The best degrees to study for a high-paying job

types of degrees
These degrees have been proven to help generate high starting salaries among their graduates. Source: Spencer Platt/AFP

What you study can determine what you are qualified for, the type of jobs you’ll land in the future, and your starting salary level. While it’s true that you can build up to a high salary, there’s no denying that the earlier you start earning the big bucks, the better prepared you will be to achieve the lifestyle you are aiming for. 

Of course, jobs with high starting salaries don’t come easy. Oftentimes, you will have to put up with long working hours, sleepless nights, and gruelling office culture. In fact, the world’s highest paying industries are notorious for causing burnout and intense levels of stress among their employees. Survive these and your dream salary could be yours.

Before all of that, you’ll have to first secure a degree that will help you get your foot in the door. Be warned, though: some degrees will open you up to more avenues, while others may lock you in a specific field that you have to be ready to commit to. Either way, be very careful in choosing the right degree for you and the future you want for yourself. 

That being said, there’s no harm in doing some research into the types of degrees that will land you the highest paying jobs, according to Here are some of our top picks: 

Businessmen and economists tend to earn high starting salaries upon graduation. Source: Angela Weiss/AFP

4 best types of degrees to make money


This is perhaps the most obvious money-making degree there is, and it has everything to do with how versatile it is. In a business degree, you’ll study a broad range of topics: macro and microeconomics, basic finance, marketing, and more. 

Apart from that, you should expect to specialise in certain subjects depending on the degree you choose. For example, a business degree with a more globally-focused curriculum may give you better insight into international trade and tariffs. Others that are more management-focused may give you better training in project management. 

In general, business degree holders start off with a salary of US$47,850 per year.


Economics is next on the best types of degrees to make money. Similar to business, this is a versatile degree that is applicable in many types of fields — which can help open many doors for your future career. 

As an economist, you will analyse financial information to forecast trends as well as understand consumer behaviour — which is exactly what you will be learning to do in your degree. On top of this, you will learn about international trade, individual decision-making, economic policy, and more. 

An economist’s base median salary in the US is US$52,000 per year.

Biomedical engineers are integral to the development of healthcare and medicine. Source: Alfredo Estrella/AFP

Biomedical engineering

Technology is an important facet of medicine and healthcare today — and biomedical engineering is at the forefront of this. Here, students learn to pair biology with engineering to design medical devices and therapies. Most of the time, this will require working in teams with other students to come up with ideas and solutions to problems that arise. 

As a biomedical engineering student, you can expect to be grounded in introductory mathematics, biology, engineering, chemistry and physics. Other areas you can specialise in include biomechanics, biomolecular engineering, systems and synthetic biology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and more.

On average, biomedical engineers earn around US$52,814 per year.


The types of degrees that centre around healthcare and medicine will usually generate high salaries — and nursing is no different. In this degree, you will learn to care for patients recovering from illness or injury whilst being supervised by a doctor. 

During your course of study, you will learn human anatomy, biology, and disease. Outside of this, you can take extra courses in chemistry, physiology and nutrition, depending on what you would like to specialise in. At the end of your studies, you’ll join a profession that is experiencing a consistent, average growth — opening up more available positions to you. 

As a nurse, you can expect to earn around US$58,928 per year.