Skip to main content

Main Area


Best jobs that require a bachelor's degree

  • Best jobs that require a bachelor's degree

    Deciding on a career path can be difficult, especially considering new careers in technology and media have sprung up in the past decade or so. In an age when college grads are facing sizable loans that make it difficult to invest in an advanced degree, pursuing jobs that require only a bachelor's degree may be the best way to go.

    Enrollment in college undergrad programs has been declining, yet there are many career paths that having a bachelor's degree will get your foot in the door, such as those in the fields of engineering, finance, and administration. One thing colleges can do to keep their enrollments up is to increase graduation rates of their current student body. The more high school graduates and college students who know about meaningful, enjoyable, high-paying careers that can be earned with an undergraduate degree, the higher the probability that they will pursue these degrees to completion.

    Using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook and Payscale's list of the most and least meaningful jobs, Stacker has tallied occupations ranked by job index, which weights annual pay at 50%, job satisfaction at 25%, and job meaning at 25%. Each job criterion has been compared to the greatest recorded value among jobs that require a baccalaureate degree. The job index is compared and scaled to the maximum score of 91.56 to determine the final ranking out of 100 points. The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook was updated in April 2019, and the Payscale list is comprised of 2.7 million people who took the survey between June 2013 and June 2015.

    The “meaningful” job average is based on two factors from the Payscale list: high satisfaction and high meaning. High satisfaction is derived from the percentage of jobholders who said they find their jobs “extremely satisfying” or “fairly satisfying.” High meaning is derived from the percentage of jobholders who, when asked if their job makes the world a better place, responded “very much so” or “yes.” The list derived from the BLS is based on jobs that require a bachelor's degree as an entry-level requirement.

    You may also like: Best jobs that don't require a college degree

  • #50. Computer systems analysts

    - Job index: 63.05
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 69%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 46%
    - Median pay: $71,100

    Successful computer systems analysts must be able to research and synthesize large swaths of data, install new systems and train employees in them, solve problems and think critically, communicate efficiently, and read technical reports and manuals. Typically, those who want to work in this area need a bachelor's degree in computer science and a background in the specific field in which they want to work. For example, doing systems analysis for a hospital would require some previous work in health care. Analysts are integral to any organization because they make sure everyday operations run as efficiently as possible.


  • #49. Forensic science technicians

    - Job index: 63.19
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 73%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 72%
    - Median pay: $52,100

    Forensic science technicians should have a background in multiple areas of natural science to analyze crime-scene evidence on chemical and biological levels. They must pay keen attention to detail, be organized, think critically, and clearly describe their methodology in case they have to testify in court. Some forensic science techs collect evidence at crime scenes, others work only in labs. Those seeking to work in this field require a degree in forensic science, biology, or chemistry. Some on-the-job training is required for technicians working in both labs and in the field, and the length of training depends on the area of focus. Forensic science techs help solve crimes and can help convict criminals by identifying suspects and determining a victim's cause of death, for example.

  • #48. Compliance officers, except agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation

    - Job index: 63.54
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 71%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 63%
    - Median pay: $60,000

    Considering compliance officers are responsible for making sure a company follows its internal and external laws and policies, someone working in this role needs integrity and honesty, leadership and networking skills, knowledge of risk management, and strong negotiation skills. Becoming a compliance officer in most fields requires a bachelor's degree in the field of interest or in finance or business, with coursework in ethics and law. An internship related to accounting or compliance would strongly benefit anyone looking to break into the field. Compliance officers are crucial to any business because if a company violates a regulation or policy, it could face serious legal consequences or jeopardize its reputation.

  • #47. Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents

    - Job index: 63.62
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 72%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 38%
    - Median pay: $75,600

    Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents need backgrounds in economics and accounting, keen math skills, meticulous attention to detail, and a strong sense of purpose. Tax examiners usually handle individuals and small business tax returns; revenue agents do tax accounting for the IRS, local government agencies, or large corporations; collectors are in charge of overdue payments. Examiners need either a bachelor's degree in accounting or a combination of education and experience in tax or audit work; collectors need a college degree and experience as a loan officer, in collections or in customer service; revenue agents need a bachelor's in accounting, economics, or business administration. These are important roles because taxes and revenues are vital to a society's ability to provide and administer public services.


  • #46. Dietitians and nutritionists

    - Job index: 63.67
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 74%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 78%
    - Median pay: $48,700

    Professionals in nutrition field need great interpersonal skills, high levels of organization, excellent problem-solving skills, and a capacity for communicating research findings in a relatively simple way. Nutritionists must also be sensitive toward people who might feel uncomfortable talking about their diets. Apart from a bachelor's degree, aspiring dietitians will get the training they need through internships and coursework, and most states require a license to be a practicing dietitian. These kinds of roles help people eat healthy diets, which can lead to lower instances of disease and a better quality of life.

  • #45. Purchasing managers

    - Job index: 64.28
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 73%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 49%
    - Median pay: $69,400

    Purchasing managers can work in all kinds of environments, from clothing retail to government agencies. People in these jobs should be able to negotiate and network, analyze data, make timely decisions, communicate effectively and have natural leadership skills. A bachelor's degree in operations management is typically required, as is some hands-on experience. Many companies offer a couple of years of in-house training. Purchasing managers are integral to any company because they can save the company money through smart purchasing decisions and ensure the prompt delivery of goods.

  • #44. Personal financial advisors

    - Job index: 64.40
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 77%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 58%
    - Median pay: $61,300

    Someone who advises individuals on insurance, mortgages, investments, and taxes needs excellent math and analytical skills, top-notch interpersonal skills, the ability to understand data and recognize trends, and the sense to foresee how different markets will be an asset to clients. In addition to a background in economics, finance, and investments, those who are hired by a firm can usually participate in a built-in training program, and advisors can even obtain financial planning certification to help them get more clients. Financial advisors help individuals and families manage cash flow, save money, and make smart decisions to ensure financial security.

  • #43. Public relations managers

    - Job index: 64.92
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 73%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 65%
    - Median pay: $60,600

    Being a successful public relations manager means having strong oral and written communication skills, being well-versed in different media, knowing how to work with news outlets, and having experience in strategic marketing and public speaking. Those seeking a job in public relations management must have a degree in public relations, communications, or a similar field, as well as several years of experience in entry-level positions. PR managers also can become certified via the Public Relations Society of America. PR is key for a business's branding and sales, and to grow client visibility.

  • #42. Mechanical engineers

    - Job index: 64.96
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 69%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 53%
    - Median pay: $71,000

    If you want a career as a mechanical engineer, you'll need razor-sharp problem-solving skills, the ability to communicate effectively, a creative mind to develop products, and excellent math skills. Aspiring mechanical engineers need a license to practice, which besides a bachelor of science degree from a four-year college accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, requires supervised work experience and passing an engineering exam. Many things we use every day are mechanically engineered, such as generators and air conditioners, and simple machines like levers, pulleys, and the wheel.

  • #41. Materials engineers

    - Job index: 65.64
    - Employees reporting high job satisfaction: 65%
    - Employees reporting high job meaningfulness: 50%
    - Median pay: $77,100

    To plan new projects, analyze labor costs, and design custom products and processes, a materials engineer must have keen math skills, be able to analyze how materials should be made to hold up in various conditions, be adept at solving problems, and have exemplary written and oral communication skills. Although a license isn't required for entry-level jobs, it would benefit those seeking to climb in the ranks. A license entails a bachelor's degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology-accredited program, passing grades on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Professional Engineering exam, and usually at least four years of work experience. Materials engineering is instrumental in the design of all kinds of products, from biomaterials used in medicine to metals and glasses used in everyday objects.