Careers

50 Highest-Paying Bachelor's Degrees

Hero Image - 50 Highest-Paying Bachelor's Degrees

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Search Colleges
TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

While most bachelor's degrees increase your earning potential, some degrees provide a bigger return on investment than others.

The 50 careers listed below show how to earn the most with your degree. Many students prioritize four-year degrees that pay well. The type of degree you pursue significantly impacts how much you can expect to earn after graduation, as jobs that require a bachelor's degree vary considerably in salary.

Use this page to choose the highest-paying bachelor's degrees. This guide uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The Highest-Paying Careers With a Bachelor's Degree

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers oversee computer and information technology activities in businesses and organizations. Tasked with analyzing, planning, and implementing computer systems and policies, these professionals coordinate with other information technology professionals, such as computer systems analysts, computer support specialists, and software developers, to ensure efficiency and safety.

They install and upgrade computer hardware and software, research new products, and assess costs related to technological performance and service. They may focus on a particular aspect of the field, serving as information technology directors, chief information officers, or information security managers. Computer and information systems managers need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $146,360
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 11%
  • Industry: Management

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers develop and coordinate activities related to production, operation, and testing at manufacturing and construction sites. They research and develop plans for products and designs, determining resource needs, budgets, and timelines for projects and programs. They supervise employees, work with outside vendors, and coordinate with fellow managers to facilitate effective outcomes. As administrators, they also hire and train workers, determine equipment needs, and implement policies and procedures.

Architectural and engineering managers need strong time management, decision-making, and organizational skills. They may split their time among laboratory, office, and production settings. Architectural and engineering managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree and professional experience as an architect or an engineer.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $144,830
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 3%
  • Industry: Management/engineering

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers extract gas and oil from deposits under the surface of the Earth, often developing new techniques to detect and recover energy resources. They work at onshore and offshore facilities, overseeing equipment, personnel, and operations during extraction processes. They use techniques such as water and steam injection to force oil and gas out of reservoirs. They also consult with fellow scientists to determine geologic formation and stability.

Concerned with cost efficiency, environmental protection, and overall safety, petroleum engineers need training in mathematics, natural science, and engineering. A bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering prepares graduates to work as petroleum engineers. A bachelor's degree in mechanical, civil, or chemical engineering and experience in the field can also lead to petroleum engineering positions.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $137,720
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 3%
  • Industry: Engineering

Advertising and Promotions Managers

Advertising and promotions managers oversee campaigns and projects to build consumer interest in goods and services. As team leaders, they work with staff to generate ideas, create artwork and designs, and engage with the media as they market a product. Advertising managers may focus on specific types of media, such as social media or television, while promotions managers develop direct mailings, coupons, discounts, and comparable incentive programs.

Negotiation, critical thinking, and decision-making skills prepare advertising and promotions managers to research, plan, and implement campaigns and promotions that meet client and market needs. They typically need a bachelor's degree in public relations, marketing, advertising, or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $135,900
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
  • Industry: Management

Marketing Managers

Marketing managers identify appropriate markets for goods and services based on supply and demand data. They determine pricing to meet the needs of producers and consumers, often working with public relations, sales, and product development staff to determine the most effective marketing techniques.

Marketing managers also observe trends and changes in the marketplace, determining new products and services to meet consumer demand. They often lead teams of data analysts, strategists, and communications professionals. Marketing managers typically need a bachelor's degree in business, marketing, or management, with extensive training in finance, statistics, and economics.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $135,900
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
  • Industry: Management

Financial Managers

Financial managers help promote the financial success of a business or organization. They analyze financial data, prepare reports, and invest funds based on short- and long-term goals. Financial managers work across industries. In government settings, they assess appropriations and budgets. Healthcare financial managers process billing, reimbursement, and related activities.

Financial managers may also serve as controllers, summarizing and forecasting financial health for an organization. Financial managers usually need a bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting, or economics. They also typically need experience as a financial analyst or an accountant.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $135,900
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 16%
  • Industry: Management

Natural Sciences Managers

Natural science managers work across industrial and manufacturing sectors. They work with chemists, biologists, and physicists in laboratory and production settings. As supervisors and intermediaries, natural science managers determine equipment, personnel, and training needs while setting policy and procedure guidelines for efficient research and production.

