Ten Lucrative Degree Subjects
Look at any list of reasons why people go to university, and you’ll see that making more money is never too far from the top. And after all the time and money that you invest in university, perhaps it’s fair to want to get something back afterwards.
You’re making a good start by getting a degree in the first place. A study by the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that bachelor’s degree holders in the US earned US$2,268,000 over their lifetime, while those with only a high school diploma earned US$1,304,000. Postgraduate degrees increase the premium even more.
But then, as one of the report’s authors, Dr Anthony P. Carnevale, reminds us, “It’s all down to what you take. That’s the rule in postsecondary education.” So, without further ado, here’s a list of ten lucrative degree subjects.
FAME (finance, accounting, management and economics) subjects are largely concerned with money – and they can also help you rake it in. For accountancy graduates, a number of high earning options are available. In Hong Kong, for example, an internal auditor working in the financial services industry would be looking at an annual salary of US$39,000-US$77,000, while a finance director in the corporate sector could earn US$103,000-US$180,500. Learn more >
You got to spend money to make money, so it’s logical that a degree in the art of making money could be a quick route to any number of high earning careers. And you can start doing so from the very beginning. A UK investment banker’s starting salary is a whooping US$54,300, while a retail or commercial banker starts on US$44,250. Get further on, and the figures can get silly… More >
Research by Georgetown University has found that experienced graduates of chemical engineering earn, on average, US$94,000, while a graduate degree holder can earn an impressive US$101,000. Unsurprisingly, working in the field of petroleum is particularly lucrative. Average US salaries in this industry are US$138,980, while in Australia they range from US$141,000-179,000. More >
It seems safe to say that computer science graduates will be in high demand for the foreseeable future, across a wide range of industries and functions. Coupled with the complex and demanding nature of these roles, this means that remuneration is handsome. A new graduate can expect to earn US$50,000, rising to US$81,000 for those with experience or to US$96,000 for those with a graduate degree. More >
Wherever you go in the world, people tend to care about their teeth – and they tend to be willing to pay for it too! Ergo, dentists are mainstays of best-paid profession lists across the world. In the US dentists and orthodontists earn US$161,750-$204,670 on average, while in the UK, a publically employed dentist performing a range of extra services could potentially earn – get this – over US$300,000!
Engineering and management are both pretty lucrative professions, so imagine what would happen if you combined the two? Yep, that’s right: massive salaries. An engineering manager in Australia stands to earn in the region of US$163,000-217,500. In Canada the same role will earn you US$113,000, while in the US the figure is US$116,738. More >
Law is of course, one of the most prestigious degrees out there, and with prestige comes high earnings. Wherever you go in the world, solicitors, barristers and judges are among the highest earners. A company lawyer in the UK, for instance, stands to earn over US$95,000 a year, while a judge in Canada earns US$178,000. More >
No list of lucrative degrees would be complete without medicine. Whether you choose to be a general practitioner, a surgeon or a consultant, those long hard years in medical school certainly do pay for themselves…eventually. They certainly do in Australia, where a GP stands to earn between US$166,000 and US$204,000. Be warned though, it is a lot of hard work, the hours are long and it is extremely competitive and often expensive. More >
The art of helping people to make money by making their products or services appealing is big business, so for marketing graduates with talent and ambition, the sky is the limit. Work your way up to a marketing director role in the UK, for example, and you would earn US$106,000 on average. It’s a similar story in the US, where the average salary for a marketing manager is US$126,190.
Completing our trio of high earnings health professions is pharmacy. Like the medicine and dentistry the training and work is long and hard, but with pharmacists’ average earnings standing at US$62,000 in France and a huge US$112,160 in the US, it may just be worth the effort. More >
Statistics Canada (Canada)
Office of National Statistics (UK)
The Association of Graduate Recruiters (UK)
NHS Information Centre (UK)
Bureau of Labor Statistics (US)
Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce (US)
This article was originally published in February 2013 . It was last updated in September 2023