3 of the best degrees for a high starting salary

high paying jobs
Medical graduates are among those that earn high salaries after completing their programmes. Source: Alexis Huguet/AFP

It’s true: the degree you study for at uni matters. Choosing the right one can make a huge impact in expanding your line of thinking and giving you the skills and knowledge to succeed in a certain field or profession. Most of the time, the degree you undertake plays a huge role in landing you high paying jobs after graduation. 

Studies support this statement, too. For example, college-educated workers in the US tend to enjoy a salary that’s on average 84% higher than those with a high school diploma. The same study shows that recent bachelor’s degree graduates in 2021 earned around USD $52,000, while high school diploma holders only earned approximately $30,000. 

Still, there’s no denying that the type of degree you earn impacts your chances of scoring a high paying job, too. LinkedIn looked into the education and salary information of members in the US to determine how different fields of study influenced their earning potential. 

Their findings? Graduates who demonstrate key soft skills like communication, organisation and teamwork tend to stand out, but when it comes to entry level roles, certain degree holders would usually secure high paying jobs over others. This means that if you want to start earning a higher salary from the get-go, you should target certain fields of study at university level. 

Here’s a run-down of the degrees that will help you land high paying jobs: 

What graduates should study for high paying jobs 

Staying on top of technological developments will help students land high paying jobs after graduation. Source: Clement Mahoudeau/AFP

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

There’s no doubt that technology is playing a vital role in the development and progression of society today. This is all the more apparent in the workplace. At the moment, more than half of US workers rely on varying technology to complete their tasks, where collaborative tools increase operational efficiency by 131%. 

The future of work only promises an increase of this reliance. Sources predict that digital transformation will reach an estimated $2.39 trillion by 2024. More than that, technology will likely displace 85 million jobs globally by 2025. 

This makes it all the more crucial for graduates to stay on top of the field in entering the workforce. Degrees in electrical engineering and computer science are well-placed to address the issues and developments of technology across a wide range of fields as we know it — making it likely for you to be highly employable from the moment you graduate. 

On average, computer science majors tend to earn around $89,000 a year

Petroleum Engineering

There’s no denying that the petroleum industry has changed the world as we know it. Petroleum acts as the bulk of our energy and fuel requirements and accounts for 90% of the world’s transport capabilities. 

However, much of this comes at a heavy cost to our environment. The extraction and transportation of petroleum products has contributed to significant amounts of air pollution, particularly in carbon dioxide emissions. 

In this, the role of petroleum engineers is more important than ever. Today’s petroleum engineers need to balance the extraction and use of the fossil fuel vital to our society whilst searching for practices that can solve the world’s climate change issues. Because of this, an education in petroleum engineering will not only promise high paying jobs, but those that will make a significant impact on the development of our society, as well. 

Petroleum engineer graduates earn around $110,000 per year

Medicine is a difficult field of study, but ultimately leads to a high-paying and rewarding career. Source: Alexis Huguet/AFP


Another area of study that naturally brings about high paying jobs is that of medicine. There are many reasons behind why studying medicine is important to our society: addressing the concerns of our ageing society, developing solutions and cures for pressing illnesses, and meeting demands for emerging outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, that shouldn’t distract from the difficulty of pursuing such a field of study. Most medical students end up graduating, but not all do — leading to a 82 to 84% rate of four-year students completing their programmes. 

Still, the benefits of pursuing medicine points to high paying jobs and, most importantly, a meaningful career. Once completing their studies, medical graduates tend to earn around $200,000 a year — showing that persistence, in this regard, tends to pay off.