Natural science managers also carry out research, often developing new products or materials. Many natural science managers have experience working as a scientist, a role that requires a bachelor's degree. Due to the administrative duties that come with a managerial role, natural scientists managers also benefit from business training.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $129,100
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
  • Industry: Management

Sales Managers

The specific duties and responsibilities for sales managers vary by industry and organization. Generally, sales managers supervise sales associates in retail and wholesale settings, establishing training programs, quotas, and service guidelines. They interact with dealers and distributors, keep track of inventory, and assess customer demands. They often travel to various locations owned by their company.

Sales managers also analyze consumer data to acquire new customers, assess sales performance, and forecast sales trends. Sales managers need strong communication skills to appropriately handle feedback and complaints from customers and business partners. Many sales managers have experience as sales representatives and a bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting, or a related discipline.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $126,640
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%
  • Industry: Management

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Compensation and benefits managers administer payments and benefits to employees within a business or organization. They establish payment procedures and policies in accordance with federal and state regulations while working within the parameters of an organizational budget. They also implement and monitor benefits programs and plans, such as retirement plans, wellness programs, and insurance policies.

Compensation and business managers work closely with human resource and finance professionals to determine the most cost-effective and efficient plans for an organization. They need strong analytical, communication, and decision-making skills. Compensation and benefits managers often need a bachelor's degree in business, human resources, or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $122,270
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 3%
  • Industry: Management

Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

In charge of transporting people and goods around the world, airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers need extensive technical training. They prepare airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft for flight in addition to submitting flight plans, monitoring the weather, and communicating with air traffic controllers.

Pilots hold the most responsibility, with copilots serving as second in command. Many modern planes equipped with automated systems do not require a flight engineer. During flights, airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers monitor instruments and operate controls, respond to changing conditions, and keep track of fuel consumption. These professionals need a bachelor's degree and training to receive a pilot's license.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $121,430
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
  • Industry: Engineering

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers mitigate problems within computer hardware systems. They design and perform diagnostic tests, often developing new tools and techniques to improve hardware performance. Computer hardware engineers also research and test computer components such as processors, networks, and memory devices.

Computer hardware engineers need a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering, information technology, or a related field. They need strong analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills. They must also be comfortable working independently and as part of a team.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $117,220
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
  • Industry: Engineering

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers oversee recruiting, interviewing, and hiring within a business or organization. They work with fellow managers to determine overall personnel needs and serve as intermediaries between executives and employees. They often coordinate compensation and benefits programs, handle disciplinary matters, and mediate staffing issues as they arise.

Human resources managers may also develop training programs or provide instruction on internal policies and procedures to newly hired staff. As professionals who ensure adherence to laws and regulations for hiring and termination, human resources managers also keep detailed records for all related duties. They need strong interpersonal skills and a bachelor's degree in business administration, labor relations, human resources, or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $116,720
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 7%
  • Industry: Management

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles for commercial and military use. They often specialize in aeronautical or astronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft, while astronautical engineers develop crafts for use within and outside of the Earth's atmosphere.

Aerospace engineers must adhere to industry, safety, and regulatory guidelines as they plan and create prototypes. They may possess expertise in a subset of the discipline, such as aerodynamics, flight mechanics, propulsion, or materials. Aerospace engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or a related field. They also need strong mathematical, problem-solving, and analytical skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $116,500
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 2%
  • Industry: Engineering

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers create a business or organization's image and identity by crafting communications, releasing information to the media, and developing advertising and promotional campaigns. They work with executives, managers, and employees to identify and reach audiences, often serving as a spokesperson and/or point person in the process.

Fundraising managers develop strategies to bring revenue to an organization. They identify donors, plan events, apply for grants, and supervise annual or capital campaign activities. Both public relations and fundraising managers need strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. They also typically need relevant experience and a bachelor's degree in communications, management, or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $116,180
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
  • Industry: Management

Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers develop tools and techniques to use nuclear energy and radiation. They also oversee operations at nuclear plants and disposal facilities, ensuring safety and accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Their work leads to innovations in medical diagnostics, energy production, and travel.

Nuclear engineers may work for the federal government, science research and development firms, or manufacturing corporations. Nuclear engineers need strong analytical, mathematical, and problem-solving skills. Most positions require at least a bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $113,460
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): -1%
  • Industry: Engineering

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers supervise instructional activities within an organization. They coordinate with fellow managers and executives to determine organizational goals, select or create training materials, oversee training and development staff, implement programs, and collaborate with experts and colleagues to identify the best training methods and media.

