What Colleges and Degrees Have the Best Potential for High Salaries?

For young adults, choosing which college to attend is an important decision. The major and college a student chooses has an impact on what kind of career path they will have. Some colleges are focused on engineering while others are notorious for throwing the best parties. Does the type of school a person attends influence their earnings?

Students also have to figure out what interests them most. Students also have to consider if the degree they are working towards is worth their hard work. Ultimately, most young adults go to college in order to pursue a career and improve their economic situation. Students want to go to college to eventually get a job which will increase their standard of living.

Using data provided by the Wall Street Journal and PayScale, let’s explore salary growth by looking at degree programs, college type, and region. This dataset surveys 1.2 million people over a year with only a bachelor’s degree. It measures the earnings at the beginning of their career and 10 years after they graduated.salary-degree

Choosing what to major can help determine the salary and amount of career growth that is expected. If you’re trying to decide if a specific degree is worth it, it’s important to consider not just the starting median salary but also the amount of salary growth associated with a degree. Engineering and business degrees not only have high starting median salaries, but also strong salary growth. Salary growth determines an individual’s mid-career median salaries. On the other hand, bachelor’s degrees related to health have strong starting salaries but weak salary growth from starting to mid-career. Degrees related to education have the lowest starting salary and slow salary growth. Something to consider with careers in education is the amount of time off educators have. This could account for such low annual salaries.


Different types of schools also have different median salaries. Liberal arts, party, and state schools have similar starting median salaries. However, liberal arts schools have higher median salary growth from starting to mid-career compared to party and state schools. Ivy League schools are prestigious for a reason and give students the best start and the strongest salary growth into mid-career. Ivy League and engineering schools have similar starting salaries but by mid-career, the median salary of Ivy League school graduates are on average $16,282.89 more than engineering school graduates.


Graduates from schools in California and the Northeast tend to have higher salary growth than schools in Western, Southern, and Midwestern regions. California and the Northeastern states also have higher costs of living. This could explain the higher salaries in these states.

Choosing which college to attend and what degree to pursue has an impact on the potential salary of a student. This is an important decision to make and should be considered carefully. Something important to consider is that although different degrees and school have varying salary growth, by mid-career all degrees and schools have salaries that are greater than the median salary in the US.

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