Highest Starting Salaries for College Majors

Highest Starting Salaries for College Majors

Have you started thinking about graduation yet? Have you set your sights on landing your first job—and earning a nice salary? What you majored in to earn your bachelor’s degree has a huge impact on how much money you’ll make. So, what are the best college majors for earning the most money right out of the gate?

We took the average starting salaries of many prominent college majors from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Winter 2021 Salary Survey Report and narrowed it down to the top that lead to well-paying jobs. The wages were gathered after NACE surveyed its members from September to November 2020. They do not include overtime, bonuses, or other benefits.

STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math) came out on top, as anticipated. However, keep in mind that salaries vary depending on your level of experience, specialization, and location in the world. A civil engineer salary in California, is 11% higher than the national median; a computer scientist salary in Missouri, is 1% higher than the national median; and an elementary school teacher salary in Arkansas, is 11% lower.

Read on to find out which popular majors will lead to high-paying jobs right away.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

If you enjoy expanding products, you’ll be pleased to learn that this industry has been included on the list. The average starting salary of $54,857 represents a 2.5 percent increase over the $53,504 starting salary in 2020. If you choose a career in education, landscape design, or crop consulting, all of your hard work in the lab, fields, and on the farm will pay off.

Job openings in agriculture and natural resources can be found here


Engineers are projected to start their careers with the highest salary of the lot, at $71,088—1.6 percent higher than the salary forecast for 2020, which is $69,961. You still have a thriving work market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architecture and engineering jobs are projected to rise at a rate of 3% over the next decade, which is about average. Renewable energy, oil and gas, infrastructure reconstruction, and robotics are among the most in-demand positions for engineering majors, according to the BLS.

Find Engineering jobs here.

Math and Sciences

So you went to college and majored in social sciences. What are your plans for the future? If you’re looking for work in the public or private sector, the job market is your oyster. A social science degree is often used to work as a government economist, data analyst, or even a salesperson. In the first year, you should expect to earn $59,919, up 4.3 percent from $57,425 in 2020.

Find Math and social sciences Jobs here

Computer Science

When it comes to the sectors with the highest starting salaries, technology is a big player. You computer science graduates, who spent your undergraduate careers learning about programming, data structures, and operating systems, are right behind your engineering peers. With an estimated wage forecast of $72,173 the first year out of college, a 7.1 percent rise from the average starting salary of $67,411 in 2020, the past four years are about to pay off.

Find computer science jobs here.

Highest Starting Salaries for College Majors


Business graduates should expect to earn $58,869 as a starting salary, up 1.6 percent from $57,939 in 2020. Globalization, a growing economy, and technological advancements are all driving up demand for business professionals including management consultants, market experts, purchasers, and human resources specialists. Business and financial jobs are projected to rise at a faster-than-average rate of 5% over the next decade.

Find a career in the business here


Your communications degree will help you earn an average starting salary of $58,174, up 3% from $56,484 in 2020, whether you go into public relations, blogging, video editing, or translating. With ten years of experience under your belt, you might be looking at a six-figure salary.

Job opportunities in communications can be found here

Social Sciences

Graduating with a liberal arts degree, such as a humanities degree, used to imply that you will have a harder time finding full-time employment than your STEM-studying peers. That is not the case. Humanities majors’ starting salaries have increased by 11% to $59,500, compared to a starting salary of $53,617 in 2020. It’s the most significant rise among the majors. Many recruiters are looking for soft skills (critical thinking, innovation, and leadership) that you’ve developed over the last four years.

Teachers, writers, and sales representatives are all common positions for humanities majors

Take The Job Search to the Next Level

Congratulations on your achievement! You’re about to start a new job and begin a promising career. However, deciding which jobs to seek is just half the fight. You must get in front of hiring managers for your applications. Could you use a little assistance getting started? If you sign up for our email newsletter, job updates will be sent directly to your inbox, saving you time searching through job postings. You’ve worked hard for four years, and now it’s time to reap the benefits with a fantastic new career that will place you ahead of the pack.

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