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Top College Majors and Starting Salaries

In these economic times, you may be wondering what Americans earn. A recent CNN article gave information about the 10 most common majors (areas of study) and how much graduates might expect to earn when they enter the market (start working; get their first job). This is not based on a scientific study, but on people’s own reported salaries, but it may still be interesting. Of course, salaries vary greatly depending on where people live in the U.S., with higher salaries in larger cities.

Excerpted from the article, “10 Most Popular Majors and What They Pay.”

Business administration and management
Business administration is one of the more lucrative (money making) majors in terms of starting salary. Graduates with a degree in business administration and management are often on track to (on the path to; on the way to) eventually assume (take power and responsibility for) leadership roles…

Beginning salary: $57,132.

Computer science (study and design of computer-related things)

A computer science degree can be used in a number of careers because of the variety of skills that graduates learn. Those skills range from developing software (programs and other computer information) and analyzing systems to more advanced skills like working with language recognition programs and other types of artificial intelligence (using machines to do the thinking and work of humans).

Beginning salary: $46,849.

Criminal justice (working as police and in other law enforcement jobs)

Graduates with a degree in criminal justice have a number of options for their career path. One initial (first) choice is becoming a police officer. Graduates can also join state or federal police agencies.

They can also become involved with other related areas like law, work as a legal assistant or court administrator, or work for a government agency like the FBI, CIA or Homeland Security.

Beginning salary: $38,182.

Elementary education (teaching children from kindergarten (ages 5, 6) to eighth grade (ages 11/12)

Education continues to be a popular major and teachers continue to be sought after (in demand; with many people wanting to hire them) throughout the country, which explains why it is one of the few industries to add workers in 2008.

Despite the importance of the role that an elementary teacher has in a child’s education, the beginning salary for a new teacher is the lowest of the 10 most popular majors.

Beginning salary: $29,414.

Nursing (working in hospitals and with doctors to help injured or sick people)

Nursing is the largest industry in health care, with 25 million workers, and is another industry that is adding workers in 2008. Nurses are in high demand nearly everywhere in the country. Registered nurses, who provide a range of general care, are always in demand.

Graduates have a wide range of choices as to what kind of care they wish to provide. There are also jobs in home health care (taking care of sick or injured people in their own home), as well as jobs where nurses can be educators and patient advocates (helping people get the care they need and making sure that doctors and hospitals follow laws and rules).

Beginning salary: $41,173.

To read about the other majors, see the article here.

~ Lucy

11 Responses to “Top College Majors and Starting Salaries”

  1. Akiuki Says:

    Very interesting this blog, thank you.
    I read an article in Business Week in relation with this subject. Basically, the main subject of the article was related to how the companies are trying to lure and keep young talent – Gen Yers- in order to increase their Company Average five-year employee retention rate .

    Under the current circumstances, when salary is tight, companies are appealing to company perks. The most appreciated perks by young workers are, according to the article:

    • Have flex time: 72%
    • Offer more than two weeks paid time off or vacation on first year: 56%
    • Make workers eligible for promotion on or before 1-year: 51%
    • Have a 401(k) match of more than 5% (I would grateful if someone could explain me what 401(k) is) : 25%
    • Pay the full cost of health insurance : 6%

    On the other hand, the article displays figures of the 2008 Entry-Level Average Pay per Industries:

    Investment Banking: 61,071 USD
    Technology: 59,500 USD
    Consulting: 56,389 USD
    Energy: 55,313 USD
    Manufacturing: 53,125 USD

    Pharmaceuticals: 52,500 USD
    Financial Services: 49,643 USD
    Transportation: 44,286 USD
    Insurance: 44,231 USD
    Nonprofit/Government: 40,000 USD

    I am afraid these figures are going to shrink over the year-end and next year due to the deteriorating economic outlook, so company perks could be a good approach for employers and employees.

  2. Richard Says:

    Hi everybody,
    is this of course annually salary ? In my country we generally give information about monthly salary but I suppose this is per year ?

  3. Fred Says:

    Thank you very much.

  4. elcomandant Says:

    Everybody must work to can live, that is, I change my free time doing something for money. So, I should earn enough money not only for a living, but for a worthy way living. I mean, that with the salary that CNN says Americans earn, must be enough for pay, children education, wearing to children, medical insurance, rent a house, telephone, electricity, wather, gas, food, etc.

    The life is expensive, sometimes very expensive and we must work hard, sometimes very hard. Normaly, our salary is as high as soft is the job we’re doing. That is, the job that want to do anybody, is the job that needs more effort and it has a salary more low, besides, the hiring are precarious. I think that in those jobs is where the government must put the point.

    I think that would be good an rapprochement of the extremes, at least a little. Don’t you think so?


  5. Rogério Souza Says:

    As in my country,Brasil, teachers aren’t well paid. I am surprised it’s happen in the USA, may be this salary isn’t low in US but, it must improved.

  6. emiliano Says:

    Yes, I think so elcomandant, but it seems very difficult to do such a thing as there are thousands, millions, of people working very hard just for a very few money only enough to eat and little more.

    Also it is so amazing that an important work, I think really fundamental, as elementary education is the lowest of the ten.
    I do not understand anything about the world I am living, and as much older I am the less I assume.

  7. Peter Says:

    Dear Lucy,

    Statically speaking, Actors and actress makes real money, they are big man. Considering the fact , I guess getting into film industry specially as an actor or actress is way more lucrative than the jobs you are listing above. Believe you me ,they live in a cloud-cuckoo-land where they don’t need to pull a stunt to make wishes come true simply because everything is at their finger prints. What do you make of it my friend,Lucy?

  8. Peter Says:

    No hard feeling ,but, what is your take on it?

  9. Leslie Chen Says:

    I wonder that the above mentioned salaries is beforetax or aftertax?

  10. Peter Says:

    It never fails .sorry Lucy ,Finger tips .I dont know how on earth I put down finger prints. Please overlook my shortcomings that apperantly occures more often than not. You know alaphone people like me slip up quite often when they try hard to be an angalophone like you or Jeff. Believe me or not ,it is even worse when you try to work your way up to be an francophone.
    My appology to you and your team members that take hours out of your life to put your intimate knowledge and experience out there in the public domain,and sorry that I bother you with my sheer nonsense form time to time

  11. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    Thanks for the additional information, Akiuki. That’s very interesting.

    Americans normally report and talk about their salaries on an annual basis (by year) and not by month, although people seldom talk about how much they make in daily, social situations. It’s considered a taboo (not acceptable) to ask someone how much they make, though some people may bring it up themselves.

    Americans also talk about salaries as a gross number, meaning that it is before taxes are taken out. I don’t know what the average national tax rate is off the top of my head. About 40% make too little to pay any income taxes, but about 25-35% is about what I would estimate it to be.

    Yes, Peter, it would be nice to make the large salaries of stars we see in TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, only a very small number of people ever reach that level of success. For the rest of us, we’ll just have to keep doing our work everyday until we make it big (become famous)!