Here's a little secret: Absolutely any degree can lead to a lucrative career if you know what to do with it. This counts for English, theater, art, and engineering majors alike. However, choosing a more lucrative degree can give you a clearer, straighter path toward a high-earning job. While the humanities will require more creativity and ambition to make good money, other degrees can provide a shortcut.
Whether you're pursuing your undergraduate degree now, you've been out of college for years, or you're considering going back, take a closer look at your degree's earning potential. Choosing the right degree can be just as important as choosing the right school, as reported by U.S. News & World Report. Are you on the right track?
The thing about an engineering degree is that it has so many variables, and hopefully you're able to specialize in a certain field. From software engineering to chemical engineering, your starting wage can range from the 30s to six figures. Check out Business Insider's list of the best engineering schools, but don't discount a degree in a niche that pays well. After all, there are a lot of software engineers out there, but how many telecommunications engineers are there? Scarcity equals higher pay.
2. Technical writing
There's a strong emphasis on the word technical here. As every company realizes it needs quality documentation and written communication, technical writers who specialize in industries like engineering or medicine or approaches like search engine optimization are raking in the big bucks. In fact, Marquette University gives an excellent overview of why writing is important, and it will just continue to gain in power during the digital era.
There's a reason so many people go back to school for their MBA, but getting an undergraduate degree in business is a great start. It's the age of the startup, and if you have hopes of starting a company or achieving executive status, you need to know finance, communication, how to give a presentation--basically everything you learn in B school.
4. A specialty science
Whether astronomy or physics, if you choose a specialty science that only welcomes a few students per year, you can guarantee you'll be in high demand. You can work in the field, as a professor (and score tenure one day), or as a researcher. While, of course, it's not guaranteed you'll make a lot of money, you instantly set yourself apart by your rarity.
Those with a medical degree (MD) have a much higher average income than lawyers (those with a JD). However, how much you make depends on your practice and specialty. For example, if you're constantly on call and have to pay major premiums for your malpractice insurance, your hourly rate is actually pretty low. However, if you go into a field like dermatology and work for a hospital, your hours are usually similar to banker's hours and the hospital will take care of your insurance.
Pro tip: There's a big difference between a premed who doesn't go on to medical school and an actual MD. Premed students who stop at the undergraduate level aren't much better off than their "general studies" peers.
Finally, an often overlooked degree is one in language. Being multilingual is increasingly important, and you may be able to command a higher salary in any field you choose. Ultimately, this can also lead to more travel, job offers overseas, and the kind of exciting life that most people only dream of. If you're already bilingual, you're ahead of the curve.