Training and development managers typically need a bachelor's degree in education, instructional design, human resources, or a related field. They also need strong communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $113,350
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
  • Industry: Management

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects develop small- and large-scale data communication networks, including local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets. They install and upgrade computer hardware and software, monitor information security, and assess future network needs. They also work with information technology colleagues, supervise computer network and computer systems staff, and manage network disruptions and problems as they arise.

Computer network architects typically need a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, computer engineering, or a related field. They must work well independently and as part of a team and possess strong analytical and organizational skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $112,690
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%
  • Industry: Computer and information technology

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers research how to produce and use chemicals in foods, drugs, manufactured goods, and other products. They work to improve chemical manufacturing processes, test and monitor chemical reactions, and implement safety protocols. Chemical engineers may specialize in a process, such as oxidation or polymerization, or in a specific field, like nanomaterials or biological engineering.

Chemical engineers work in offices and laboratories, but they also spend time in industrial plants and worksites. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering or a related field and expertise in chemistry, biology, and mathematics.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $108,770
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
  • Industry: Engineering

Actuaries

Actuaries apply statistics, financial theory, and mathematics to measure and assess risk and uncertainty. Essential for financial and insurance industries, actuaries administer policies and implement plans to make cost-effective decisions. They participate in pension and retirement benefit assessments and help facilitate strategic business decisions.

Actuaries must be analytical and detail-oriented. They typically need a bachelor's degree in mathematics, actuarial science, or statistics. Coursework in finance, business, and economics prepare actuaries for certifications offered through professional organizations like the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $108,350
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 20%
  • Industry: Math

Industrial Production Managers

Industrial production managers plan and direct daily operations at manufacturing facilities and plants. They develop efficient processes, allocate resources, and oversee budgets. Industrial production managers also develop timelines and streamline processes, keeping track of workers, equipment, and inventory.

Additionally, they ensure quality and safety in manufacturing facilities, communicate with fellow managers, and fix production problems. Skilled organizers, supervisors, and problem-solvers, industrial production managers typically need a bachelor's degree in business, industrial engineering, or management.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $105,480
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 1%
  • Industry: Management

Chief Executives

Chief executives oversee and develop strategies and policies for organizations and businesses. They work with managers to define organizational goals, coordinate operations, and make comprehensive decisions. Chief executives in government settings include mayors, governors, and city managers, while chief executives in educational environments include principals, superintendent, and university presidents.

Chief executives typically need at least a bachelor's degree, though many hold a graduate degree in business, management, or public administration. Work experience, especially as a manager, prepares chief executives to function as decision-makers, leaders, and problem-solvers within an organization.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $104,690
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
  • Industry: Management

Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineers design and develop electronics for use in navigation, communication, and transportation equipment. They find ways to optimize electrical power; improve existing products; and solve problems related to electrical motors, systems, and controls. Electrical engineers must also ensure equipment meets industry standards, project specifications, and regulatory codes.

Electrical engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering or a related field. They also need strong mathematical, communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $101,250
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 2%
  • Industry: Engineering

Medical and Health Services Managers

Also referred to as healthcare administrators, medical and health services managers oversee the delivery of healthcare services. They may work in hospitals, clinics, or private practice settings, coordinating with staff and medical professionals. They maintain patient, facility, and financial records; monitor budgets; and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Professionals who focus on the maintenance and security of patient records function as health information managers and have in-depth training in health information software. Medical and health services managers need a bachelor's degree in health administration or a related area and several years of professional experience.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $100,980
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 18%
  • Industry: Management

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts keep electronic data secure and safe. They plan and carry out security protocols for organizations and businesses, installing firewalls, encryption programs, and related software to protect computer networks and systems. They also develop plans to recover compromised data, assess potential vulnerabilities, and recommend security enhancements.

Information security analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in a computer-related discipline, such as information assurance, programming, or computer science. Professional experience in information systems, database administration, and network development also prepares individuals for roles as information security analysts.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $99,730
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 32%
  • Industry: Computer and information technology

Administrative Services Managers

Administrative services managers work for business and organizations, coordinating office activities, supervising staff, maintaining financial records, and implementing policies. They often focus on facilities, ensuring safety and upkeep with buildings, grounds, and equipment. Many administrative service managers concentrate on records and information related to human resources, finances, and business communications.

