Special Report

The Highest and Lowest Paying College Majors in America

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20. Aerospace engineering
> Avg. annual earnings: $84,368
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%
> Total workforce: 101,938

Aerospace engineers work to create aircraft, spaceships, and national defense systems — jobs that require a great degree of specialization and expertise. Nearly 80% of those with aerospace engineering bachelor’s degrees go on to earn their master’s as well. Those with higher levels of education are typically paid higher salaries, and the average salary among those with an aerospace engineering degree is $84,368.

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19. Metallurgical engineering
> Avg. annual earnings: $84,700
> Unemployment rate: 5.1%
> Total workforce: 17,408

Metallurgical engineers are one of 11 types of engineers ranked among the top 25 highest paid college majors. Metallurgical engineers work with different metals to design and fabricate a wide variety of items including airplane wings, golf clubs, or computer chips. These professionals tend to be well compensated, but employment in the industry is projected to grow by just 2% over the next decade, slower than the projected 7% employment growth across all industries. Metallurgical engineering is closely tied to manufacturing, which is not expected to be a high growth industry in the future.

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18. Electrical engineering
> Avg. annual earnings: $85,371
> Unemployment rate: 2.9%
> Total workforce: 1,002,623

Electrical engineers work on motors, navigation, portable electronics, communications and broadcast systems, and power generation equipment. As Americans become more reliant on electronics, electrical engineers will continue to be in demand and well compensated. There are more than 1 million Americans with an electrical engineering degree in the U.S. workforce, and fewer than 3% of them are unemployed.

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17. Computer science
> Avg. annual earnings: $85,398
> Unemployment rate: 3.1%
> Total workforce: 1,224,872

Computer scientists have some of the brightest job prospects of any sector. Many companies have reported having a difficult time finding skilled computer scientists, even though more than 1.2 million Americans in the job market have a computer science degree. Employment in the industry is projected to grow 19% in the coming years, much faster than overall employment growth. With demand for computer scientists growing, the industry’s salaries will likely remain relatively high.

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16. Mathematics and computer science
> Avg. annual earnings: $85,633
> Unemployment rate: 2.4%
> Total workforce: 15,821

The mathematics and computer science degree focuses on the relationship between computing and mathematical problem solving. There are relatively few Americans in the workforce with mathematics and computer science degrees, but that is projected to change. As businesses will need more people with problem solving and computer skills, employment of mathematicians and computer scientists is projected to increase at least twice as fast as overall employment from 2016 to 2026. As demand for these workers continues to increase, the pay will likely remain relatively high as well.

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