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10 college degrees that lead to high-paying jobs

Engineering
Engineering | Monty Rakusen/Cultura/Getty Images

Engineering

  • Median mid-career pay: $115,000-$168,000
  • Median starting salary: $65,000-$101,000

When it comes to landing an impressive paycheck, engineers dominate. Seven of the top highest-paying college majors are in the engineering fields with petroleum, nuclear, chemical, electronics and communications engineering and computer science and engineering claiming 5 of the top 6 slots.

Engineers across all disciplines can up their pay by getting a Professional Engineering, or PE, license, says Lawrence Jacobson, former executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers in Alexandria, Virginia.

"Only 10% of practicing engineers are licensed, and that's because most manufacturing companies don't require licenses," Jacobson says. "The average delta between the licensed and unlicensed person is about $10,000 per year. Over a 30-year career, that's a lot of money."

Jacobson says that getting a license provides job seekers with more career options, the ability to go into business for themselves and the right to provide expert testimony in court cases. The catch is that getting a PE license is tough. Jacobson recommends that new engineering grads take the exam as soon as possible, which is usually after completing 4 to 5 years of work in the field after graduation.

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