College majors with the biggest jump from early to mid-career earnings

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January 15, 2021
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College majors with the biggest jump from early to mid-career earnings

Career choices are often based on future financial gain, with many college grads picking occupations that promise job growth and increased wages. Of course, loving what you do matters—and seeking out a job with meaning beats out the amount of money to be made for many. But for those who want to make the big bucks, choosing certain college majors over others can bring in bigger paychecks faster.

Stacker compiled a list of the majors that have the highest increase in pay from early to mid-career using data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Majors are ranked by the highest dollar growth in wages, with ties broken by mid-career wages and further ties broken by the unemployment rate. But even after one runs the numbers, the income for some of the reported careers with the most significant jump from early to mid-career earnings is still not enough.

Salary goals, family size, and lifestyle are all major factors in choosing a college major and future employment. Sometimes a loved one’s position is dictated by family members, including significant others or children. Some careers are easier to succeed in without having kids, while other professions are more family-friendly. When it comes to lifestyle, some choose careers that can sustain a desired way of living. Only a high-paying job will help pay for bigger homes, more expensive cars, and annual vacations. 

The litany of college majors with the highest early to mid-career earnings is diverse, beginning with medical technicians, who draw, study, and record blood samples, and ending with pharmacy graduates, who must be well-versed in organic and general chemistry to dispense prescription medications. In-between, other college majors that offer the opportunity to climb the economic ladder include interdisciplinary studies, business management, leisure and hospitality, computer science, and architecture.

Keep reading to find out the college majors with the most significant jump from early to mid-year earnings.

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#50. Medical technicians

- Median wage early career: $45,000
- Median wage mid-career: $68,000 ($23,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 1.1%
- Underemployment rate: 52%
- Share with graduate degrees: 25.6%

The medical technician curriculum includes learning to draw blood, study transfusion samples, research and record test results, and analyze fluid content. After graduation, nearly half of medical technicians find work in local and private hospitals, while almost a quarter work in medical laboratories. A small percentage pursue careers in physician’s offices or junior colleges and universities.

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#49. Sociology

- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000 ($24,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 5.1%
- Underemployment rate: 53.5%
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.8%

Studying human behavior is all in a day’s work for a sociologist. Whether employed at a research organization, university, consulting firm, or any government level, sociologists present research that purports to resolve social issues by creating reformative public policy. Some of the courses majors must pass to practice in the field include research methods, social stratification and class, race and ethnicity, and the sociology of culture, religion, politics, and economics.

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#48. Miscellaneous biological science

- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000 ($24,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.7%
- Underemployment rate: 45.7%
- Share with graduate degrees: 60.1%

After learning how to collect and analyze biology tenets with scientific equipment, a few roles a biological science major may pursue include genetic counselor, health communications specialist, and biochemist. The chosen career path is heavily determined by any five emphasis tracks a biological science major decides to study, including human, developmental, molecular and cell, ecology and evolutionary, or microbiology and immunology.

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#47. Interdisciplinary studies

- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $62,000 ($24,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 5%
- Underemployment rate: 49.3%
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.8%

The Bureau of Statistics reports the most popular interdisciplinary study careers are software developers, dieticians, registered nurses, and elementary school teachers. In 2018, 528,700 interdisciplinary graduates were employed, averaging a median salary of $50,000 annually. Ninety-six percent of students focused on intercultural studies, nutrition sciences, interdisciplinary social sciences, multi-interdisciplinary studies, cognitive science, and biopsychology.

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#46. Animal and plant sciences

- Median wage early career: $36,500
- Median wage mid-career: $61,000 ($24,500 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.3%
- Underemployment rate: 56.8%
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.6%

Animal and plant science majors take on courses including rangeland livestock production, soils, botany, and ecology. Majors who focus more on animal science get jobs on farm and ranch operations, meat and dairy processors, or processing plants. In contrast, plant science majors can follow paths that lead to becoming such careers as agronomists, soil scientists, or floral breeders.

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#45. Business management

- Median wage early career: $42,500
- Median wage mid-career: $67,000 ($24,500 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Underemployment rate: 58.8%
- Share with graduate degrees: 23.3%

There are so many employment opportunities for business management majors who learn how to plan, implement, and direct major commercial and nonprofit organizations’ affairs. Indeed reports business management majors—well-versed in subjects including algebra, calculus, psychology, sociology, and government—become employed as program, personal, or administrative assistants; human resources managers; client service directors; or development supervisors.

