The 9 most lucrative college majors
Recent advice in landing a top-paying job has steered college students to so-called STEM degrees, or science, technology, engineering and math.
But new research from career site LinkedIn finds that's not always the right move. While many of the majors linked to top-paying jobs are in the STEM fields, a few standouts don't require advanced math or science classes, the study found.
That may provide some measure of reassurance to students who aren't inclined toward science or math, as well as their parents. Liberal arts majors have been maligned as graduating without many marketable skills, for instance, yet the study finds that these grads earn the 13th highest incomes of all majors, with median annual pay of $72,500.
Workers with degrees in such "fuzzy" subjects may end up using their skills in professions outside those fields, LinkedIn noted.
For instance, liberal arts majors may use their writing and communication skills to find jobs in marketing, public relations or other fields.
Education in general makes a big impact on income. Americans with graduate degrees tend to earn the most. For instance, those with medical degrees earn an average of $161,000 per year. Those with bachelors degrees take home $79,800 per year. But workers with only high school diplomas earn about $51,500 annually.
LinkedIn's study was based on salary data from more than 2 million members of the social network as of April 2017.
Read on to learn about the nine highest-paying fields of study in the U.S.
9. Physics - $78,400
Physics majors earn a median pay of $78,400, making the field the ninth-highest paying of all those surveyed by LinkedIn.
Because physics majors typically excel in math and have a grounding in science, they're considered good problem solvers and may be appealing to employers in a number of fields, from manufacturing companies to research organizations.
8. Electrical and electronic engineering: $78,600
Electrical engineering majors typically earn about $78,600 in their careers. While they study the physics of electricity within systems while in college, their careers can take them into a variety of fields, ranging from working on computer design to power stations.
7. Law: $79,000
Studying law as an undergrad may be the first step to going to law school and passing the bar, but it can also prepare students for roles in other sectors, such as in management or in research.
Workers with an undergrad degree in law earn about $79,000 per year.
6. Architecture, design and applied art: $81,200
Students who focus on architecture, design or applied art can find solid careers after college, with median income of $81,200.
While the path for an architecture student may be clear, design and applied art students also have plenty of opportunities to find work, whether as a graphic designer or working with technology companies to design new products.
5. Business management and administration: $83,700
Business majors earn median income of $83,700, making them the fifth-highest paid grads on the list.
These students can find jobs in a wide variety of industries, working in roles ranging from analysts to managers. Some may want to continue their studies by earning an master of business administration, which can bump salaries even higher. For instance, a program director with an MBA earns about double the pay of the national average salary, LinkedIn said.
4. Industrial engineering and management science - $85,800
Industrial engineering is squarely a STEM field, in which students learn how to create efficient systems that create a product or service. The largest employers of industrial engineers are in the computer and electronics industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Grads also work in fields such as machinery manufacturing and aerospace manufacturing.
3. Sociology: $87,900
Sociology, the third-highest paying major, sits outside of the STEM fields, yet grads who focused on this subject do well indeed, LinkedIn found.
Sociology majors tend to find work as counselors, therapists and researchers, according to the American Sociological Association.
2. Visual art: $90,390
The second most lucrative major is visual art, which may be surprising given the popular notion of the "starving artist." Yet many jobs that require a visual art degree are relatively high paying, LinkedIn noted. For instance, senior art directors earn about $90,000 per year.
1. Computer science: $92,300
The most lucrative field of study is computer science, LinkedIn found. That's probably no surprise given the importance of the tech industry and the growing fortunes of Apple, Amazon and other tech giants.
Computer science grads can find employment in a number of fields, ranging from designing software to working as business analysts.