Employment Trends

10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Graduates

Written by Peter Jones

A a college degree is not a guarantee for the big bucks the way it used to be. and law school and medical school are always a good idea for making good money over the course of a career, but they can be prohibitively expensive—and take far too long.

Here are 10 of the highest paying jobs for college graduates that don’t require any additional schooling.

1. Investment banker – $100k

It’s not the most altruistic career, but starting salaries are often over $100k on average, and if you’ve got a degree in economics, business, or math, this could be a great way to set yourself up nicely right out of the gate.

2. Software developer – $80k

If you’ve got a degree in computer science, math, or engineering, and you’d like to make over $80k in your first year, plus you’re interested in getting in a field with a 30% growth rate, this career may be for you.

3. Actuary – $79k

Actuaries work for insurance companies, assessing risk and helping to determine rates. You’ll need a strong math background, plus you’ll have to pass a few professional exams, but the money is good—an average of $79k per year.

4. Engineer – $72k

You’ll need a BS in engineering, and to pass two different state licensure exams, but if you’re the problem-solving type and you’d like to make an average of $72k your first year, you might want to go to work—literally—fixing the world.

5. Network systems admin – $70k

With an average first-year salary of just under $70k per year, network systems administrators need a degree in computer science (sometimes even an associate’s degree plus experience!). It’s got good growth potential (23%) and if you love computers and helping people, this could be a great fit.

6. Internet marketer – $70k

With more companies turning to the internet and social media for marketing, this is a good ground-floor career to get in on. Best pursued with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, you’ll likely make just under $70k in your first year.

7. Financial analyst – $66k

If you have a degree in business, finance, economics, accounting, or statistics, and you feel you can give sound advice to business about expanding their growth, then you could make an average of $66k in your first year.

8. Pharmaceutical rep – $60k

You’ll need a degree in chemistry, pharmaceutical science, or marketing, plus some training, but the pay is almost $60k in the first year, and you’ll be interacting with people for a good chunk of your workweek.

9. Web designer – $58k

If you have a degree in computer science, graphic design, and/or some programming knowledge (i.e. HTML, CSS, java, flash, PHP, or MySQL), and you’d perhaps like to set your own schedule and workplace location, then you could be making around $58k in your first year designing and building websites.

10. RN – $45k

Registered nurses make over $45k in their first year. You’ll need a degree in nursing, plus you’ll have to pass a national licensure exam, but there’s good growth (22%), and you’ll be helping people for a living!

About the author

Peter Jones