25 Best Paying Careers for Bachelor’s Degree Grads

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Studying longer for an MBA or doctorate isn’t always necessary for a six-figure salary. Several careers offer big bucks to bachelor’s program grads with good experience and work ethic. We’re talking figures well beyond the average starting wage of $50,390 on CNN Money. Some even rival what alumni with advanced degrees earn. For instance, PhD-level professors only report median income of $76,000. Working hard for an MSW opens mean social work pay of just $47,980 in comparison. Therefore, it’s clear that some baccalaureate paths have better earning potential if money is your motivator. We’ve used the Bureau of Labor Statistics to locate the 25 best paying careers for bachelor’s degree grads with yearly norms above $100,000. We also used the U.S. News & World Report and Niche to find five excellent colleges with bachelor’s majors to start each lucrative career.

1. Airline Pilot

Airline pilots are cloud captains who safely navigate the skies to transport people or cargo many miles. They’re FAA licensed to create flight plans, manage cockpit controls, check for mechanical errors, and conduct smooth landings.

Average Salary: $161,280

Top Schools: Embry-Riddle, Purdue, Western Michigan, Arizona State, and Caltech

2. Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers are gas extractors who design drilling methods to reach oil reserves deep below Earth’s crust. Their duties include innovating rig equipment, surveying wells, recording production data, and leading oilfields.

Average Salary: $154,780

Top Schools: Texas Tech, Penn State, Tulsa, Missouri S&T, and Louisiana State

3. Information Systems Manager

Information systems managers are tech gurus who oversee corporate IT departments to ensure smooth digital sailing. They install apt hardware, take security precautions, fix computer glitches, and administer network upgrades.

Average Salary: $149,730

Top Schools: Florida Atlantic, Maryville, Colorado State, NYU, and Toledo

4. Architectural Manager

Architectural managers are building foremen who supervise the planning of edifices for new construction. Their NAAB training helps analyze blueprints, dissect project proposals, hire talented architects, and check technical soundness.

Average Salary: $146,290

Top Schools: Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Rice, UNC-Charlotte, and Tulane

5. Financial Manager

Financial managers are money watchers who control organizational cash flow for profitable returns on investment. They’re often CFA certified to forecast revenues, make budget decisions, minimize asset risks, and abide tax laws.

Average Salary: $143,530

Top Schools: Berkeley, Boston College, Ohio State, Virginia, and MIT

6. Sales Manager

Sales managers are retail savants who create the corporate strategies for customer reps to persuade purchases. Their tasks include setting prices, training salespeople, assessing buyer demand, and resolving service complaints.

Average Salary: $137,650

Top Schools: Houston, Oregon State, Liberty, Saint Joseph’s Maine, and Lamar

7. Natural Sciences Manager

Natural sciences managers are STEM lab chiefs who coordinate empirical research to test hypotheses about the physical world. They hire PhD-level scientists, allocate project funds, purchase equipment, and review progress.

Average Salary: $133,670

Top Schools: Princeton, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and Vanderbilt

8. Benefits Manager

Benefits managers are HR professionals who devise rewarding pay structures that keep employees satisfied and productive. They set wages, acquire insurance contracts, coordinate retirement plans, and distribute vacation time.

Average Salary: $130,010

Top Schools: Baylor, Gonzaga, Loyola Chicago, UW-Madison, and Marist

9. Public Relations Manager

Public relations managers are media masterminds who nurture a positive corporate identity for product promotion. They’re PRSA certified to draft press releases, create online buzz, handle journalist inquiries, and write speeches.

Average Salary: $127,690

Top Schools: Florida State, St. John’s, USC, Auburn, and South Carolina

10. Financial Planner

Financial planners are wealth advisors who help clients best manage their assets for long-term investment goals. They finish CFP credentialing to simplify saving, suggest stocks, manage portfolios, and give mortgage/loan advice.

Average Salary: $124,140

Top Schools: San Diego State, Clemson, Georgia, Mizzou, and Utah Valley

11. Advertising Manager

Advertising managers are consumer psychics who craft the right messaging to attract public attention to goods or services. Their duties include analyzing print layouts, buying ad space, filming commercials, and planning billboards.

