These 8 Careers Are Worth the Price of College Admission

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by  | shared from Salary.com

Is College Still Worth the Money? Maybe.

As the cost of education continues to skyrocket and job prospects remain less than robust in a tough economy, the answer to the question, “What are you majoring in?” seems more important than ever.

There’s no getting around it. Education is expensive. A four-year degree at a public university costs, on average, $37,343, while an education at a private school will set you back $121,930. While statistics show that a college degree will undoubtedly open doors and increase your earning potential, you need to choose your degree carefully to ensure you’re making a wise investment.

Last week, we highlighted 8 college degrees with a poor return on investment. This week, we’ll head to the other end of the spectrum and show you 8 college degrees with great ROI (in no particular order), as well as some examples of jobs within each industry.

Methodology

To calculate ROI for a specific degree, we first determined the overall cost of the degree. We allowed the degree holder four years to graduate. Using data from a recent College Board study, we assigned a figure of $37,343 as an average cost of a four-year public liberal arts degree, and a figure of $121,930 for degrees earned at four-year private colleges. The total cost included tuition, room and board, and books, and did not factor in scholarships or grants. We then determined the median cash compensation over the course of 30 years of typical jobs requiring that degree using Salary.com data. We used current Salary.com figures, but added 4.3% per year to account for inflation and cost of living increases. To determine ROI, we subtracted the cost of the degree from the gains over 30 years, then divided that figure by cost.

8. Math

If you love crunching numbers and solving complex problems, there are lots of career options for math majors with a great ROI. But of course you don’t need me to do the math! Here are three jobs commonly held by math majors (click on job title and/or salary for more information):

ACTUARY II
Median Salary: $70,029
30-Year Earnings: $4,130,308
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 110%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 33%

OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYSIS MANAGER
Median Salary: $146,456
30-Year Earnings: $8,637,969
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 230%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 70%

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE/RECEIVABLE MANAGER
Median Salary: $76,241
30-Year Earnings: $4,496,691
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 119%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 36%

7. Information Technology

While the rest of us are happy when we find the computer’s “on” switch, IT majors actually know what’s going on inside. Here are three jobs commonly held by Information Technology majors:

WEB APPLICATIONS DEVELOPER
Median Salary: $80,584
30-Year Earnings: $4,752,841
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 126%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 38%

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE SPECIALIST
Median Salary: $109,604
30-Year Earnings: $6,464,440
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 172%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 52%

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGER
Median Salary: $107,578
30-Year Earnings: $6,344,946
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 169%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 51%

6. Human Resources

Human resources majors serve as the gatekeepers to organizations, reviewing resumes, managing the hiring and firing processes, and developing policies that ensure employees are happy, healthy, and productive. Here are three jobs commonly held by human resources majors:

COMPENSATION & BENEFITS MANAGER
Median Salary: $94,978
30-Year Earnings: $5,601,799
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 149%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 45%

RECRUITING MANAGER
Median Salary: $88,916
30-Year Earnings: $5,244,262
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 139%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 42%

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER
Median Salary: $87,184
30-Year Earnings: $5,142,109
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 137%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 41%

5. Economics

If you’re interested in how things are produced, distributed, and consumed, consider a major in economics. Three jobs held by economics majors include:

ECONOMIST (CORPORATE)
Median Salary: $115,671
30-Year Earnings: $6,822,271
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 182%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 55%

FINANCIAL ASSOCIATE II (CORPORATE)
Median Salary: $108,732
30-Year Earnings: $6,413,009
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 171%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 52%

INVESTMENT OPERATIONS MANAGER
Median Salary: $142,921
30-Year Earnings: $8,429,475
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 225%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 68%

4. Biology

If you’re fascinated with the natural world, you can use that passion to make a good living by choosing to study biology. Three jobs held by biology majors include:

LABORATORY MANAGER
Median Salary: $85,292
30-Year Earnings: $5,030,519
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 134%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 40%

CLINICAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATE II
Median Salary: $72,812
30-Year Earnings: $4,294,449
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 114%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 34%

HEALTH & SAFETY SUPERVISOR
Median Salary: $71,758
30-Year Earnings: $4,232,284
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 114%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 34%

3. Engineering

Were you the kid who drove your parents crazy taking the toasters apart and putting them back together? Engineering majors have excellent problem solving skills and a knack for developing products, devices, and systems. Three jobs held by engineering majors include:

CHEMICAL ENGINEER II
Median Salary: $75,225
30-Year Earnings: $4,436,768
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 118%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 35%

MECHANICAL ENGINEER II
Median Salary: $71,715
30-Year Earnings: $4,229,748
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 112%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 34%

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING SUPERVISOR II
Median Salary: $91,997
30-Year Earnings: $5,425,980
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 144%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 44%

2. Marketing

If you’re interested in why people make the decisions they do, have excellent leadership qualities and the ability to persuade, and could sell ice to Eskimos, then consider majoring in marketing. Three jobs held by marketing majors include:

MARKETING MANAGER
Median Salary: $86,591
30-Year Earnings: $5,107,134
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 136%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 41%

PRODUCT/BRAND MANAGER
Median Salary: $92,216
30-Year Earnings: $5,438, 896
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 145%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 44%

PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER
Median Salary: $86,127
30-Year Earnings: $5,079,767
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 135%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 41%

1. English

What could be better? For four years you do lots of writing and reading, you talk about writing and reading, then follow up with more writing and reading. Then, the sky’s the limit. Common jobs held by English majors include:

SPEECH WRITER
Median Salary: $78,011
30-Year Earnings: $4,601,086
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 122%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 37%

COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
Median Salary: $88,498
30-Year Earnings: $5,219,609
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 139%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 42%

CONTENT MANAGER — WEB
Median Salary: $79,674
30-Year Earnings: $4,699,170
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 125%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 38%

Make Your Money Count, But Do What You Love

When all is said and done, the best way to get the biggest bang for your education buck is to truly love what you do. But while few things contribute to your ultimate earning power like passion and excelling at what you do, it doesn’t hurt to know you’ll be able to pay off those college loans a little sooner!

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