Starting Salaries by Major

A young woman smiles back at the camera as she walks on a college campus.

Choosing a college major can be the first step toward a career you love. Check out our list of average starting salaries for different career fields.

Using your skills, following your passion, and earning a paycheck in a career you love are all part of growing up and learning to “adult.” What’s the right career for you? Picking a specific college major is one way to begin to explore your interests, cultivate passions, and find direction on your way to doing what you love in your working life after college.

About 62% of 2021 high school graduates enrolled in college, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

And while higher education can come with significant costs, the reward is a greater chance of getting and keeping a job in the long term, according to the U.S. Department of Education. What’s more, the BLS reports that a worker with a bachelor’s degree of any kind earns a median weekly income of about $1,248; the median weekly income for Americans with a high school diploma alone is $746.

With that kind of incentive, you may feel a little more energy as you head to those 8 a.m. classes and pull all-nighters during finals week.

As you’re mapping your future and choosing a field of study, you’re probably more than mildly curious about the differences in salaries by major. PayScale is a good resource for finding jobs and viewing potential salary ranges — helping you discover your earning potential.

Remember: Many factors affect what you’ll ultimately earn, including your region of the country, which company hires you, and overall conditions in the economy.

Illustrated depiction of average starting salaries by field for employees with bachelor's degrees. Details in image: Marketing, $52,988; Business, $54,019; Finance, $55,609; Humanities, $56,251; Technology, $59,642; Health, $66,440

Engineering majors Salary
Survey engineering $32,178
Engineering technology $55,300
Geospatial science and technology $56,003
Construction management $57,060
Environmental management $57,336
Civil engineering $58,190
Biomedical engineering $61,920
Nuclear engineering $62,201
Mechanical engineering $63,055
Meterials science/engineering $67,303
Chemical engineering $67,527
Geological and mining engineering $69,879
Software engineering $71,100
Computer engineering $73,400
Aerospace/aeronautical engineering $73,400
Systems engineering $74,000
Petroleum engineering $110,000
Humanities majors Salary
Liberal arts $42,500
Performing arts $42,900
Gender studies $43,100
English language and literature $43,900
History $45,300
Foreign languages $47,800
Philosophy $48,700
Social science majors Salary
Social work $36,600
Psychology $42,000
Sociology $43,700
Political science $47,900
Economics $58,200
Mathematics and science majors Salary
Biology $44,500
Environmental science $46,500
Geology $48,200
Chemistry $49,200
Mathematics and statistics $59,800
Physics $62,300
Construction science $64,000
Business majors Salary
Small-business management $43,900
Business communication $47,600
Agribusiness $48,000
Business administration $49,700
International business $52,100
Business and economics $56,800

Source: NACE Salary Survey, Winter 2019

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