Average Salary: $123,880

Top Schools: Georgetown, Portland State, Tampa, Emory, and Temple

12. Operations Manager

Operations managers are task jugglers who wear many hats overseeing the daily functioning of departments. They’re busy ensuring quality control, doing performance appraisals, tracking productivity, and handling logistics.

Average Salary: $123,460

Top Schools: UPenn, Iowa State, Bellevue, Oregon Tech, and CSU-East Bay

13. Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers are plane protectors who direct the safe movement of flight vehicles to and from runways. They’re FAA trained to give landing instructions, monitor radar routes, inform pilots, and address emergencies.

Average Salary: $120,260

Top Schools: Kent State, Miami Dade, Hampton, LeTourneau, and ENMU

14. Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers are IT builders who plan schematics for wiring electronics devices that access the internet. They modify circuit boards, test processors, manufacture routers, design keyboards, and update RAM.

Average Salary: $119,650

Top Schools: UT-Austin, Duke, Rensselaer, Johns Hopkins, and Maryland

15. Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers are corporate principals who run insightful instructional programs that teach employees skills. They’re often SHRM certified to study workforce needs, plan workshops, and create curricula.

Average Salary: $117,690

Top Schools: Quinnipiac, Louisville, Geneva, Harding, and Lipscomb

16. Astronautical Engineer

Astronautical engineers are spacecraft creators who prepare prototypes for travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Their obligations include building satellites, testing rockets, manufacturing missiles, and monitoring galaxy exploration.

Average Salary: $115,300

Top Schools: Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Dayton, and UC-Boulder

17. Actuary

Actuaries are mathematical wizards who help insurance carriers calculate the risks of coverage to increase profits. They’ve passed SOA exams to do statistical modeling, pinpoint probability, make charts, and design policies.

Average Salary: $114,850

Top Schools: Butler, Murray State, Otterbein, Rutgers, and SUNY Albany

18. Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers are solution savants who mix elements to produce organic or synthetic compounds for large-scale use. They develop manufacturing processes, set safety protocol, conduct research, and improve equipment.

Average Salary: $112,430

Top Schools: Northwestern, UM-Twin Cities, Yale, Arizona, and Clarkson

19. Systems Software Developer

Systems software developers are hard drive innovators who construct the interfaces on which computers operate. Their tasks include identifying users’ needs, crafting digital models, programming code, and doing maintenance.

Average Salary: $111,780

Top Schools: San Jose State, RIT, Drexel, Brigham Young, and Champlain

20. Health Administrator

Health administrators are clinical conductors who ensure medical wards work together in concert for high-quality patient care. They manage physicians, oversee billing, coordinate records systems, and test legal compliance.

Average Salary: $111,680

Top Schools: Eastern Kentucky, Howard, UConn, James Madison, and Weber State

21. Industrial Production Manager

Industrial production managers are factory executives who streamline the assembly of goods from cars to phones. They’re great at operating machinery, writing plant reports, supervising workers, and fixing manufacture errors.

Average Salary: $110,580

Top Schools: Davenport, Goodwin, Tarleton State, Cincy, and Ferris State

22. Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineers are energy producers who formulate the methods for safely using radioactive materials. Their ABET-accredited training helps design reactor cores, develop cyclotrons, dispose nuclear waste, and prevent crises.

Average Salary: $108,910

Top Schools: NC State, New Mexico, Idaho State, West Point, and UIUC

23. Network Architect

Network architects are cable connectors who skillfully unite workers with communication systems called LANs or WANs. They present layout plans, pick apt routers, install adaptors, erect security firewalls, and troubleshoot.

Average Salary: $107,870

Top Schools: Dakota State, Miles College, Herzing, Pierce, and Alfred State

24. Sales Engineer

Sales engineers are persuasive pitchers who market complex scientific tools to solve technical problems businesses have. They’re active explaining product specs, giving machine suggestions, securing orders, and planning delivery.

Average Salary: $106,950

Top Schools: Columbia, Kansas, Brown, Cooper Union, and Dartmouth

25. Mining Engineer

Mining engineers are geological colliers who invent effective means to remove minerals like coal or salt from the Earth. They’re often PE licensed to study ore deposits, inspect mines, oversee tunneling, and address hazards.

Average Salary: $103,710

Top Schools: West Virginia, Southern Illinois, Kentucky, UAF, and Montana Tech


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