The Average Starting Salaries for 10 Popular College Degrees

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The most popular majors aren’t always the most lucrative. This doesn’t mean they’re not worth pursuing, but it might be a surprise to some how much the starting salaries are for the fields students are most likely to choose.

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Here are the most popular bachelor’s degrees, according to Niche, and how much someone just starting out can expect to bring home on average. 

Business and Management

  • Average Starting Salary: $58,869

The most popular degree earns the average person close to $60,000 just out of school. That’s pretty good, considering the median individual income for the United States was just over $30,000 in 2019. The most popular career paths with this degree are in sales, human resources, accounting and becoming an entrepreneur.

Nursing

  • Average Starting Salary: $72,249

A degree in nursing can bring in anywhere from $58,000-92,000, with most falling right around the $70,000 mark according to Salary.com. Factors that affect salary are location, certifications and what type of healthcare the nurse specialized in. California and Hawaii top the list of places where nurses can make the most money.

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Psychology

  • Average Starting Salary: $48,562

Graduates with a bachelor’s in the third most popular major earns about $23.35 an hour on average. Sunnyvale, CA is cited as the city where graduates can make the most with a degree in Psychology at $58,843 — but most positions will earn just under $50,000. As far as specialization, the field of Experimental Psychology is projected to bring in the most money. If this number sounds low in comparison to what you imagined therapists and other clinicians make, it’s important to remember that doing psychotherapeutic work requires at least a master’s degree. 

Biology

  • Average Starting Salary: $54,685

Those starting out with a Biology degree often take jobs as a lab technician, or an associate scientist and make just over $50,000 a year. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, a person could expect to make about $100,000 at the height of their career. These positions are typically jobs where someone would lead a department, like Head of Molecular Biology.

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Engineering

  • Average Starting Salary: $71,088

Getting a degree in Engineering can bring in a nice paycheck at just over $70,000. Typical first jobs depend on what type of engineering was studied, but might include mechanical engineer, materials engineer, electrical engineer or chemical engineer.

Education

  • Average Starting Salary: $56,484

Depending on which grade level teachers educate, they can, on average, expect to make anywhere from $55,000 for elementary education to $58,000 for high school education. Though typically, those with an Education degree work in schools, there’s also the opportunity to lead educational efforts for non-profits and other educational outlets.

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Communications

  • Average Starting Salary: $58,174

Comparable to a degree in Business and Management, a degree in Communications could earn graduates a starting salary close to $60,000. Those with a Communications degree have a wide range of opportunities open to them, including jobs in public relations, advertising, and fundraising.

Accounting

  • Average Starting Salary: $47,482

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Accounting brings in just under $50,000 for a starting salary. This comes out to about $23 an hour. Job titles include Accounting Clerk, Accounting Assistant and Administrative Accounting Support.

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Finance

  • Average Starting Salary: $60,851

Someone with a bachelor’s degree in Finance will earn right around $60,000 for a first job, on average. These types of jobs include Financial Analyst and Financial Advisor. Working the way up the ladder can pay off. An SVP of Finance is said to make $165,781 on average.

Criminal Justice

  • Average Starting Salary: $50,997

Rounding out the top 10 most popular degrees is  Criminal Justice. On average, graduates in this major bring in $50,000  during their first year of employment. Some entry level jobs include CIA Analyst, Paralegal, and Crime Laboratory Analyst.

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Last updated: Sep. 22, 2021

About the Author

Sam DiSalvo is an LA-based comedian, writer and actor who's performed all over the country. Her written work has appeared in numerous digital publications. As a copywriter, she's worked with a variety of major brands including GoldieBlox and Thrive Causemetics. Sam loves dogs and is currently perusing leisure suits to buy for her corgi mix, Barry

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