We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.
College is typically considered a steadfast path toward a promising career filled with professional development and financial stability.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in March 2020, employment rates were 86% higher for 25- to 34-year olds with at least a four-year degree.
However, not all college degrees come with the best hiring prospects. For example, you may have more luck finding employment with an education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) than with the humanities.
If you’re interested in a career with a steady paycheck, long-term growth, and a sense of purpose, you might want to think about majoring in one of the following degree programs.
1. Mathematics or Statistics
Mathematics and statistics majors gain essential skills, such as computational problem-solving, quantitative and analytical thinking, and logical reasoning. In the workforce, graduates with mathematics degrees leverage their expertise in financial institutions, government, healthcare, research, academia, business, and several other fields.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is a 33% job outlook for workers with a background in math. Additionally, the average salary is $80,000 for mathematicians with a bachelor’s degree.
Similar college programs with lucrative career possibilities include finance, accounting, and economics.
Engineering is one of the top things to go to college for to obtain a collaborative and challenging career with a profitable income. Engineering majors are innovative and creative with an affinity for math, science, and technology.
Depending on the programs available at your school, you may have the option to concentrate on civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical, computer, industrial, aerospace, architectural, environmental, or other engineering fields.
The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) report stated the median annual salary for all engineers was $94,600 in 2018. Engineering fields also had a wage that was $38,640 higher than any other occupation in the United States.
3. Business Administration
A business administration degree could lead to endless career possibilities in wide-ranging fields with room for professional growth and leadership roles. Whether you have an entrepreneurial spirit or are unsure about what you want to do upon graduation, a business degree prepares you for success.
The BLS maintains a list of entry-level positions for bachelor’s degrees in business, including the following:
- Budget analysts
- Human resources generalists
- Market research analysts
- Event planners
- Property appraisers
Business and financial fields anticipate an 8% employment growth rate by 2030. Additionally, the median salary for business majors was $72,250 in May 2020.
4. Biological Science
STEM careers are some of the highest-earning fields in the global workforce. Of all the science majors, biological science is one of the most in-demand degrees you can obtain. Majoring in biology can open doors to careers as:
- Biological technicians
- Genetic counselors
- Environmental scientists
- Forensic scientists
- Health educator
Many biological science careers may require an advanced degree, such as a master’s or doctorate; however, there are plenty of opportunities for entry-level positions in the field. Of course, the higher the degree, the higher the salary. Biology majors have the potential to earn a median salary of $65,000 per year.
5. Computer Science
Students majoring in computer science gain analytical and critical thinking, problem-solving, mathematical and technological proficiency, and communication skills. With an anticipated 13% job outlook by 2030, graduates of computer science programs may pursue some of the following careers:
- Computer and information research scientists
- Computer programmers
- Software developers
- Information security analysts
- Web developers
- Database administrators
- UX designers
A computer science major can earn a highly livable wage depending on your field. For example, computer programmers earned an average salary of $89,190 in 2020. Likewise, the information security analysts—individuals who safeguard an organization’s computer systems—earned a median wage of $103,590 in May 2020.
Choosing the Best Degree Program for Occupational Success
The best degree program to achieve occupational success is the one that excites you most. Studies have shown that only 20% of employees are passionate about their work. If you’re looking to obtain a lucrative career after graduation, it takes more than majoring in a particular program. Consider what subject will drive your ambition, as well.