Kiplinger

25 Best College Majors for a Lucrative Career

College is often considered the surest path to a lucrative career. After all, while you can find some promising jobs without a college degree, the majority of the best jobs for the future require you to have at least a bachelor's degree just to get your foot in the door. And this is especially true for those jobs with the biggest paychecks. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a worker with a bachelor's degree typically earns 80% more than someone with just a high school diploma.

But not all college degrees are created equal. To determine which majors typically come with the best hiring prospects and pay, we studied the data for 102 popular college majors. We looked for courses of study that tend to lead to fat paychecks--both right out of school and further along your career path. We also sought out majors that are in high demand based on recent online job postings as well as long-term growth expectations for related occupations. Plus, we factored in the percentage of workers with given degrees who feel their jobs have a positive impact on the world because having a sense of purpose can be just as important as having a good payday.

The top of our rankings present interested scholars with the best shots at success and satisfaction in the workplace, complete with generous incomes and an abundance of job opportunities. Check out the best college majors for a lucrative career. (Spoiler alert: STEM majors--that is, fields in science, technology, engineering and math--dominate our rankings.)

25. Finance

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Starting salary: $56,000 (Median for all majors: $45,400)

Mid-career salary: $96,500 (Median for all majors: $78,300)

Annual online job postings: 1.3 million (Median for all majors: 103,151)

At Kiplinger, we totally get that money matters can be complex, and many of us--especially the growing number of people rapidly approaching retirement age--need help understanding and managing them. No wonder workers with financial knowledge are in such high demand. New regulations, more products and increasingly complex investment portfolios don't hurt either. And that need translates into plenty of opportunities and generous pay for workers in this field. Financial analysts, who evaluate investment opportunities for businesses, earn a median salary of $83,824 a year and are expecting 11.0% job growth over the next decade. Personal financial advisers, who are expected to add 12.0% more positions by 2027, typically earn about $86,715 a year.

Finance isn't strictly considered a STEM field, but you can still expect to work with numbers a great deal. High school students interested in finance can prepare for this major by studying statistics and calculus. In college, you'll add to your schedule accounting, financial markets and investing, as well as microeconomics, macroeconomics and economic theory. If you pursue a bachelor of arts degree in this field, you likely have to take liberal arts and foreign language classes, too.

24. Actuarial Science

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Starting salary: $62,700

Mid-career salary: $123,500

Annual online job postings: 21,252

You'll find little risk in pursuing an actuarial career. These).

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