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#44. English language

- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.5%
- Underemployment rate: 52.5%
- Share with graduate degrees: 45%

English majors open themselves up to myriad career opportunities from teaching to journalism. Also able to land jobs in the arts and humanities sectors, those with an English language degree must learn how to research, analyze, and critique literature to understand the ideas, symbols, and content syntax. English language graduates from top universities, including Monmouth in New Jersey, and Columbia in New York, have an average starting salary of more than $41,000 annually, which is higher than average.

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#43. Liberal arts

- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.3%
- Underemployment rate: 59.5%
- Share with graduate degrees: 28.4%

Liberal arts graduates study a variety of courses in humanities, arts, and the sciences. Course examples for the three disciplines include philosophy and ethics, art history and literature, and political science and economics. Graduates, who foster strong communication skills and creative thinking in their studies, make for excellent new hires for large corporations and technology companie.

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#42. Leisure and hospitality

- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $60,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Underemployment rate: 59.8%
- Share with graduate degrees: 32%

Career possibilities for a leisure and hospitality graduate range from employment in restaurants, hotels, casinos, resorts, theme parks, or any place customers seek a good time with strong customer service. The “leisure” in the major includes understanding and managing multipurpose arenas or sporting events, while the “hospitality” part handles the restaurant and bar side. Many job titles that fall under the college major include concierge, event planner, hotel manager, and executive chef.

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#41. Ethnic studies

- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 5.9%
- Underemployment rate: 52.5%
- Share with graduate degrees: 48.8%

Examining race and ethnicity through the interdisciplinary study of minority culture and history involves courses including migration and culture, or intersections of race, class, and gender. Graduates of the major can gain employment in various roles, including a social worker, group counselor, probation officer, museum curator, researcher, or a public administrator. Popular employers include local, state, or government agencies; insurance companies; school districts; and museums.

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#40. Journalism

- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Underemployment rate: 39.7%
- Share with graduate degrees: 26.5%

A degree in journalism yields more than news writing as a career choice. Some top-paying jobs for journalism graduates who learn to analyze information and conclude theories through observation and interviews are corporate communication specialists, public relations officers, digital strategists, or social media planners. Though the job titles for the subject major can vary greatly, journalism students’ courses are similar, including mass media law, feature writing, and corporate communications.

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#39. Treatment therapy

- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Underemployment rate: 29.6%
- Share with graduate degrees: 46.6%

Offering non-pharmaceutical aid in a therapeutic setting is what majors do best after graduation. There are different types of significant concentrations, with some studying family therapy and others learning addiction counseling. Whether working with patients one-on-one or in a group setting, all treatment therapy majors must complete supervised clinical work and become licensed before practicing in the field.

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#38. General business

- Median wage early career: $45,000
- Median wage mid-career: $70,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.2%
- Underemployment rate: 55%
- Share with graduate degrees: 23.7%

Budget analysts, sales managers, and personal financial advisors are just a few jobs general business majors can land after graduation. The curriculum for the versatile major, which includes production and operations management, principles of economics, and rhetoric and composition, teaches graduates about baseline management skills, which include communication, organization, project management, problem-solving, and building effective workplace relationships.

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#37. International affairs

- Median wage early career: $47,000
- Median wage mid-career: $72,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.6%
- Underemployment rate: 53.9%
- Share with graduate degrees: 42.8%

Also called international relations, this college degree educates students on global issues, including politics, culture, and economics. Human rights, environmental sustainability, conflict resolution, ethics, and justice are courses students must successfully pass to graduate. With a degree, majors can become intelligence specialists, diplomats, political analysts, lobbyists, or communication specialists.

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#36. Accounting

- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000 ($25,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.4%
- Underemployment rate: 24.1%
- Share with graduate degrees: 29.6%

Managing other people’s money is what accountants do best by auditing, reporting, and budgeting based on federal tax guidelines. During tax season, most are busy assisting clients with filing income information, but accountants work year-round following financial trends for government agencies, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) can immediately raise the median wage for early-career salary up to $73,800 and reaches as high as $124,000 by mid- to end-career.

