According to a Forbes.com recent case study, the most lucrative college major today is computer engineering. On average, computer engineers with less than five years' experience earn $60,500 while those with 10-20 years' experience earn approximately $104,000 annually.
To rate the most lucrative majors, Forbes.com used PayScale.com, a site which collects real-time salary information from over 10 million users. They looked at 20 of the most popular majors where most of the graduates go into the private sector. They then used the average salaries of each major to eliminate outliers at the ends of the scales. Graduates with advanced degrees were excluded from the study.
A student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Four of the five highest paid majors for graduates with less than five years' experience were all in fields of engineering, with computer engineering ranking first and electrical engineering ranking third.
Despite the high pay, the number of engineering degrees awarded in the past 10 years has just slightly increased. One reason is that the programs tend to be very rigorous. Engineering students who can complete the coursework benefit highly from this - employers know they're typically getting competent people straight out of college and are willing to dole out generous salaries to compensate.
"The kinds of majors where you learn to integrate mathematics and science with the everyday world have a tremendous benefit in terms of earnings potential," says PayScale.com's Al Lee. These include economics, engineering, finance and mathematics.