Undergraduate tuition, possible graduate degrees, and room and board all add up — especially for students taking out loans. But which degree and which jobs really pay off? See how long it would take students to pay off their student loans if they chose careers based on their degrees.

What is the return on investment of your college degree?

Occupation Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board) After-tax pay (2014)  Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans) Years needed to repay education investment1
Occupation: Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations specialist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $74,935 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $937 Years needed to repay education investment1: 5.3
Occupation: Economist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $62,786 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $785 Years needed to repay education investment1: 6.5
Occupation: Civil engineer Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $56,286 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $704 Years needed to repay education investment1: 7.4
Occupation: Political scientist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 6 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $68,010 After-tax pay (2014): $68,828 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $860 Years needed to repay education investment1: 7.9
Occupation: Microbiologist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $46,504 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $581 Years needed to repay education investment1: 9.3
Occupation: Accountant Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $45,235 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $565 Years needed to repay education investment1: 9.7
Occupation: Pharmacist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 7 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $92,421 After-tax pay (2014): $79,343 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $992 Years needed to repay education investment1: 9.7
Occupation: Physician — family/general practicioner Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 8 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $136,861 After-tax pay (2014): $113,443 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $1,418 Years needed to repay education investment1: 10.2
Occupation: Market research analyst Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $42,045 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $526 Years needed to repay education investment1: 10.6
Occupation: Political science teacher, post-secondary Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 6 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $68,010 After-tax pay (2014): $50,620 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $633 Years needed to repay education investment1: 11.7
Occupation: Dentist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 8 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $139,298 After-tax pay (2014): $101,444 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $1,268 Years needed to repay education investment1: 12
Occupation: Lawyer Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 7 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $103,677 After-tax pay (2014): $75,420 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $943 Years needed to repay education investment1: 12
Occupation: Public relations specialist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $38,196 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $477 Years needed to repay education investment1: 12.1
Occupation: English language/literature teacher, post-secondary Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 6 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $68,010 After-tax pay (2014): $41,270 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $516 Years needed to repay education investment1: 15.5
Occupation: Zoologist, wildlife biologist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 6 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $68,010 After-tax pay (2014): $39,973 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $500 16.3
Occupation: Librarian Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 6 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $68,010 After-tax pay (2014): $38,533 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $482 17.2
Occupation: Teacher (full time) Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $28,394 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $355 18.5
Occupation: Veterinarian Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 8 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $114,268 After-tax pay (2014): $60,087 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $751 19.3
Occupation: News analyst, reporter, correspondent Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 4 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $52,596 After-tax pay (2014): $25,519 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $319 22
Occupation: Marriage and family therapist Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs: 6 Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board): $68,010 After-tax pay (2014): $32,955 Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans): $412 22.1

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Tax Foundation

1Assuming 4.66 percent student loan interest, which matches the direct, unsubsidized federal loan from 2014.

We used the most recent education cost data from the National Center for Education Statistics and occupational data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Costs for undergraduate degrees are based on the tuition, fees, and room and board of a four-year, in-state, public school with no scholarships. Graduate degree costs are based on NCES data regarding tuition and fees for the specific area of study. Calculations were figured using an average loan interest payment of 6 percent. These numbers will vary based on the individual and are to be used solely as an informational tool.

If you would like more on how long it will take to pay off your student loan based on your salary, check out Bankrate’s student loan calculators.

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