Your major, your earning potential

Do you know what kind of paycheck you’ll get at your first job? Take a look at average starting salaries.

Earning a college degree has become a natural next step after college, with nearly 70% of 2016 high school graduates enrolled in college this year. Now more than ever, it’s for good reason: Having a college degree is an investment in your future earning potential. According to the Economic Policy Institute, on average college grads earned 56% more than high school grads in 2015. That was up from 51% in 1999 — the largest such gap in EPI’s figures, dating back to 1973.

But what kind of earnings does your specific major net? Or, if you’re still picking a major, which field of study might increase your chances of a higher salary post-tassel turn? Here’s a look at the average starting salaries of 34 majors, according to National Association of Colleges and Employers. Keep in mind these are averages: Salaries fluctuate greatly according to where you live, and other factors.

Major Average starting salary
Engineering  Chemical engineering $68,445
Computer engineering $68,191
Biomedical engineering $67,250
Materials engineering/science $66,970
Electrical engineering $66,920
Software engineering $66,847
Systems engineering $66,224
Mechanical engineering $65,557
Aerospace/aeronautical $64,967
Industrial/manufacturing engineering $64,280


Humanities Liberal arts/ general studies $51,100
English language and literature $50,125
Visual and performing arts $48,714
History $47,500
Foreign language and literature $47,000
Philosophy $47,000


Math & Science Physics $64,438
Mathematics/statistics $60,153
Biology/biological sciences $59,600
Environmental science $58,404
Chemistry $57,500


Business Management information systems $59,642
Actuarial science $56,114
Economics $55,965
Logistics/supply chain $55,694
Finance $55,609
Accounting $54,838
International business $54,446
Business administration/management $54,019
Marketing $52,988
Human resources $52,313
Sales $52,114
Hospitality management $48,607

No matter what you earn, when you get that first paycheck, set up direct deposit.

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