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#35. Anthropology

- Median wage early career: $33,600
- Median wage mid-career: $59,000 ($25,400 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 6%
- Underemployment rate: 54.2%
- Share with graduate degrees: 48%

Unearthing the past is not the only job of an anthropology graduate. On the contrary, the various career paths—from museum curator to corporate anthropology—show how the study of the past opens up present diverse opportunities. The American Anthropological Association reports the federal government is one of the largest employers for graduates with jobs in natural resource management and international development.

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#34. Advertising and public relations

- Median wage early career: $44,000
- Median wage mid-career: $70,000 ($26,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3%
- Underemployment rate: 46.8%
- Share with graduate degrees: 18.2%

A degree in advertising and public relations can land many graduates jobs as copywriters, content managers, event planners, sales managers, graphic designers, and digital marketing specialists. While the advertising side of the major covers corporate and personal branding, the public relations part covers working with the media. Public relation specialists can see a 7% faster job growth by 2029 over other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

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#33. Miscellaneous physical sciences

- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $76,000 ($26,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.5%
- Underemployment rate: 35.2%
- Share with graduate degrees: 56%

Unlike life sciences, the curriculum of a major in miscellaneous physical sciences is concentrated on non-living systems. Physics and chemistry are two core classes studied by graduates who have gone on to work in research departments for NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. Other graduates often become high school teachers, college professors, environmental scientists, chemists, and architectural and engineering managers.

 

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#32. General engineering

- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $86,000 ($26,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.9%
- Underemployment rate: 30.3%
- Share with graduate degrees: 36.4%

Designing, creating, and maintaining structures and machines is what students learn well when majoring in general engineering. Degree curriculum includes mathematics with computation, computer-based modeling, advanced control, and signal processing. The federal government is a large employer of general engineering graduates, with the Department of Energy hiring the most titles in 2018, with an average salary of $112,053 annually.

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#31. Mass media

- Median wage early career: $35,000
- Median wage mid-career: $62,000 ($27,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 7.3%
- Underemployment rate: 56.2%
- Share with graduate degrees: 18.2%

There are many forms of communication, and the interdisciplinary mass media major proves it. Also called mass communication, graduates with the degree work in diverse careers from radio to television or marketing and graphic design. The most popular mass media jobs to land are writer, editor, producer, and elementary and middle school teachers, while the most lucrative careers in the major remain the marketing industry, with the highest-paying average salary reported at $81,728.

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#30. Foreign language

- Median wage early career: $36,000
- Median wage mid-career: $63,000 ($27,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Underemployment rate: 47.4%
- Share with graduate degrees: 50.8%

Foreign language majors graduate to become translators, tour guides, liaison officers, field researchers, and product localization managers. But before taking on any of the job titles, majors in the study must become well versed in the specific languages. Some of the most lucrative languages to learn are Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and French; however, the major makes graduates stand out in the employment crowd either way.

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#29. Environmental studies

- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000 ($27,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.3%
- Underemployment rate: 50.2%
- Share with graduate degrees: 31.8%

Studying humanity’s relationship with the environment for survival and sustainability pushes students of the major to learn environmental law, energy matters, and urban planning. The love of nature must be accompanied by biology, economics, geology, physics, and mathematics courses. Some critical skills for graduates include strong lab and fieldwork skills, general IT knowledge, and persuasive communication expertise.

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#28. History

- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $65,000 ($27,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Underemployment rate: 54%
- Share with graduate degrees: 49.5%

Whether one decides to be a history professor or museum archivist, a successful graduate of the major should have excellent analytical, reasoning, and communication skills. It is the perfect major for graduates who desire to practice law, teach, or work for the government. Popular job titles include academic researcher and academic librarian.

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#27. Industrial engineering

- Median wage early career: $63,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000 ($27,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.7%
- Underemployment rate: 21.6%
- Share with graduate degrees: 39.6%

Job employment growth for industrial engineers is expected to grow up to 10% by 2029, with 295,800 U.S. industrial engineers employed in 2019. The workforce, versed in enacting quality control agendas, evaluating employee performance, and reviewing production schedules, must take core courses including statistics, manufacturing systems design, and production system planning. The highest percentage of industrial engineers work in transportation equipment manufacturing.

