20 Highest-Paying Jobs With an Undergraduate Degree

You’ve probably heard that the key to a better paying career is to attend college and get a degree. However, the truth is that, in some professions, you need more than an undergraduate degree to succeed. Indeed, some degrees aren’t worth the amount of student loans that you have to take out in order to complete them. In some cases, you have to go on to get a graduate degree or professional degree to make it worth your while. And, for some professions, even having a Ph.D. won’t lead to a high paying career!

Other undergraduate degrees, though, are another story. In some cases, you can start out with a high salary — and see superior earnings for the rest of your working life. Get an undergraduate scholarship, and your return on investment is even better, since you won’t need to repay as much in loans. If you want to really take off with a great career, you might want to consider earning an undergraduate degree that will qualify you for one of  20 of the highest paying jobs you can do with an undergraduate degree.

It’s hard to pinpoint, exactly, which jobs are the highest paying. One of the things you can do is visit a web site, like Salary.com or Payscale.com, that offers insight into what the average pay is for different jobs. Realize, though, that actual pay will differ according to the company you work for, where you end up living, and other factors. Our list includes information from Payscale, looking at the starting median annual salary (our list is ordered by starting salary), as well as what you might expect to make about the middle of your career.

  1. Petroleum Engineering: If you are interested in working with the engineering aspects of petroleum production (and this can include natural gas as well as oil), this might be the job for you. Learn about exploration, and estimate the recoverable volume of a potential find. Starting median pay: $93,000. Mid-career median pay: $157,000.
  2. Chemical Engineering: You might be starting to notice a trend: Engineering jobs are high paying. Chemical engineering deals with the combinations of different substances to make something new. If you like chemistry, this might be the job for you. Starting median pay: $64,800. Mid-career median pay: $108,000.
  3. Aerospace Engineering: Design planes, spaceships and other vehicles and devices for the air. This is often an exciting job that deals with making air travel more efficient — and space travel more of a reality. Starting median pay: $59,400. Mid-career median pay: $108,000.
  4. Nuclear Engineering: Work with the smallest particles on earth, and build better reactors. Even though nuclear isn’t huge, it is still a specialized field, and many cities get their power from nuclear reactors. It’s also a big field in Europe. Starting median pay: $63,900. Mid-career median pay: $104,000.
  5. Electrical Engineering: You can make a good living if you understand how to properly apply electricity and electromagnetism. Electrical engineers work in many different fields, including telecommunications, electronic device design and engineering, and more. Starting median pay: $60,800. Mid-career median pay: $104,000.
  6. Applied Mathematics: If you know how to take mathematical methods and apply them to different scientific areas, you could make a great deal of money. Applied maths are also useful in different industries, and in business. You can use your higher math skills in a number of ways that can benefit you. Starting median pay: $56,400. Mid-career median pay: $101,000.
  7. Biomedical Engineering: With medical technology advancing so fast, it helps to have those who understand engineering principles on hand. In this profession, you can apply engineering to medicine and biology. Starting median salary: $54,800. Mid-career median salary:$101,000.
  8. Computer Engineering: Build better computers, and learn how to make them work better. You can encourage the advance of computer technology — and be well paid for it. Starting median pay: $61,200. Mid-career median pay: $87,700.
  9. Software Engineering: Improve software so that it does more, and maintain it. Software engineering is all about making better programs, that do more, and may even have specific functions. Starting median pay: $56,700. Mid-career median pay: $91,300.
  10. Computer Science: This job involves understanding computers, how they work, and how they can be used to improve life. It’s a more general field, but one that pays reasonably well. Starting median salary: $56,200. Mid-career median salary: $97,700.
  11. Civil Engineering: This type of engineering deals with the design of different civil structures, such as buildings, roads, sewer systems and more. Starting median salary: $53,500. Mid-career median salary: $93,400.
  12. Management Information Systems: Provide information meant for effective management. You will coordinate technology, information and people to ensure that everything is done efficiently and effectively. Starting median pay: $50,900. Mid-career median pay: $90,300.
  13. Physics: If you have an undergraduate degree in physics, there are a number of different science jobs you can have, from applied development, to research. Starting median pay: $50,700. Mid-career median pay: $99,600.
  14. Construction Management: Get a degree in construction management, and you can direct others as they complete different projects. Coordinate work schedules and duties, and work with a number of different stakeholders. Starting median pay: $50,400. Mid-career median pay: $87,000.
  15. Statistics: If you know how to interpret data, and then communicate it in meaningful ways, you could have a career in statistics. Statisticians are used in almost every industry, from government work to education to science to construction. Starting median pay: $50,000. Mid-career median pay: $93,400.
  16. Information Systems: This field deals with the way information moves through different systems, and deals mainly with computers. Learn about information architecture in computers, and put that knowledge to good use in your career. Starting median salary: $49,300. Mid-career median salary: $87,100.
  17. Economics: “The dismal science” isn’t so dismal when you consider pay. Analyze the way goods, services and money move through society, and you could do reasonably well. Starting median salary: $48,800. Mid-career median salary: $97,800.
  18. Finance: Different careers in finance can provide you with pretty decent pay. From financial planning, to accountancy, to making loans, you might do well in such a field if you have the right skills. Starting median salary; $47,500. Mid-career median salary: $91,500.
  19. Mathematics: Different jobs with a mathematics degree can be rewarding. This might include work in different industries, as well as teaching — math teachers are in high demand. Starting median salary: $46,400. Mid-career median salary: $88,300.
  20. Government: Get a degree related to government service, and you could do a number of things, at various levels of government. Starting median salary: $41,500. Mid-career median salary: $88,300.
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