Administrative services managers typically need a bachelor's degree in business, management, accounting, finance, or a related field. Administrative services managers also need strong communication, organization, and time management skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $96,940
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 7%
  • Industry: Management

Atmospheric and Space Scientists

Atmospheric and space scientists study weather and climates. They measure temperature, pressure, wind, and related factors as they forecast and keep records about weather events and climate change. They also study weather models, issue warnings, and generate reports.

Atmospheric scientists may specialize in broadcast meteorology and weather forecasting, finding employment with local news stations. They may also work as climate scientists, using theoretical foundations and climate change models to understand future developments of the global climate. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in atmospheric science, meteorology, or a related field. Some positions require a graduate degree.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $95,380
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
  • Industry: Life, physical, and social science

Construction Managers

As supervisors of construction projects, construction managers coordinate building and renovation plans. They prepare estimates and budgets for personnel and equipment, establish job timelines, and keep records about progress and delays. Construction managers must comply with building codes, apply for permits, and adhere to safety guidelines.

Bachelor's degrees in engineering, architecture, and construction management prepare students for roles as construction managers. Experience in the construction industry, ideally working under the mentorship of an experienced manager, also serves future construction managers well. Construction managers need strong technical, time management, leadership, and customer-service skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $95,260
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 10%
  • Industry: Management

Art Directors

Art directors develop and oversee the aesthetic and creative vision of a project or organization. They often work with artists, designers, writers, and photographers to produce publications, packaging, and video productions.

Art directors need experience as artists or art designers. They often hold a bachelor's degree in graphic design, fine arts, photography, or a related field. Art directors must foster creativity in others, inspire fellow artists, and possess strong communication and collaboration skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $94,220
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 1%
  • Industry: Arts and design

Database Administrators

Database administrators focus on storing and organizing data. They use specialized software to ensure data security, monitor database performance, and grant permissions to users. They may focus on the physical and technical components of a system database or provide support to an application-based database.

Database administrators can work in finance, retail, and healthcare. They often hold a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Previous experience as a database specialist facilitates a career in database administration, as does certification in specific database software.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $93,750
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 9%
  • Industry: Computer and information technology

Materials Engineers

Materials engineers create new products using plastics, metals, and other materials. They develop and test designs, evaluating how materials perform under specified conditions. By studying materials at atomic levels, materials engineers gain insight into the characteristics and applicability of substances.

As engineers who apply principles from electrical, computer, mechanical, and other subsets of engineering to their work, materials engineers benefit from a holistic understanding of the field. Materials engineers need extensive analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. They also typically need a bachelor's degree in materials science or materials engineering.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $93,360
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 0%
  • Industry: Engineering

Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

Marine engineers and naval architects design ships, tankers, aircraft carriers, and submarines. Marine engineers develop and oversee internal machinery and equipment for propulsion, steering, and electronics, while naval architects focus on external structure, stability, and safety. Marine engineers and naval architects work along coasts and offshore, participating in water and wind power generation projects.

They typically need a bachelor's degree in mechanical or electrical engineering. Many colleges and universities located near water offer programs that focus on marine engineering. Marine engineers and naval architects need a deep understanding of engineering principles, mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $92,400
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 9%
  • Industry: Engineering

Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the Earth's composition and structure. There are several types of geoscientists. Geologists focus on rocks, minerals, and other physical aspects of the Earth's surface, while geochemists examine elements in water and land. Geophysicists explore the magnetic, electric, and gravitational properties of the Earth; oceanographers examine bodies of water and coastal areas; and seismologists assess earthquakes and related seismic activity.

All geoscientists carry out experiments; assess data; and present their findings to colleagues, employers, regulatory bodies, and the general public. Geoscientists typically need a bachelor's degree. They should enjoy being outdoors and possess strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $92,040
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
  • Industry: Life, physical, and social science

Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers apply engineering principles and practices to biological and medical sciences, developing equipment, devices, and systems for use in healthcare environments. They may focus on medical diagnostics or treatments, researching and designing equipment for use by clinicians and medical professionals. Additional areas of specialization include rehabilitation engineering, biomaterials, and systems physiology.