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#26. Architecture

- Median wage early career: $47,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000 ($28,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 5%
- Underemployment rate: 29.4%
- Share with graduate degrees: 39.2%

Beyond the drawing board, graduates with architecture degrees become building surveyors, town planners, structural engineers, and production designers. Though the college major is one with high early to mid-career earnings, the architecture job growth is slim and slower than all job growth averages, at 1% by 2029. Up to 17% of architects are self-employed, with most of the graduates in the major employed in architectural, engineering, and related services at 71%.

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#25. Biology

- Median wage early career: $37,000
- Median wage mid-career: $66,000 ($29,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.2%
- Underemployment rate: 46.1%
- Share with graduate degrees: 63.4%

Health communications specialist, biochemist, and pharmaceutical and medical product sales representative are just a few of the top jobs for graduates with degrees in biology. Students can also graduate and become genetic counselors or teachers. A popular job for majors is a biological technician, which has a 5% faster job growth rate than all other occupations. Research and development companies, colleges, and hospitals are top employers for biology majors who must successfully pass curriculum including ecology, physiology, and physics.

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#24. Marketing

- Median wage early career: $45,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000 ($30,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3%
- Underemployment rate: 52.1%
- Share with graduate degrees: 17.4%

Content marketers, marketing research specialists, and operation analysts are in demand due to the ability to work remotely, making the major even more attractive. Of all noted college majors with the most significant jump from early to mid-career earnings, market research analysts have the second-highest job growth of all other occupations at 18% before 2019. Skills that graduates should have to succeed in the industry include excellent public speaking, good interpersonal communication, a keen ability to follow social trends, and full content writing knowledge.

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#23. Information systems and management

- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $80,000 ($30,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.9%
- Underemployment rate: 37.1%
- Share with graduate degrees: 24.7%

Solving business and technology matters through analytical and critical thinking is what information systems and management majors do. After learning the basics of programming, database management, networks, and system analysis, many go on to work as application developers, social media consultants, or computer systems analysts. Top employers in the industry are hospitals, airports, financial institutions, and manufacturers.

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#22. Mathematics

- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $80,000 ($30,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.9%
- Underemployment rate: 27.6%
- Share with graduate degrees: 51.2%

Students with this major learn pure and applied mathematics, preparing them for jobs as statisticians, managing actuaries, or teachers. Less typical math careers include those in engineering and scientific research. The “much faster” highest job growth of 35% for statisticians before 2029 compared to all other occupations proves crunching numbers is in demand. The federal government employs up to 40% of all mathematicians.

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#21. Miscellaneous engineering

- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000 ($30,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.8%
- Underemployment rate: 30.1%
- Share with graduate degrees: 45.3%

Graduates of the major, including nuclear engineers, are mostly employed in the architectural and engineering industry. Popular employers include electronic component and product manufacturing services companies, and national security and international affairs agencies. Reading comprehension is one of the most critical skills graduates in this major must have to succeed in the field.

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#20. Construction services

- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000 ($30,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.7%
- Underemployment rate: 28.9%
- Share with graduate degrees: 10.3%

A construction services degree opens up opportunities to become a civil engineer or business administration manager. Students study development estimation, building codes, electrical and mechanical systems, and construction materials and methods. The private industry is the top employer for graduates, who also become superintendents, estimators, and project managers, with local, state, and federal governments second.

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#19. Civil engineering

- Median wage early career: $60,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000 ($30,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 1.5%
- Underemployment rate: 19.2%
- Share with graduate degrees: 38.7%

Designing and building frameworks and infrastructures is at the heart of civil engineering, an indoor and outdoor career. While surveying maps, evaluating long-term blueprints, and arranging all permit applications for bid proposals takes place in the office; soil testing, overseeing project construction, and signing off at completion happens on-site. Areas of civil engineering specialties include construction, geotechnical, structural, and transportation.

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#18. Miscellaneous technologies

- Median wage early career: $44,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000 ($31,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 6.4%
- Underemployment rate: 55.3%
- Share with graduate degrees: 18%

Strong critical thinking skills, mathematics, and logical reasoning are required for graduates with a miscellaneous technologies degree. Often hired as a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) employee, graduates with the degree find job growth and financial success as computer network architects, software developers, database administrators, and mechanical engineers.

