Special Report

The 30 Best College Majors for a Successful Career

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The high school class of 2022 has graduated, and many of them will be going to college this fall. According to USA Facts, 66.2% of high school graduates will enroll in college within a year of graduating, but that is down from 70.1% in 2009. Further, according to the Strada Education Network, an Indianapolis education nonprofit, more than 1 million fewer students enrolled in college this spring compared with the same period in 2020, continuing a pattern of decline.

Those attending college will select a field of study they hope will lead to a rewarding career. 

In a post-pandemic world, top pay is always welcome, and bachelor’s degree holders earn about 65% more than workers with just a high school diploma.​ But salary is not the only consideration. Students may also weigh job security, turnover, or predicted job availability in their chosen fields. 

To identify the 30 best college majors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Scholaroo’s Best College Majors in 2022. Scholaroo created an index consisting of data on job availability and salary (starting median salary, median income after 10 years, projected job availability in 2028, annual job openings), job stability (unemployment rate, job openings per graduate, yearly turnover, change in degrees awarded from 2019 to 2020), and career cost (median in-state public tuition and out-of-state private tuition, change in median in-state public tuition and  out-of-state private tuition). 

Of the 30 best college majors, one-third are engineering fields. Petroleum and computer engineering are two of the top three college majors based on Scholaroo’s index. The five majors with the highest median starting salary are all engineering degrees – aerospace, chemical, and nuclear engineering round top five for starting salary. (These are the easiest colleges to get into with the smartest applicants.)

Petroleum engineering commands the highest median salary after 10 years of experience, along with computer and information sciences, pharmacology and toxicology, chemical engineering, and actuarial science. (These are cities where a college education pays off the most.)

Job stability is another factor when choosing a college major, and astronomy and astrophysics and genetics offer that. Majors with low unemployment rate include actuarial science, veterinary science, atmospheric sciences and meteorology, kinesiology and exercise science, and physical therapy.

The major with the lowest career cost is criminal justice and corrections, but the major ranks 74th overall. Among the 30 best majors, operations management and supervision, at No. 18,  has the lowest career cost, followed by statistics (No. 17) and registered nursing (No. 4).

Click here to see the most secure college majors

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30. Agricultural Engineering
> Overall score: 63.17
> Job availability and salary rank: #34 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #52 highest
> Career cost rank: #16 highest

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29. Architectural Engineering
> Overall score: 63.70
> Job availability and salary rank: #58 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #4 highest
> Career cost rank: #10 highest

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28. International Business
> Overall score: 63.93
> Job availability and salary rank: #15 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #66 highest
> Career cost rank: #83 highest

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27. Mathematics
> Overall score: 64.19
> Job availability and salary rank: #21 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #61 highest
> Career cost rank: #41 highest

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26. Pharmaceutical Sciences & Administration
> Overall score: 64.40
> Job availability and salary rank: #45 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #5 highest
> Career cost rank: #26 highest

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25. Physics
> Overall score: 64.54
> Job availability and salary rank: #6 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #89 highest
> Career cost rank: #74 highest

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24. Marketing
> Overall score: 64.61
> Job availability and salary rank: #16 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #74 highest
> Career cost rank: #17 highest

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23. Civil Engineering
> Overall score: 64.89
> Job availability and salary rank: #28 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #21 highest
> Career cost rank: #51 highest

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22. Aerospace, Aeronautical, & Astronautical Engineering
> Overall score: 64.93
> Job availability and salary rank: #18 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #23 highest
> Career cost rank: #88 highest

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21. Electrical Engineering
> Overall score: 65.15
> Job availability and salary rank: #23 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #32 highest
> Career cost rank: #48 highest

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20. Industrial Engineering
> Overall score: 65.20
> Job availability and salary rank: #12 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #48 highest
> Career cost rank: #70 highest

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19. Chemical Engineering
> Overall score: 65.32
> Job availability and salary rank: #11 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #59 highest
> Career cost rank: #60 highest

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18. Operations Management & Supervision
> Overall score: 65.43
> Job availability and salary rank: #22 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #60 highest
> Career cost rank: #4 highest

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17. Statistics
> Overall score: 65.77
> Job availability and salary rank: #20 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #54 highest
> Career cost rank: #5 highest

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16. Construction Management
> Overall score: 65.77
> Job availability and salary rank: #19 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #19 highest
> Career cost rank: #85 highest

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15. Nuclear Engineering
> Overall score: 66.21
> Job availability and salary rank: #27 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #7 highest
> Career cost rank: #59 highest

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14. Astronomy & Astrophysics
> Overall score: 66.60
> Job availability and salary rank: #31 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #1 highest
> Career cost rank: #57 highest

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13. Physical Therapy
> Overall score: 67.00
> Job availability and salary rank: #4 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #82 highest
> Career cost rank: #38 highest

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12. Logistics, Materials, & Supply Chain Management
> Overall score: 67.02
> Job availability and salary rank: #25 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #18 highest
> Career cost rank: #11 highest

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11. Veterinary Medicine
> Overall score: 67.21
> Job availability and salary rank: #17 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #10 highest
> Career cost rank: #69 highest

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10. Genetics
> Overall score: 67.55
> Job availability and salary rank: #29 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #2 highest
> Career cost rank: #35 highest

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9. Applied Mathematics
> Overall score: 67.84
> Job availability and salary rank: #10 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #46 highest
> Career cost rank: #7 highest

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8. Occupational Therapy
> Overall score: 68.92
> Job availability and salary rank: #14 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #11 highest
> Career cost rank: #39 highest

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7. Information Science
> Overall score: 68.94
> Job availability and salary rank: #5 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #63 highest
> Career cost rank: #9 highest

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6. Pharmacology & Toxicology
> Overall score: 69.69
> Job availability and salary rank: #8 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #6 highest
> Career cost rank: #82 highest

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5. Computer & Information Sciences
> Overall score: 69.74
> Job availability and salary rank: #7 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #25 highest
> Career cost rank: #42 highest

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4. Registered Nursing
> Overall score: 70.30
> Job availability and salary rank: #13 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #8 highest
> Career cost rank: #6 highest

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3. Petroleum Engineering
> Overall score: 70.94
> Job availability and salary rank: #2 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #36 highest
> Career cost rank: #98 highest

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2. Computer Engineering
> Overall score: 74.48
> Job availability and salary rank: #1 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #44 highest
> Career cost rank: #68 highest

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1. Actuarial Science
> Overall score: 75.88
> Job availability and salary rank: #3 highest out of 103 degrees
> Job stability rank: #14 highest
> Career cost rank: #23 highest

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