Biomedical engineers typically need at least a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering, although most biomedical engineers possess a graduate degree and extensive research training. Biomedical engineers benefit from work experience in a medical or laboratory setting.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $91,410
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 4%
  • Industry: Engineering

Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers find ways to keep people, property, and work environments safe. They work in industrial settings, assessing potential hazards and developing procedures to prevent damage, illness, and injury. They must ensure compliance with state, federal, and industrial regulations related to fire prevention and protection, hazardous materials, and the environment.

Health and safety engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering, health sciences, or a related field and relevant professional experience. They also need strong observational, problem-solving, and communication skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $91,410
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%
  • Industry: Engineering

Mining and Geological Engineers

Mining and geological engineers design tools and techniques to extract minerals from the Earth. Geological engineers identify mineral deposit sites in anticipation of mining activities, identifying the most effective methods for extraction. Mining engineers plan and oversee mine construction, coordinate transportation to and from processing facilities, and monitor mining operations.

Mining and geological engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in engineering, ideally with a specialization in mining or geological sciences. However, most mining and geological engineers possess a graduate degree and training in laboratory and fieldwork settings.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $91,160
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 3%
  • Industry: Engineering

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts assess how companies and organizations use technology. They analyze existing software, hardware, processes, and procedures to find more efficient and effective options. They also oversee upgrades and implement the use of new systems and perform tests to ensure proper function of computer technologies.

Computer systems analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, or a related field. They also need an understanding of finance and management to apply business and technology principles to their duties.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $90,920
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 9%
  • Industry: Computer and information technology

Environmental Engineers

Tasked with preventing, mitigating, and finding solutions to environmental problems, environmental engineers find ways to reduce pollution, waste, and related hazards. They prepare reports on the environmental health of the planet, develop plans to improve environmental conditions, and monitor existing programs. They also consult with environmental scientists; provide guidance to corporations, government agencies, and communities about sustainability measures; and assist with cleanups after environmental emergencies.

Environmental engineers need a bachelor's degree in engineering. They also need strong analytical, problem-solving, and observational skills. Alongside licensure as a professional engineer, environmental engineers can earn additional credentials through the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $88,860
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%
  • Industry: Engineering

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, and build devices for commercial and industrial use. They study objects and systems, applying mathematical principles to assess how they move. Mechanical engineers also integrate sensors and controllers into devices, use computer-aided software, and test prototypes to ensure safe and efficient function. They may specialize in areas like robotics, automobile research, or heating and cooling systems.

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or a related field, like engineering technology or general engineering. These professionals need strong problem-solving, analytical, and mathematical skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $88,430
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 4%
  • Industry: Engineering

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find efficient ways to optimize worker interaction with machines, materials, and information. They develop workflow plans, manufacturing processes, and delivery systems based on overall production goals. Industrial engineers apply mathematics, science, and engineering concepts to operations in transportation, technical services, and manufacturing.

They must be creative, analytical, and effective problem-solvers and possess strong mathematical and communication skills. They also typically need a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $88,020
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
  • Industry: Engineering

Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors offer guidance on investments, financial planning, retirement, and taxes. They meet with individuals to determine financial goals; explain options for financial services; and educate clients on stocks, bonds, and related investments with both short- and long-term goals in mind.

A bachelor's degree in finance, economics, or accounting prepares individuals for roles as personal financial advisors. Coursework in statistics, data analysis, and risk management benefits future financial advisors, as does professional experience in a bank, an investment firm, or comparable setting.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $87,850
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 7%
  • Industry: Math

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems. They oversee construction of roads, bridges, buildings, and sewers, developing plans for cost-efficient and environmentally friendly public and private works. They survey and inspect locations, decide on building materials, and evaluate labor and resource needs for specific projects. Civil engineers may specialize in areas such as construction engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, or transportation engineering.

A bachelor's degree in civil engineering, engineering technology, or environmental engineering prepares individuals for careers in civil engineering. These professionals need strong decision-making, organizational, and problem-solving skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $87,060
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%
  • Industry: Engineering

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers use programming languages to write code for software and computer applications. They write new code, test existing code, and repair errors when detected. They may work as generalists, using a variety of languages and constructing codes for different types of programs, or specialize in a language or specific type of programming.