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#17. Computer science

- Median wage early career: $65,000
- Median wage mid-career: $96,000 ($31,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 5.2%
- Underemployment rate: 22%
- Share with graduate degrees: 32.8%

Innovative operating software comes from computer science graduates, who are in high demand. As the technology industry grows daily with new smart devices, employees’ need to be well-versed in linear algebra, abstract data types, computer organization, and algorithm design. Graduates can become data scientists, software testers, web developers, network architects, database administrators, and interface designers.

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#16. Electrical engineering

- Median wage early career: $68,000
- Median wage mid-career: $100,000 ($32,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.3%
- Underemployment rate: 21.2%
- Share with graduate degrees: 46.4%

Electrical engineers design, create, and tweak radar and navigation systems, power generation equipment, and other motors and machinery, including global positioning devices (GPS) in various industries. There is a 3% job growth rate predicted in the field by 2029 for graduates who mostly work for engineering services. Top employers include telecommunication companies, semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturers, and the federal government, minus the U.S. Postal Service.

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#15. Agriculture

- Median wage early career: $38,000
- Median wage mid-career: $70,000 ($32,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.5%
- Underemployment rate: 58.7%
- Share with graduate degrees: 20.8%

A degree in agriculture yields graduates who become scientists, engineers, and workers in the farm and animal industry. To successfully raise thriving crops and livestock, graduates must be skilled in fertilization, cultivation, harvesting, and processing. The core curriculum includes introductory courses in science, math, communications, and concentrated classes depending on the type of degree. Students most often specialize in agriculture science, economics, technology and management, crops and soils, and horticulture.

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#14. Communications

- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $72,000 ($32,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.6%
- Underemployment rate: 54.1%
- Share with graduate degrees: 22.8%

There are different types of communications degrees, including journalism, mass media, advertising, and public relations. Top communications careers include market research analysts and specialists, elementary school teachers, lawyers, and sales representatives. Media and communications jobs are growing as quickly as other U.S. careers at a 4% projected growth rate by 2029.

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#13. Business analytics

- Median wage early career: $58,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000 ($32,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.9%
- Underemployment rate: 38.3%
- Share with graduate degrees: 24.7%

Before making the most accurate data-driven decisions, business analytics students learn project management, digital marketing, supply chain and operation logic, and market intelligence. Quantitative modeler, data analyst, statistician, chief technology officer, and application architect are some of the available jobs in the field. The projected 11% job growth for business and management analysts before 2029 shows the demand for the career type.

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#12. Chemistry

- Median wage early career: $42,000
- Median wage mid-career: $75,000 ($33,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4%
- Underemployment rate: 37.9%
- Share with graduate degrees: 65.3%

Top jobs for chemistry majors include forensic scientist, geochemist, toxicologist, and water chemist. Throughout their college careers, the standard curriculum for students include principles of chemistry, physics, earth surface processes, biology, calculus, ecology, and analysis of remote sensing. Material waste scientists, chemistry teachers, and pharmacologists are other popular career paths for graduates in this major.

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#11. Engineering technologies

- Median wage early career: $50,000
- Median wage mid-career: $83,000 ($33,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Underemployment rate: 40.4%
- Share with graduate degrees: 25.4%

Job opportunities in engineering technologies exist in the design, production, operations, and manufacturing industries. Management occupations have the highest employment distribution of majors with engineering technologies degrees, followed by architecture and engineering, computer and mathematics, business and finance, and sales sectors.

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#10. Mechanical engineering

- Median wage early career: $65,000
- Median wage mid-career: $100,000 ($35,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.7%
- Underemployment rate: 21.3%
- Share with graduate degrees: 41.1%

The 4% expected job growth before 2029 is considerable for mechanical engineering majors, experts in designing, building, and maintaining thermal devices. Mechanical engineers’ daily job tasks include investigating equipment for failure, analyzing test results, and overseeing manufacturing processes. While most graduates find work in the architecture and engineering sectors, many are employed in the machinery and transportation industries.

