The path to success: 10 degrees that guarantee high-paying progressive careers

progressive career
Elon Musk's degrees led him to a progressive career. Source: Jim Watson/AFP

In today’s rapidly changing world, pursuing a degree that leads to a progressive career is becoming increasingly important.

Choosing this path leads to continuous growth, opportunities for advancement, and the ability to adapt to evolving industry trends and technologies.

The first step to achieving this is to choose a degree that aligns with a progressive career. This will give a solid foundation that could lead to a successful future.

A degree equips you with diverse skills, fosters creativity and innovation, and emphasises lifelong learning. It opens doors to many industries and offers various pathways for career development.

There are a number of degrees across various fields that will lead to a progressive career. From business administration to computer science, nursing, digital marketing, economics, engineering and many more, you will gain the knowledge, expertise, and practical skills necessary to excel in the workforce.

The best part is that not only will these degrees ensure a successful career, but you will also secure a high-paying job.

progressive careers

Malala Yousafzai turned her life around to fight for women’s rights. Source: Yuri Cortez/AFP

Famous people with progressive careers

Many famous people have had progressive careers and have made significant contributions in their respective fields. Here are a few examples:

1. Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a renowned entrepreneur and businessman known for his progressive career in the fields of technology and transportation.

He co-founded companies like PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company, revolutionising industries like electric vehicles, space exploration, and renewable energy.

2. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is an activist and Nobel laureate known for her progressive career in advocating for girls’ education.

Despite facing adversity and surviving a targeted attack by the Taliban, she continues to fight for girls’ rights worldwide to receive an education.

3. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author and media proprietor with a progressive career that spans multiple fields.

She has been a powerful advocate for many social causes and has used her platform to promote education, women’s empowerment, and positive change.

Winfrey’s influence and success have made her one of the most influential figures in the entertainment industry.

While all these famous people come from different fields, they share similarities in leading a progressive career.

progressive career

A degree in engineering opens the doors to a high-paying progressive career. Source: Thomas Kienzle/AFP

10 degrees that lead to progressive careers

1. Bachelor of Engineering

Engineering is a field that is in high demand across various industries. It offers a wide range of career paths and specialisations. 

Depending on your interests and skills, you can pursue careers in civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, and more. 

The work of an engineer involves creating and advancing structures, machines, apparatus, and manufacturing methods. 

The demand for engineers is expected to continue growing, providing abundant job opportunities and career stability.

If you are considering an engineering degree, here are the top universities in the US, UK and Australia:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • Monash University, Australia

2. Bachelor of Marketing

Marketing is a popular choice for students who have a passion for advertising, social media and graphic design. 

Having a marketing degree opens the door to many career opportunities.

Choosing to become a marketing manager will secure one of the highest paying jobs, with an annual salary reaching up to 135,030 US dollars.

Individuals with a marketing degree can find employment in almost any industry, as nearly every business, organisation, and nonprofit worldwide need a marketing team.

Those with a marketing degree can explore various job roles, including social media manager, marketing executive, sales representative, and marketing research analyst.

If you are considering a marketing degree, here are the top universities in the US, UK and Australia:

  • University of Pennsylvania, US
  • Lancaster University, UK
  • University of Melbourne, Australia

3. Bachelor of Data Science

Speculations about the potential replacement of data analysts by AI systems like Bard or ChatGPT have been circulating since November 2022.

While generative AI may be able to replicate tasks such as data cleaning and preprocessing, companies will still require human expertise in areas like data analysis, model development and interpretation, and decision-making.

With numerous job opportunities in the field, pursuing a degree in data science is highly advantageous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth for data scientists is projected to increase by 35.8% by 2031, resulting in 40,500 job openings.

Data scientists are some of the highest paid in the US, with an average annual salary of US$129,753.

If you are considering a degree in data science, here are some top universities to consider.

  • University of Warwick, UK
  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • University of California, US

4. Bachelor of Computer Science

This degree is a versatile choice that opens the doors to many career opportunities.

A degree in this field provides sought-after technical skills and knowledge in programming, software development and problem-solving.

This leads to many career paths in fields such as software engineering, data analysis, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence, all of which are thriving in the digital era.

Graduates with this qualification are highly sought after, as nearly every company relies on computers to run their operations. Businesses require computer specialists who can troubleshoot and resolve tech-related issues.

In the US, the 2021 median salary for a data scientist is US$100,910,

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of computer science professionals is expected to experience rapid growth of 15% by 2031.

Consider pursuing your computer science education at one of these universities:

  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
progressive career

Nursing is one of the highest-paid jobs in the world. Source: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

5. Bachelor of Nursing

The healthcare industry is consistently in high demand, and a nursing career offers numerous opportunities for professional growth and a healthy income.

