If you are considering going to college to attain a bachelor’s degree, you might be wondering which careers offer the best bang for your buck when it’s time to get a job. While a degree in underwater basket weaving might sound like a hoot, it’s probably not going to pay all that well. If you’re looking for a rewarding career that also provides an excellent salary, here are some options.
Degrees & Career Paths
A bachelor’s degree is also referred to as a four-year degree because it typically takes four years of full-time study to complete. Some students do finish their four-year degrees in less time, while others need more than four years to complete their education if they’re working a job or going to school part-time. Another reason it could take longer is that the student might change majors. When this happens, a student is required to take more classes.
Most bachelor degree programs require a minimum of 120 credit hours to complete. That averages out to roughly 40 different classes. Some courses are general courses that almost all college students take such as bio, freshman English, and a physical education class. Most students take these classes during the first two years of school. After that, students delve into their major classes, begin internships and other major requirements outside of the classroom.
For some careers, an advanced degree, such as a master’s or MBA, is required. However, in some cases, experience in the field is sufficient and will be accepted instead of an advanced degree. Although the additional education might be appreciated, there’s a good chance that an applicant has gained that knowledge through working in the field. Unless it is a licensing or insurance issue, a person with a bachelor’s degree and five years’ experience working in a field should feel comfortable applying for positions that usually require an advanced degree. If given a choice, many employers would choose a worker with a degree and years of experience over an applicant with an advanced degree and no work experience.
Chief Executive Officer
Average Income: $158,900
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in a related field plus experience
Projected Growth: Varies by industry
Chief Executive Officers oversee the entire operation of an organization. In collaboration with the board, the CEO makes the decisions regarding the path the business is going to take.
Computer Network Architect
Average Income: $119,400
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Projected Growth: 6% average growth by 2026.
Network architects build and design data communication systems and networks such as LANs, WANs, and Intranets. Along with a BS in Computer Science, training and experience in network and information systems is desired.
Engineering Program Manager
Average Income: $112,500
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Engineering
Projected Growth: 6% average growth by 2026.
Engineering program managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities for engineering companies. They usually work with a team of engineers and complete a variety of projects as needed.
Program Manager, Aviation
Average Income: $109,400
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Aviation
Projected Growth: Unknown
Aviation program managers run the operations at airports. They could be in charge of the pilot training program or handle the day-to-day operations of the airport. They are often trained pilots themselves with current, valid certifications from the FAA.
Senior Database Administrator
Average Income: $105,200
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Information Technology or Computer Science
Projected Growth: 11% growth by 2026 - faster than average growth.
Database administrators build and maintain databases for customers. They ensure that the information a business needs is accurate and available but secure from those who should not access to the information.
Senior Software Engineer/Software Developer
Average Income: $102,200
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Software Development
Projected Growth: 24% growth by 2026. Much faster than the national average according to the BLS.
Software engineers develop and design computer software. The software could be programmed for an end-user such as word processing or accounting software, or it could be the software used to run the computer system itself such as Windows.
Average Income: $101,600
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering
Projected Growth: 15% growth by 2026. This is faster than the national average.
Petroleum engineers develop and design methods to extract oil and gas from deposits below the earth’s surface. They are also tasked with finding new and innovative ways of getting oil and gas out of older existing wells. The job often requires travel since much of the work and consultations with other engineers and workers must be done onsite.
Average Income: $101,500
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Aviation. Airline pilots also must hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate which is issued by the FAA
Projected Growth: 4% by 2026. This is slower than the national average for job growth, according to the BLS.
Airline pilots fly and navigate airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft. They work for airlines of companies which own their own aircraft. Many pilots get their career started in the military, then go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree later.
Senior Electrical Engineer
Average Income: $101,300
Degree Needed: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
Projected Growth: 7% by 2026. This is average job growth. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 21,000 new electrical engineer positions will be created by 2026.
Electrical engineers design, develop, and test electrical equipment, usually in a manufacturing setting. Electrical engineers build items such as engines, GPS systems, and power generation equipment.
Compensation and Benefits Manager: $88,400
This position works with human resources to administer and manage benefit packages such as vacation pay, insurance benefits, and other forms of compensation outside of hourly pay and salaries. A bachelor’s degree in business or accounting is the typical educational background needed for this position.
A physicist is a scientist that is focused on the study of physics and the universe. There are many types of physics that a scientist could focus on, such as theoretical, astrophysics, or quantum. A bachelor’s degree is the base degree, but more education is often required.
Physician Assistant: $93,900
A physician assistant or PA is a healthcare provider who practices medicine under the direct supervision of a physician. They are licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and illnesses and can prescribe medicine. Laws vary, but at a minimum, a bachelor's degree is required.
R&D Manager: $96,700
Research and development occurs in a variety of industries. The manager of an R&D team supervises the other workers while they conduct experiments and do testing. A bachelor’s degree in the field in which the R&D is being conducted is required, as well as experience working in the specific field.
Although a high salary is possible in a variety of industries, some seem to be more promising than others. The field of engineering in all its forms is a profitable career option, whether you choose to study petroleum, chemical,, mechanical, or civil engineering. The job prospects for all the engineering fields are positive, with predictions for job growth ranging from average to much faster than average according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you have an aptitude in math and science, this could lead to a viable and profitable career option.
Another option is computer programming and information technology. Whether you want to design software, build computer or GPS systems, or build databases to help with managing and securing data, this is another good opportunity for someone who wants a high-paying career. Job growth projections for this sector remain high, so there’s a good chance that once you attain your bachelor’s degree, there will be work available.
Another profitable degree type is in business. Every industry needs a CEO. Many CEOs started as rank and file employees and worked their way up the corporate ladder. Although CEOs who hold only a bachelor’s degree are rare, it is possible if the person has the right skill set and business acumen to make solid business decisions.