10 College Majors With the Best Starting Salaries

Darian Somers , Josh Moody

Get the most out of a college degree.

Going to college provides an opportunity to not only earn a degree, but also boost your earning potential in the real world. The median usual weekly earnings for a worker in the U.S. with a bachelor's degree is $1,198, compared with $730 for one who has only earned a high school diploma, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has found that a worker with a bachelor's degree may earn 84% more over the course of his or her lifetime compared with someone who has a high school diploma. Some degrees pay off more than others. According to PayScale data, these are the 10 majors with the highest median starting salaries for alumni with three years of postgrad experience whose highest degree is a bachelor's, along with the schools where graduates earn the most in those fields.

10. Mechanical Engineering

Median starting salary: $67,385

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: United States Naval Academy (MD)

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 17 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

9. Industrial Engineering

Median starting salary: $67,547

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: Stanford University (CA)

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 6 (tie), National Universities

8. Materials Engineering

Median starting salary: $69,587

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: Stanford University

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 6 (tie), National Universities

7. Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering

Median starting salary: $70,780

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: United States Naval Academy

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 17 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

6. Systems Engineering

Median starting salary: $71,510

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: United States Military Academy (NY)

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 21 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

5. Electrical Engineering

Median starting salary: $71,659

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: Rice University (TX)

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 17 (tie), National Universities

4. Nuclear Engineering

Median starting salary: $73,175

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY)

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 50 (tie), National Universities

3. Chemical Engineering

Median starting salary: $73,627

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 3 (tie), National Universities

2. Computer Engineering

Median starting salary: $74,026

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: University of Pennsylvania

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 6 (tie), National Universities

1. Petroleum Engineering

Median starting salary: $96,544

College with highest median alumni starting salary for this major: University of Texas--Austin

U.S. News Best Colleges rank: 48 (tie), National Universities

Find the right school for your major.

Get information about how to choose a college, and find out more about majors with great job prospects. For additional advice and information on how to select a college, connect with U.S. News Education on Twitter and Facebook.

Highest-paying college majors

-- Petroleum engineering

-- Computer engineering

-- Chemical engineering

-- Nuclear engineering

-- Electrical engineering

-- Systems engineering

-- Aerospace & aeronautical engineering

-- Materials engineering

-- Industrial engineering

-- Mechanical engineering


Darian Somers is an associate social media editor at U.S. News. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at dsomers@usnews.com.