Sure, you told your kid that you were investing in their college education “unconditionally,” and they don’t need to know that you’re hoping to see some returns on that investment. And, while you want them to be happy, you’re also old and wise and know that “happy” doesn’t often follow “broke.” Fortunately, Georgetown University analyzed census data to determine what college majors amounted to the biggest paychecks, so you can start planting seeds now. Unsurprisingly, those seeds have STEMs.
After looking at 137 majors total, the report determined that the highest mid-career salary overall went to petroleum engineers, who average $136,000 annually, which amounts to $4.8 million over the course of a career, compared to $1.4 million if they majored in early childhood education (sorry kids!). The report found that people were best off studying STEM fields with engineering specialities, but in areas crucially tied to the economy such as petroleum and mining. According to experts, because these areas are so specialized, earning potential starts right out of the gate with a bachelor’s degree and further graduate degrees aren’t usually needed. That means more money and less school to pay for, which is music to most dad’s ears.
Despite this very clear signal, STEM majors like engineering and computer science are currently only pursued by about 20 percent of college kids. That’s because those careers aren’t for everyone, but unfortunately the only non-STEM majors in the top 25 were business economics and regular economics. So … thanks for nothing, nerds.
Of course, the report looks at the median incomes of each major, which can’t account for all the nuances in different industries or individual careers. For example, the report notes that a quarter of students who majored in liberal arts or humanities — where the median incomes hover around $50,000 — made more than 25 percent of those majoring in architecture or engineering. So instead of trying to engineer your very own petroleum engineer, focus on encouraging to be the best at whatever they end up doing. Or, you can keep trying to engineer your own petroleum engineer, just in case.