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.

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 $1,334 — that’s $525 more a week than those with a high school diploma alone at $809.

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.

Starting salary ranges by category


Engineering majors Starting salary
Biomedical engineering $66,125
Environmental engineering $66,442
Civil management $66,732
Industrial/Manufacturing engineering $68,963
Materials Engineering/Science $71,382
Nuclear engineering $72,000
Mechanical engineering $72,825
Engineering technology $72,933
Chemical engineering $74,440
Electrical engineering $75,558
Systems engineering $75,999
Computer engineering $76,029
Aerospace/Aeronautical engineering $77,882
Software engineering $78,482
Petroleum engineering $85,260
Humanities majors Starting salary
Area and gender studies $48,700
Foreign language and literature $48,700
Visual and performing arts $48,700
History $49,332
Philosophy $51,911
Liberal arts/general studies $52,089
English language and literature $52,179
Social science majors Starting salary
Sociology $52,922
Political science/international relations $57,170
Psychology $62,294
Economics $64,193
Mathematics and science majors Starting salary
Biology and biological sciences $58,701
Geology and geological sciences $62,622
Environmental science $63,960
Chemistry $66,156
Mathematics and statistics $68,572
Physics $71,467
Business majors Starting salary
Human resources $57,357
International business $57,841
Sales $59,452
Business administration and management $59,514
Marketing $59,652
Accounting $59,884
Finance $60,776
Logistics and supply chain $61,798
Actuarial science $65,543
Management information systems $66,117

*Data above shows mean salaries.

Source: NACE Salary Survey, Winter 2022

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