College majors that lead to top-paying jobs

Getting ready to send your child off to college or heading there yourself? Besides the immediate thought of how much fun college can be, it’s important to start thinking early about what to major in. Salary is one factor often overlooked when it comes to choosing the right career path.

To help your decision making, find out what the six highest-paying college majors are. Spoiler alert: Five out of the six are related to engineering!

1. Petroleum engineering

Petroleum. You know the black liquid that runs the world? Well, petroleum engineers develop methods for extracting that oil (and gas) from deposits below the Earth’s surface. College graduates who learn how to find and transport oil are some of the highest paid in the workforce. The downside of working in the industry is that job security is impacted heavily by the volatility of the oil market. Petroleum engineering majors should be ready to study tons of math, geology, and thermodynamics.

2. Management information systems

The study of management information systems examines people and technology (not by judging their Facebook feeds) by using data. Graduates of this major use data science and data analytics to help increase the value and profits of a company. Having a targeted degree in this field can often give graduates a competitive advantage in the job market.

3. Metallurgical engineering

Metallurgical engineers transform metals into products that are useful for today’s society, and we're not talking about gold chains; we're talking about high-temperature gas turbines. They learn to design and study the properties of metal parts and think of new ways to minimize waste and maximize efficiency. Many students who receive this degree become mining or materials engineers. A master’s degree is often prefered among employers, so be ready for the long haul.

4. Marine engineering

Marine engineers design, build, and maintain ships, submarines, sailboats, and other sea-based equipment. They focus mostly on the internal systems of these ships, which includes everything from steering to refrigeration. Studies include calculus, physics, and design. Many students spend time at sea where they gain hands-on experience. Sign me up if it means a semester at sea!

5. Computer systems engineering

You know all of those amazing apps on your phone? Well, many started in the brain of a computer systems engineer. They combine the knowledge of computer science and engineering to develop and evaluate software, including personal computers and apps. Their goal is to create improvements on current equipment and programs. Studies include design and computer architecture. Many students continue through toward a graduate’s degree.

6. Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineers are the experts who design, develop, and test a wide variety of machines (robots?). They also put processes in place to create these machines. They often work with turbines, generators, and yes folks even robots. Studies include physics, math, and materials sciences.

Show me the money!

Disclaimer: Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy houses, cars, and other toys that can make a person very happy! In all seriousness, when you or your child is considering a major, choose a career that will lead to both happiness and financial success! Before you go wasting all your new salary, learn the 10 things every grad needs to know about money.

Curious about salary ranges? Check out all the cool info on how much different jobs earn at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.