Computer programmers typically need a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. They also need strong problem-solving and analytical skills. Many computer programmers earn vendor-specific certifications to advance to roles as software developers, computer systems analysts, or information systems managers.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $86,550
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): -7%
  • Industry: Computer and information technology

Management Analysts

Also called management consultants, management analysts assess the overall efficiency of an organization. They work with executives and managers to determine goals, implementing plans and policies to enhance profits and processes. They gather data through interviews, financial records, and observation and present their findings in written reports or presentations, making recommendations for changes and improvements.

Management analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in business administration, management, or a related field. Many management analysts also have professional business experience. Industry certifications can help these professionals advance their careers.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $85,260
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 14%
  • Industry: Business and financial

Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts apply mathematical and analytical methods to identify and overcome challenges within an organization's existing processes and practices. Statistical analysis, predictive modeling, and computer simulations help operations research analysts find practical, effective solutions. Finance and insurance, technical services, and manufacturing employ the most operations research analysts in the United States.

These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in statistics, computer science, analytics, business, or a related field. Operations research analysts need strong mathematical, analytical, and problem-solving skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $84,810
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 26%
  • Industry: Business and financial

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators install, maintain, and update existing networks and computer systems for businesses and organizations. They also ensure data and information security and test overall performance regularly. They may supervise computer support staff, train network and computer systems users, and suggest upgrades.

Network and computer systems administrators typically need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Experience with programming languages, computer engineering, and systems design serve network and computer systems engineers well, as do certifications offered by vendors and vendor-neutral organizations.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $83,510
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%
  • Industry: Computer and information technology

Geographers

Geographers study the Earth, its physical form, and human geographic circumstances. They use technology, surveys, interviews, imaging, and photography to gather qualitative and quantitative data. Physical geographers explore regions, landforms, water, and climate, while human geographers focus on economic, political, environmental, and cultural issues.

Most geographers work for federal or state government agencies. Entry-level positions require at least a bachelor's degree in geography or global information systems. Geographers can use practical experience, advanced degrees, and certifications to advance their careers.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $81,540
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 3%
  • Industry: Life, physical, and social science

Hydrologists

Hydrologists assess the movement of water on the Earth's surface. They investigate the formation of bodies of water, precipitation patterns, and groundwater levels to solve problems related to water purity and availability. They also assess the effects of pollution, sedimentation, and erosion on water supply, working with fellow scientists to develop irrigation systems and other water-related projects.

Hydrologists typically need a bachelor's degree in geosciences, engineering, or a related field. Most colleges and universities do not offer a hydrology degree, but learners can gain the knowledge and skills required for the position by studying life sciences, statistics, public policy, and environmental law.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $81,270
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 7%
  • Industry: Life, physical, and social science

Financial Examiners

Financial examiners assess financial records to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. They review balance sheets, income and expense reports, and loan documents. Financial examiners who focus on risk assessment evaluate the financial health of an organisation to determine strategies for continued viability. Consumer compliance financial managers look at lending activity to evaluate lending policies and processes.

These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or economics. To work as a financial examiner for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, individuals need at least six credits of college accounting coursework. Certification as a public accountant and participation on an examination team can lead to senior financial examiner positions.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $81,090
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 7%
  • Industry: Business and financial

Architects

Architects design, plan, and oversee the construction of buildings. They may work with architectural firms, developing office buildings, factories, and other large structures. Independent architects work with clients to design houses or single rooms. Many architects design outdoor spaces, commercial structures, and municipal buildings as well.

Architects produce blueprints and plans using computer-aided drafting and modeling software. During the building process, they visit construction sites, consult with engineers and contractors, and work to create the internal aesthetic of a space. These professionals typically need at least a bachelor's degree and relevant experience. They also need strong design, analytical, and problem-solving skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $80,750
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%
  • Industry: Engineering

Agricultural Engineers

Agricultural engineers develop solutions to problems related to agricultural production, storage, and processing. They assess environmental factors that influence animal husbandry and crop growth, test machinery and equipment, and oversee construction of irrigation systems and agricultural facilities.

Agricultural engineers may work on farms, in forest settings, at food processing plants, or at waste management facilities. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree in agricultural or biological engineering. They also need strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills.

  • Median BLS Salary (2020): $80,720
  • Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%
  • Industry: Engineering

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree?

Earning a bachelor's degree provides specialized knowledge and skills in a specific field. Bachelor's programs prepare students for both entry-level jobs and graduate school.

Bachelor's programs prepare students for both entry-level jobs and graduate school.

