college majors pay

Highest Paying

University Degrees



earn field (2) specialty
grad typical major (3)
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salary stagnant summary



Earning a four-year bachelor’s degree in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) is a good way to earn a higher salary after graduating from college — especially with engineering majors.

Petroleum Engineering

“The money doesn’t hurt,” says Jennifer Stewart, 22, who graduated with a degree in petroleum engineering last year from Texas A&M University, College Station. “One of the great things about petroleum engineering is you can graduate with a bachelor’s and immediately start working at a high salary.”

Those majoring in petroleum engineering earn the highest midcareer salary at $136,000 annually, according to the report “Economic Value of College Majors” released by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Differences in Earnings

Economists say that pay in the STEM fields keeps growing while salaries in teaching and social services careers remain stagnant.

The typical college grad will make around $33,000 for an early career salary, and that increases to around $61,000 over time for a bachelor’s degree holder, according to the report.

A degree in petroleum engineering pays $4.8 million over a graduate’s career compared with early childhood education, which pays $1.4 million, the center finds.

Oil and Finance

“For earning a higher salary, you want to be tied to the lifeblood of the economy, which is still oil. And the other one is to be connected to money, which is Wall Street,” says Anthony Carnevale, the center’s director.

Here are the center’s top 10 majors with the highest midcareer salaries (ages 25 to 59). This is a summary of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce report, “Economic Value of College Majors”.


Rank College Major Median Annual Income
1. Petroleum Engineering $136,000
2. Pharmacy Science $113,000
3. Metallurgical Engineering $98,000
4. Mining and Mineral Engineering $97,000
5. Chemical Engineering $96,000
6. Electrical Engineer $93,000
7. Aerospace Engineer $90,000
8. Mechanical Engineer $87,000
9. Computer Engineer $87,000
10. Geological Engineer $87,000


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1. Science and engineering university graduates earn very good money. True or false?

2. Do you have to have a master’s or doctorate degree in petroleum engineering to earn good money?

3. All college graduates can make lots of money. Yes or no?

4. Which engineering field has the highest income? Why does it have the highest salary?

5. Is there a message or take-home lesson in this text?


A. What have your teachers, parents and others said about university and careers?

B. What are the most popular majors in university?

C. Most students would like to major in engineering, but it’s a very difficult subject.

D. Does you city and country need more scientists, engineers and computer experts?

E. What will happen in the future?



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