Highest Paying Jobs for Graduates Straight Out of College

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How much can you earn straight out of college if you choose a major that will position you to work in one of the highest-paying jobs for graduates? Given the rising cost of higher education and the loan liability that many graduates have accumulated, college students are carefully considering the income potential of their degrees.

If you're an undergraduate, salary is one of the factors to consider when you're matching your interests to career options. Choose one of the best paying majors and you'll be positioned for financial success. It’s also important to consider whether the job responsibilities are a fit for your interests, and whether the long-term job outlook is promising. Also consider the long-term potential if you're looking for the best paid jobs, some of which may require additional education and training.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can help current and prospective college students to gain insight into the income and job potential of various popular options. Many of the jobs are technology-related, but there are other fields that pay graduates well, including health, communications, sales, finance, and entry-level management.

Top 20 Highest-Paying Jobs for Graduates

These are the 20 highest-paying jobs for college graduates with bachelor’s degrees. The chart and list below show the median income, projected job growth, and a brief description with job requirements.

Best Jobs for College Graduates

1. Software Developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to perform specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks.

The median annual income for software developers in May 2017 was $101,790. The BLS project growth projected growth of 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

2. Electrical Engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, including broadcast and communications systems, like portable music players and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

The median annual income for electrical engineers in May 2017 was $95,060. The BLS projected growth of 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about the average for all occupations.

3. Computer Systems Analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures, and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

The median annual income for computer systems analysts was $88,270 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about the average for all occupations.

4. Industrial Engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

The median annual income for industrial engineers was $85,880 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, slightly faster than the average for all occupations.

5. Mechanical Engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines. Mechanical engineers design power-producing machines—such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines—as well as power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

The median annual income for mechanical engineers was $85,880 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about the average for all occupations.

6. Civil Engineers conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

The median annual income for civil engineers was $84,770 in May 2017. The BLS estimated growth of 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

7. Financial Analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments. They work for banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms, insurance companies, and other businesses.

The median annual income for financial analysts was $84,770 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

8. Management Analysts or Management Consultants propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency. They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable by reducing costs and increasing revenues. Organizations hire consultants to develop strategies for entering today's marketplace and staying competitive within it.

The median annual income for management analysts was $82,450 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

9. Network and Computer Systems Administrators organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems. Administrators manage an organization’s servers and desktop and mobile equipment. They ensure that email and data storage networks work properly.

The median annual income for network and computer systems administrators was $81,100 in May 2017. The BLS estimated growth of 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, near the average for all occupations.

10. Sales Representatives for Technical and Scientific Products sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain and promote the features of the products they are selling, negotiate prices, and answer any questions that their customers may have about the products.

The median annual income for sales representatives of scientific and technical products was $78,830 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, near the average for all occupations.

11. Chemists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which the substances interact with one another. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products, and to test the quality of manufactured goods.

The median annual income for chemists was $74,740 in May 2017. The BLS estimated growth of 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, near the average for all occupations.

12. Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain—the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer. They manage the entire life cycle of a product, which includes the acquisition, allocation, and delivery of a product.

The median annual income for logisticians was $74,590 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, near the average for all occupations.

13. Registered Nurses provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

The median annual income for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

14. Accountants and Auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.

The median annual income for accountants and auditors was $69,350 in May 2017. The BLS estimated growth of 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

15. Loan Officers evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. The work of loan officers has sizable customer service and sales components. Loan officers often answer questions and guide customers through the application process.

The median annual income for loan officers was $64,660 in May 2017. The BLS estimated growth of 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

16. Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Salespersons connect buyers and sellers in financial markets. They sell securities to individuals, advise companies in search of investors, and conduct trades.

The median annual income for securities salespersons was $63,780 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, near the average for all occupations.

17. Marketing Research Analysts study market conditions to examine the sales potential of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price. They collect data and information using a variety of methods, such as interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, market analysis surveys, public opinion polls, and literature reviews.

The median annual income for market research analysts was $63,230 in May 2017. The BLS estimated growth of 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

18. Human Resources Specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle other human resources work, such as those related to employee relations, compensation, benefits, and training.

The median annual income for human resource specialists was $60,350 in May 2017. The BLS predicted growth of 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

19. Public Relations Specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization, and to increase awareness of its work and goals.

The median annual income for public relations specialists was $59,300 in May 2017. The BLS projected growth of 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

20. Elementary, Middle School and High School Teachers prepare lessons, present educational material to students, evaluate students' progress, control classroom behavior, and communicate with parents about student problems and progress.

The median annual income for this group of teachers was about $58,000 in May 2017. The BLS estimated growth of 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Source: Job descriptions, salary, and job outlook information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics