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6 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a Bachelor’s Degree

6 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a Bachelor’s Degree main image

Before shelling out on a five-figure undergraduate education, you’ll want to get a picture of what your earnings could be like after graduation and whether or not you’ll need to earn further qualifications in order to increase your earning potential.

If a graduate degree isn’t an option, and high earning potential is what you’re looking for, you’ll be pleased to hear there are a number of high-paying jobs you can be qualified for with just a bachelor’s degree.

Below is a selection of high-paying jobs that typically require a bachelor’s degree, along with the information on the ideal subject(s) to study at university in order to impress employers in these industries.

Accountant

“You’ve got to work with money to make money”, is how the famous saying would go if finance and accounting salary statistics were considered. You may think the big salaries are reserved only for the top bankers and financial advisors, but even at the bottom of the financial career pond there’s money to be made.

According to the 2018 Salary Survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in the US currently earn an average starting salary of $50,833, while in the UK accounting graduates can earn starting salaries of up to £25,000 ($35,500), with potential to earn upwards of £50,000 ($71,000) once fully trained and qualified as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

What you’ll need: A bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance will kit you out for any entry-level role in the accounting industry. Although further study isn’t required for these early roles, many graduates choose to gain extra training within the field in order to become qualified CPAs and to subsequently earn a sizable income increase without the need for a graduate degree.

Engineer

A consistently high-paying job sector, engineering is as one of the five highest-paid degree subjects, according to 2018 data compiled by NACE. NACE also found that software engineering graduates earn the highest starting salaries of the engineering branches considered, at $70,073.

Other lucrative graduate roles include those for computer engineers (average starting salary $69,510), chemical engineers ($68,764), electrical engineers ($67,358), and mechanical engineers ($66,659).

In the UK, engineering graduates can expect to earn at least £25,000 (~$35,550) as their starting salary. Chemical engineering is the most lucrative engineering field in the UK, with an average starting salary of £27,696 (~$39,400).

What you’ll need: To become an engineer you’ll be expected to have specialized in the particular field of engineering you’re looking to go into, e.g. aeronauticalchemicalelectricalmechanicalcivil or other specialized engineering degree path. Further training and qualifications will further increase your earning potential.

Nurse

While higher-level positions within the medical sector may be out of reach with just a bachelor’s degree, nursing careers can offer fairly surprising pay packets. In the US for example, nursing is projected to grow by 15 percent over the next eight years, much faster than other occupations. Entry-level nurses in the US earn around $48,690. According to NACE, healthcare administration graduates earn more, at an average of $55,200.  

In the UK, although the differentiation with the US medical industry is clear, newly graduating nurses can still expect to earn a reasonable starting salary of £22,000–£28,500 (~$31,300-40,600).

What you’ll need: To gain an entry-level role as a nurse in the US you will need to gain a diploma, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSc). In the UK, you’ll need a degree and must be registered with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

Computer programmer

IT professionals are sought-after more than ever before, thanks to the fast-paced world of computer technology and the increasing dominance of online and IT skills. In the US, the median salary of a computer programmer stood at $82,240 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, with starting salaries for computer science graduates reaching an average of $66,005 according to the NACE Salary Survey.

In the UK, computer programmers earn an average of £30,779 (~$43,800), depending on the hiring industry (with blue-chip employers paying the largest sums).

Other high-paying jobs within the IT sector include those within web development (median salary of $67,990 in the US), network architecture ($104,650) and software development ($103,560 ), with starting salaries also looking fairly healthy.

What you’ll need: To become a computer programmer in the US or UK you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field such as computer science, information systems or mathematics. Some entry-level roles may require work experience.

Public relations manager

Graduate careers in public relations can be lucrative, with specialist roles in the US earning a median salary of $53,241 annually, and management roles boasting a hefty median salary of $111,280, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. NACE’s Salary Survey 2018 report found that communications graduates overall earn an average of $51,448.

Across the pond in the UK, public relations roles are also fairly well paid, with PR executives and assistants earning an average of £20,300 (~$28,900), PR officers earning between £22,000 and £28,000 (~$31,300 to $39,850), and managers earning upwards of £35,525 (~$50,600).

What you’ll need: While public relations careers are relatively easy to get into with just a bachelor’s degree, hard work and perseverance is needed before gaining a coveted managerial pay packet. Public relations employers will often look kindly upon graduates with undergraduate degrees in subjects such as communications, journalism, Englishbusinessmarketing and media studies.

Management consultant

It’s common knowledge that the business world is where the big bucks come from, but more often than not the highest wages are reserved for those either with years of experience or with years of graduate study behind them. To become a management consultant, however, often an undergraduate degree is all you need to get your foot in the door – and, gratefully, that foot is likely to get a nice starting salary.

According to NACE’s 2018 Salary Survey, management consultancy is a top-paying industry for the Class of 2018 in the US, with new hires earning salaries of $67,569, while the median pay for consultants of all levels stands at US$82,450 annually. Notably, it has also been predicted that employment rates in the US will grow approximately 14 percent over the next eight years.

In the UK, starting salaries currently average between £25,000 and £30,000 annually according to Prospects (~$35,600 to $42,700), with further training and an average of five years’ work experience bringing this figure up to approximate annual average of £50,000 (~$71,130).

What you’ll need: To become a management consultant you’ll need to hold at least a bachelor’s degree and may have to show evidence of leadership and business experience. Although no particular subject is essential, employers may look favorably upon graduates of business, economics, finance, mathematics, engineering and natural sciences, due to the wide-range of analytical skills typically gained within these subjects.

If you’re interested in undertaking a career in any of the roles listed above, consider enrolling on a related undergraduate degree program to get the best start to fulfilling your ambition. You can find out more at the QS World University Tour.

This article was originally published in September 2014. It was updated in April 2018.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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Thank you for sharing this info. Having a college degree can open a lot of possibilities. May I ask if you also write about tips on how to land a job after graduation? How about writing a resume? I asked this because I notice that many college graduates can't easily find a job. One of the many reasons is a poorly written resume. May I ask if you know some effective strategies on how to make a compelling resume? I read some articles about it but I think they lack some details: https://www.infotechresume.com/it-resume-for-new-graduates-2/, https://www.livecareer.com/career/advice/resume/5-tips-for-writing-your-fresh-graduate-resume, https://www.jobberman.com/blog/fresh-graduate-use-these-6-essential-tips-to-jumpstart-your-career/.

You know what, I used to work in the field of human resources management. I received a lot of job applications but looking at the resumes of different college graduates made me realize that there are many professionals who still don't know how to write a compelling resume that can accurately describe their skills and achievements in a strategic way. I look forward to reading more helpful articles on your site and will definitely share it with friends. Cheers to you for inspiring your readers!

My daughter completed 12th class with biology, physics and chemistry.She wants to pursue her undergraduate course in medicine.she has scored 95.5 % in 10th and 95.5% in 12th. Could you please guide me with the details of admission process and fee details!
Regards
Ranjan

Digital Marketing is also one of the highest paying jobs in the world and the industry is blooming nowadays..If you survive through the first few months of struggle this can pay you better than any of the jobs mentioned above.

This is very true