and budget analyst among hundreds of other jobs.

  • Average early income – $61,200
  • Average mid-career income – $123,500

Human Resources

Human Resources specialists enjoy working with people in the workplace. Human Resource majors can work in specific areas, such as recruitment or workforce development. They can also take a broader approach and focus on workplace benefits, training, and compensation.

  • Average early income – $57,000
  • Average mid-career income – $97,000

How to Choose your Major

Focusing on high paying college majors is important to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ but make sure you focus on what you like too. Money isn’t everything, while it’s necessary, studying for one of the best paying college majors and not liking your job can lead to many other problems in the future.

So how do you choose your major? Here are some quick tips to get you started:

  • List the subjects you love most in school
  • List your strengths and weakness on those subjects
  • Determine how long you want to go to school (2 years, 4 years, or more)
  • Talk to a school counselor to discuss what you’ve discovered

When must you Pick a Major?

Many college-bound students assume they must have a major chosen before they walk through the door of their first class.

You don’t.

Most colleges suggest students wait until their sophomore year to pick a focus. This gives you time to do the required classes and time to try a variety of other classes to decide where you want to focus. 

Take your Time Choosing your Major

Finding the high paying college majors may be your focus, but first, figure out what you like. Once you know what area you want to focus on, you can work with your counselor to major in the area with the best outlook. No one can predict the future, but the college majors listed above are the highest paying majors today and have the best outlook for future college graduates. 

Source: Payscale