Four-year degrees are available in many fields of study, but some graduates find their skills in much higher demand than others. For example, employers in STEM fields often cannot find as many qualified candidates as they need, putting STEM graduates in high demand. This demand results in high salaries.

All kinds of people decide to pursue bachelor's degrees, including students coming straight from high school, working professionals who want to advance in their profession, and adults who want to change careers.

The most common type of bachelor's degrees are bachelor of science (BS) and bachelor of arts (BA) degrees. BS degrees feature greater specialization in the major, while BA degrees include more courses in humanities, arts, foreign languages, and social sciences.

Best-Paying Industries

Some profitable industries -- including management, engineering, and computer and information technology -- pay employees with bachelor's degrees much higher salaries than other fields. The most lucrative industries rely on a highly skilled workforce and can find it difficult to find qualified applicants.

Management

The BLS reports that professionals in management occupations earn more than any other major occupational group, with a median annual salary of $106,660. Management careers exist in nearly every industry, including government agencies, schools, and business service companies.

Management professionals typically need leadership, communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. Students who want to pursue management jobs typically pursue bachelor's degrees in business administration or business management.

Some managers hold a degree in an area related to their field. For example, public administration managers may hold a bachelor's degree in public administration. Many managers start in lower positions and work their way up through their organization.

Engineering

The engineering industry encompasses many specialized fields, including environmental engineering, petroleum engineering, civil engineering, and nuclear engineering. The BLS projects nearly 140,000 new engineering jobs between 2016 and 2026 and reports a median annual salary of $91,010 for engineers, more than twice the national median wage for all workers.

Engineers earn high salaries because of their in-demand advanced technical skills. Many employers struggle to fill engineering positions with qualified individuals.

Students who want to pursue a job in engineering should earn a bachelor's in a specific engineering discipline, like mechanical, civil, or chemical engineering. Many engineers earn a master's degree to advance in the field.

Computer and Information Technology

The BLS reports computer and information technology occupations earn a median annual wage of $88,240. The BLS projects a 12% job growth rate in the field between 2018 and 2028.

The industry pays its workers so well because computer and information technology jobs typically require high levels of education and training. The industry's demand for qualified professionals outpaces the supply, enabling prospective employees to choose from a greater number of jobs and demand better compensation.

Computer and information technology professionals need analytical, communication, math, and critical thinking skills. Students seeking a job in computer and information technology pursue bachelor's degrees in fields like computer science, information technology, computer programming, and software development.

STEM Degrees

STEM majors cover a variety of specialized fields, including biology, aerospace engineering, information technology, and computer science.

STEM graduates qualify for jobs in profitable and expanding industries. The BLS reports a national average salary of $87,570 for STEM occupations compared to an average $45,700 for non-STEM occupations. STEM careers pay so well because the STEM industries are highly profitable and the demand for qualified STEM professionals outpaces the supply.

Are Non-STEM Degrees Worth Pursuing?

Earning a STEM degree leads to a promising career and salary outlook, but not all students choose to take this path. Some students do not have an interest or aptitude in STEM fields. Many students find immense value in pursuing non-STEM degrees. Potential salary is not the only factor to consider when deciding what type of degree to pursue.

Many people earn degrees with lower salary potential, fewer job openings, or slower job growth to pursue their passion or because they want to make a difference in another field. For example, students often pursue degrees that lead to careers like teaching, social work, and counseling because they prioritize helping others.

Majoring in art does not typically immediately open the door to lucrative careers, but many art students still find value in studying a subject they care about for four years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What four-year degree pays the most?

The highest-paying bachelor's degrees include those in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Computer science and technology-related degrees often pay off the most.

What non-STEM majors make money?

Earning a STEM degree is not the only way to qualify for a well-paying career. Lucrative non-STEM majors include management, business, finance, public relations, and marketing.

Are well-paying degrees hard?

Many students find the highest-paying bachelor's degrees challenging to pursue. Learners who put in the hard work and time to master their field usually find it rewarding.

What is the best-paying STEM degree?

Computer science ranks among the best-paying STEM degrees. The BLS reports computer and information systems manager as the most lucrative STEM position for graduates with a bachelor's degree.

What can I do with a bachelor of science degree?

Earning a bachelor's degree can open the door to many career and salary opportunities typically unavailable to those without a four-year education. Specific opportunities vary by major.

Take the next step towards your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

Woman working at desk