10 Highest Paying Careers for Bachelor’s Degree Grads

Are you wondering whether or not you need to get a graduate degree to find a job earning a sizable salary? While a graduate degree is necessary to get an excellent job in some industries, it isn’t a strict necessity in every field. Provided you’re talented and you have the required skill set employers are looking for, there are quite a few lucrative careers you could pursue even if you’re armed with only a bachelor’s degree. Read on to discover 10 of the highest paying careers for bachelor’s degree grads.

1. Engineering

Engineering is one of the most attractive career choices for job seekers who hold bachelor’s degrees. To get started with an engineering career in some fields, a specialized engineering degree is required; in others, a degree in one of the related sciences is sufficient, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While most engineers are paid well, there are a few engineering specialties that stand out as being the most lucrative opportunities for job seekers who hold bachelor’s degrees:

  • Petroleum Engineers — Petroleum engineers earn a median annual salary of nearly $130,000. Their job is to devise strategies for extracting natural resources from the earth, primarily oil and gas deposited at hard-to-reach depths. Increasingly lucrative opportunities exist for innovative petroleum engineers who can do this job while improving on the methods currently in use. Environmentalists and some regulators are clamoring for new methods that avoid the environmental devastation caused by hydraulic fracturing, the method of extraction currently in use in about 90 percent of the natural gas wells in the USA.
  • Computer Hardware Engineers — Computer hardware engineers earn a median salary of $111,730. These professionals are responsible for creating new computer hardware technology and improving on existing technology. This job title can be especially attractive to new college graduates because some employers treat it as an entry-level position.
  • Aerospace Engineers — Aerospace engineers earn a median salary in the neighborhood of $107,830 per year while working to design aircraft, military defense systems, spacecraft and related technology. Currently, some of the best prospects for aerospace engineering jobs are in federal government positions and the manufacturing industry. While this is not a growing industry, there are opportunities for aerospace engineers who can design new technologies for reducing aircraft noise pollution or redesign existing systems to improve fuel efficiency.

2. Software Design

Software developers earn annual median pay of $100,690. Most of them work in the high tech sector, with software publishers being their primary employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies that create and sell computer systems have a perpetual need for their expertise, but there are also other industries that have a need for software developers. Digital media publishers, manufacturers, financial institutions, wireless telecom companies and insurance companies all employ software developers to create dedicated solutions for their organizations’ needs.

3. Computer Programming

Computer programmers spend their days coding new computer programs and working to improve existing programs. This can be an entry-level position suitable for new graduates holding only bachelor’s degrees. Computer programmers earn annual median pay of $79,530, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. Mathematics

Some of the highest paying jobs for mathematicians require graduate degrees, but there are some lucrative jobs available that do not. A career as an actuary is one of the highest-paid positions you can achieve with only a bachelor’s degree in math. Actuaries earn annual median pay of about $97,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most actuaries find profitable employment in the insurance industry. They put their math skills to work assessing the probabilities associated with various risk factors and then advising their organizations what the resulting cost projections look like. They also suggest plans to help minimize the financial burdens of the risk.

Do you think perhaps you might want to become an actuary? If so, before you graduate you’ll want to enroll in as many statistics, probability and business courses as your schedule will allow. Your grades in the courses matter, but your skills matter even more. After graduation, you’ll need to pass multiple challenging actuarial examinations. Certification may also be required.

5. Finance

If a high-paying career is what you want, finance is a fantastic major course of study. There are many enticing career paths you could aspire to if your academic background is in finance, and many of them are accessible to entry-level candidates holding bachelor’s degrees.

One attractive career path to consider is that of a personal financial advisor. These professionals guide their clients through the process of managing their assets including investments, property, taxes, insurance, estate planning and retirement accounts. They earn a median annual salary of $89,160, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

6. Accounting

Bachelor’s degree grads with accounting skills can typically put them to use immediately after graduation working to prepare financial and tax records for businesses or business people. Accountants are perpetually in demand, as businesses all need their expertise. Accountants earn a median annual salary of $67,190, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

7. Nursing

Nursing is an occupation offering growing numbers of opportunities; as the baby boom generation ages, there’s increasing demand for healthcare professionals to attend to their needs. Registered nurses help to fulfill this role by caring for their patients and by providing education, support and advice regarding health care issues. While the highest paid roles for nurses require specialized graduate degrees, there are lucrative opportunities for bachelor’s degree grads in nursing. Registered nurses earn annual median pay of $67,490, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

8. Chemistry

Chemists fulfill multiple important roles in contemporary society. They concoct new products including paints, adhesives, cleaners and pharmaceuticals. They research, analyze and experiment on behalf of diverse organizations ranging from the US federal government to healthcare services. Chemists earn annual median pay of $72,610, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is currently possible for bachelor’s degree grads to do well with careers in chemistry, but this career path may become more challenging in the future as its growth begins to slow. Experts at the US Department of Labor note that many of the cushiest chemistry research jobs require advanced degrees. They predict that chemists who earn Ph.D. degrees are likely to be offered the best opportunities in the future.

9. Human Resources

The US Department of Labor maintains data on various career paths that human resources professionals can take. Two noteworthy job titles are “human resources manager” and “human resources specialist.” Of these two designations, human resources managers are paid better, with annual median salaries of $104,440, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, human resources specialists earn annual median pay of $58,350. The two job descriptions are similar; both require bachelor’s degrees, people skills and the ability to recruit qualified people, hire and train them. The main difference in the two roles: The human resources specialist is an entry-level job typically requiring no work experience. The higher paying human resources manager jobs tend to require 5 years of relevant work experience, possibly in a supervisory role depending on the company.

10. Marketing

Marketing is an activity that most businesses need to engage in, which means that marketing expertise is perpetually in demand. There are many different career paths that marketing majors can take. One of the most financially rewarding is the job of marketing manager. A marketing manager is tasked with overseeing the team responsible for creating awareness of the hiring organization’s products, services or core message. Marketing managers earn median annual pay of $124,850, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To get a job as a marketing manager, you’ll typically need to have relevant work experience in sales, marketing or advertising.

Related Resource: 10 Highest-Paying Jobs in Finance

Now you’re updated on which careers are workable if you want to earn a fantastic salary, even if you aren’t convinced you want to go to graduate school. If you’re interested in engineering, computer science, math, business, nursing or chemistry, it’s worth considering any of the 10 highest paying careers for bachelor’s degree grads mentioned above.