Nursing is considered one of the highest-paid professions globally, with an average annual salary of around US$93,632.

Nursing is a popular field of study among students because it allows them to apply their skills immediately after graduation.

With a nursing degree, you will qualify for various roles such as a clinical nurse specialist, community nurse, child care specialist, private nurse, or social worker.

Job security is generally not a concern in this field. The career outlook for registered nurses is highly promising, with the demand projected to grow by 46% in the US

If you are considering pursuing a nursing education, here are some of the top universities in the world for this field:

  • University of Pennsylvania, US
  • King’s College London, UK
  • Monash University Clayton, Australia

6. Bachelor of Information Technology

According to the BLS, employment in the information technology sector is projected to grow by 15% by 2031, resulting in approximately 682,800 job openings.

A degree in information technology equips you with the skills necessary for roles such as software developer, cybersecurity expert, IT consultant, business analyst, and many other highly sought-after positions in the field.

As an IT major, you will enhance your abilities in designing, implementing, and maintaining various systems while also gaining knowledge in information security.

Those working as information technology specialists in the US can earn up to US$45,760 annually.

Embark on your career in this field by enrolling in renowned universities known for their exceptional information technology programmes.

  • University of Cambridge, US
  • Monash University Clayton, Australia
  • Carnegie Mellon University, US

7. Bachelor of Finance

Graduates with a degree in finance will not only know how to make money but also have an insight into how to grow it and make it work for them. You would essentially have the cheat sheet for how to become rich.

This degree opens doors to careers in investment banking, corporate finance, financial planning, or consulting — traditionally known for offering graduates some of the highest salaries.

On average, you will earn up to US$74,159 annually as a financial analyst in the US.

The best part? BLS predicts that jobs in the sector are projected to grow 9% from 2021 to 2031.

As a graduate in this field, you will be able to find employment in many sectors, especially the banking and insurance industry. 

Get a degree in finance from some of the top universities in the world to secure a successful career. Here are the top universities for a degree in economics and finance:

  • London School of Economics, UK
  • The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Harvard University, US

8. Bachelor of Economics

If you have an interest in statistics, accounting, and understanding the processes of producing, distributing, and consuming goods, economics is a suitable field for you.

Economics is a versatile field that provides you with a deep understanding of how markets, industries, and economies function. 

This knowledge is highly valued in various sectors, including finance, consulting, government, research, and academia. 

Economics develops your analytical and critical thinking abilities. 

You learn to analyse complex data, evaluate economic trends, and make informed decisions based on quantitative and qualitative analysis. 

These skills are highly transferable and sought after by employers in many industries.

The demand for individuals with economic knowledge and skills remains strong. Organisations need economists to analyse market trends, conduct economic impact assessments, provide financial forecasts, and inform policy decisions.

Those who follow this path and become financial managers can anticipate a median base salary of approximately US$131,710.

Consider these top universities to pursue a degree in economics:

  • Harvard University, US
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US
  • Stanford University, US
progressive career

A degree in digital marketing can secure you a progressive career. Source: Philippe Huguen/AFP

9. Bachelor in Digital Marketing

The demand for digital marketing professionals has soared, making it one of the top ten most sought-after job roles, with over 860,000 job openings.

The digital marketing industry is experiencing rapid growth and is expected to continue expanding in the coming years. As more businesses recognise the importance of digital marketing in reaching their target audiences, there is a high demand for skilled professionals in this field.

The field of digital marketing is constantly evolving, requiring professionals to stay updated with the latest tools and techniques. Pursuing a degree in digital marketing can equip you with a comprehensive skill set that includes graphic design, content development, and social media strategy to assist businesses.

In the US, working in the digital marketing sector can earn you an annual salary of up to $60,251.

If you’re interested, consider exploring these esteemed universities worldwide that offer exceptional digital marketing programs:

  • University of Southampton, UK
  • La Trobe University, Australia
  • Arizona State University, US

10. Bachelor of Business

Opting for a business degree is a popular choice among students, given its potential to pave the way for a progressive career. This versatile degree offers a comprehensive education covering various disciplines such as finance, advertising, marketing, economics and the art of negotiation.

With a business degree, you will possess the skills and knowledge to thrive in almost any industry.

The job market for business graduates is promising, as it is projected to witness the creation of approximately 56,500 new positions by 2031.

Professionals in this field earn an average annual salary of USD$82,805.

To embark on your journey towards a successful business career, consider pursuing a degree at these reputable universities that offer comprehensive business programmes:

  • University of Oxford, UK 
  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Harvard University, US