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#9. Finance

- Median wage early career: $55,000
- Median wage mid-career: $90,000 ($35,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.5%
- Underemployment rate: 37.6%
- Share with graduate degrees: 30.8%

Entry-level finance jobs include financial advisors and analysts, tax associates, and auditors. Curriculum courses include corporate finance, bonds, individual investment, monetary institutions and policy, statistics, economics, econometrics, and financial reporting. Significant major specializations include entrepreneurial and small business studies, franchising operations, investment and securities, and international finance.

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#8. Political science

- Median wage early career: $42,000
- Median wage mid-career: $78,000 ($36,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 5.2%
- Underemployment rate: 49.7%
- Share with graduate degrees: 52.6%

Jobs that could be available to political science majors after graduation include policy analyst, legislative assistant, public relations specialist, or political consultant. Top political science courses include civic engagement in American democracy, introduction to contemporary geopolitics, global diplomacy, computational social science, and international relations. Projected job growth for political scientists by 2029 is 6%, quicker than most occupations.

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#7. Aerospace engineering

- Median wage early career: $65,000
- Median wage mid-career: $102,000 ($37,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Underemployment rate: 21.7%
- Share with graduate degrees: 51.8%

Aerospace engineers do not just design aircraft. College majors also learn how to develop satellites and missiles before finding employment in aircraft and missile products and parts manufacturing. The highly concentrated math and science major focuses on aerodynamics, launch methods, flight controls, and engine capacities.

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#6. Economics

- Median wage early career: $55,000
- Median wage mid-career: $93,000 ($38,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 4.2%
- Underemployment rate: 39.5%
- Share with graduate degrees: 42.2%

Economics majors are well-versed in researching and analyzing product and service financial trends. There is a quicker job growth rate for graduates with this degree than all other occupations, at 14% before 2029, with most economists employed by the federal government. Scientific development and research services companies also hire economists who study public finance, statistics, money and banking, and government and history.

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#5. Biochemistry

- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $80,000 ($40,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 1.8%
- Underemployment rate: 35%
- Share with graduate degrees: 73%

Biochemist majors love studying cell growth, genetic patterns, and disease using physical and chemical principles. Job growth for biochemists is projected to be 4% by 2029, with some U.S. regions having the most concentrated employment, including New Jersey, California, and Massachusetts. Many biochemists work in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, scientific consulting services, or at colleges and universities.

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#4. Chemical engineering

- Median wage early career: $68,000
- Median wage mid-career: $110,000 ($42,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 3.8%
- Underemployment rate: 22.7%
- Share with graduate degrees: 48.4%

Chemical engineering majors understand and control drug, food, and product chemical properties in a laboratory setting. They also conduct research and analyze and record test results. Chemical engineers also establish safety procedures and test equipment to maintain the most efficient processes. Graduates of this major who specialize in specific methods, including oxidation, can work as process engineers.

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#3. Computer engineering

- Median wage early career: $66,000
- Median wage mid-career: $109,000 ($43,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2.5%
- Underemployment rate: 21.3%
- Share with graduate degrees: 40.6%

Learning to develop, analyze, and update computer systems is the main focus of the computer engineering major and can lead to employment as a software consultant, quality assurance engineer, and web developer. The information technology (IT) majors must have excellent customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills to work with clients to address underlying computer control networks.

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#2. Physics

- Median wage early career: $49,000
- Median wage mid-career: $95,000 ($46,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 7.7%
- Underemployment rate: 34.3%
- Share with graduate degrees: 69.1%

Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are the three top-paying states for physics majors, who are educated in statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, and multivariable calculus. Strong problem solving, mathematical skills, and knowledge in modeling and simulation are skills needed by physicists who graduate and become lab technicians, research analysts, software engineers, educators, process, software, or application engineers.

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#1. Pharmacy

- Median wage early career: $40,000
- Median wage mid-career: $105,000 ($65,000 increase in wages)
- Unemployment rate: 2%
- Underemployment rate: 25.6%
- Share with graduate degrees: 60.5%

A pharmacy degree lands all successful graduates, who are well-versed in biology and general and organic chemistry, jobs behind the counter; however, there are other career paths to take, including pharmaceutical sales representative or consultant. Top-paying positions for pharmacy majors include hospital pharmacists, who earned nearly $127,000 per year in 2016, while nuclear pharmacy specialists can earn $137,000 on average. Along with being extremely detail-oriented, pharmacy majors must have strong analytical, managerial, and communication skills.

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