Top 15 Most Useful Degrees: The Best Degrees to Major in (2024 Guide)
Finding a well-paying job after graduating college or university is not a sure thing anymore.
Many more people have a degree than used to, so competition for jobs can be strong. Simply earning a degree may no longer be enough.
A post-secondary education can come with a big price tag, so it is important to know that you will get out of it what you are putting in.
Therefore, choosing a course of study that will put you on a good career path is essential.
This article will discuss the most employable degrees to major in, as understanding the most useful degrees in demand can assist you in making an informed decision about the best fit for your educational path.
There are several reasons that you should ensure you are choosing the right field of study.
Not all degrees will result in the same outcome.
You are committing to focusing a large part of your life in this study area/career, so you want to ensure it is worth it overall.
Think carefully about the money you are putting into your degree and whether you will make that money back after graduation. Not every degree will offer the same monetary gains.
Anyone pursuing a degree hopes for a job or career at the end of their studies.
However, simply obtaining a degree now does not always guarantee employment.
You need a degree that is in demand and that reflects the current economy and job vacancies.
While some people may go back to school later in life and some can afford to do multiple degrees, most people can and will only do one.
Therefore, it is importan to choose well the first time.
A good salary is one of the top reasons to earn a degree, but there are other reasons to consider too.
You want to consider a degree that will offer both employability and stability because its subject is in-demand and the degree teaches you the practical skills to begin work or further training in that area.
It is also important to find satisfaction in your career.
If you end up with a great degree that is in demand but causes you to dread going to work each day, it may not be the right fit for you.
Try to find a good balance in something you enjoy but is also a marketable degree.
The STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) are typically thought to be the most useful studies to pursue. They are still highly in demand, but other areas should not be discounted.
While as standalone degrees studies in the humanities may not lead to a high paying job, the information you learn and the skills you acquire can be beneficial in further education and through helping you develop transferable skills.
To help in your choice, this article will go in to the top 15 degrees most likely to land you a well-paying job – in other words, the top 15 most useful degrees.
There are so many areas of study it can be difficult to know where you will have career and monetary success. Here are 15 subject areas that are hot right now.
What you need: A strong understanding of math and logic, alongside a great appreciation of computers and interestd in how they work.
What it pays: A 2020 median income of $127,000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Future outlook: Growth of 15% by 2029.
For many, a computer science degree is desirable because there are so many careers in which your degree can be used.
Computer science can cover many different areas from programming to design, gaming to website creation or even artificial intelligence. It even covers cyber security, mobile applications, and data science.
With most of the world relying on computers to run, the field has increased in popularity with those seeking a degree.
The field of computer science offers a lot of room for growth. Technology is always evolving so there is always something new to learn and add to your resume.
What you need: A good understanding of math and life science. You should also have effective communication skills as well as being empathetic and quick on your feet, with strong attention to detail.
What it pays: A 2020 median income of $75,000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Future Outlook: 7% increase by 2029.
Now, more than ever, the field of health care is in high demand.
While doctors top the list, nurses can also bring home a good salary with less schooling and debt.
Registered nurses provide a wide variety of patient care. They maintain patient health records, liaise with the patient, monitor and record patients' issues and administer medication to a degree.
Nursing also offers other paths.
You could be a nurse at a hospital, a retirement home, school or large corporation. You may want to branch out into research or take more of a business side and investigate management roles.
Nursing is also a job that can allow for a lot of movement. Nurses are needed anywhere, so the chance to move or travel is always there.
What you need: A bachelor’s degree is necessary to get your JD, and a JD is needed for higher level degrees.
What is pays: A 2020 median income of $127,000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: A growth of 4% by 2029.
There plenty of behind-the-scenes work for those who prefer to work alone, and trial opportunities for those who like to be seen.
Being a practicing lawyer is something that cannot be replaced by technology. While technology can help in a big way, the legal system still needs real people to prosecute and defend.
There are a series of law degrees you can earn to progress your law career and related degrees for those who do not want to be lawyers:
- Juris Doctor – Most practicing lawyers in the US have a JD degree. It is the first law degree, accredited by The American Bar Association, and the most offered one through law schools. You must hold a bachelor’s degree and have passed the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
- Master of Laws – The Master of Laws (LLM) degree is done over one or two years and is for students who already have a law degree and want to specialize into various kinds of law.
- Doctor of Judicial Science – This degree (the SJD) is considered the highest level of a law degree and is for those who have already earned the JD or LLM. The program consists of seminars and one-on-one research with law professors.
- Master of Legal Studies – The MLS is for those who want to know and understand the law but do not want to be a lawyer. Graduates from this program tend to work in law enforcement, business and human resources.
- Master of Dispute Resolution – The MDR degree allows you to work in providing resolution, mediation and negotiation skills.
Those with a law degree can choose from many diverse types of law to practice. If choosing not to practice law, opportunities are also available in business, government, education and many other fields.
What you need: A strong understanding of sciences including biology and chemistry, as well as math.
What is pays: A 2020 median average of $129,000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: A small 3% decline until 2029 but still a stable career choice.
A degree in pharmacy is a strong bet.
Many schools offer a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical studies and others offer a Doctor of Pharmacy.
Graduates can choose to work as clinical researchers, at cosmetic companies or in government organizations that monitor drugs and cosmetics.
Those who pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam and state pharmacy licensure exam, as well as earning a doctorate in pharmacy, can work as pharmacists.
This can be in drug stores, hospitals and other health care facilities. You will fill prescriptions and advise patients on proper medication use. You can also choose to work for government agencies such as Medicaid.
What you need: A bachelor’s degree and accreditation from a recognized teaching college or university.
What is pays: A 2020 median income of $64,000 for high school teachers (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: An increase of 4% by 2029.
The world will always need more teachers; education remains a fundamental part of society.
Many graduates secure employment soon after graduating, although some pursue further education.
Depending on your focus of your degree, there are many different jobs you can find. You can teach elementary, secondary, preschool or even be a professor.
Teachers have excellent job rewards, with holidays, time off during the school year and summers off when kids are out of school.
Your education degree can also be used outside of schools in publishing or the government.
What you need: A strong understanding of math including algebra, calculus and statistics.
What it pays: A 2020 median salary of $92,000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: A growth of 33% by 2029.
Earning a degree in mathematics provides you with many skills beyond the mathematical – you will learn to prove or disprove concepts and how to apply theory to real world problems.
Mathematics degrees offer many different employment opportunities.
Graduates can branch out into finance, economics, information technology or even teaching.
The most popular careers for those with a mathematics degree include economist, actuary, physicist, market research analyst and financial analyst, among others.
What you need: A love of animals and strong knowledge of biology, math and science.
What it pays: A 2020 median of $99,000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: A growth of 16% by 2029.
There will always be a need for veterinarians because of the universality of animals.
The study of veterinary medicine can be a long one but rewarding.
Graduates have a selection of choices when deciding what to do with their degree.
When most people think of a veterinarian, they think of the one who treats their cat or dog.
Most of these vets work in small clinics and may even make house calls. Some specialize in smaller animals such as hamsters or guinea pigs.
Large animal veterinarians spend more of their time visiting farms to tend to horses, cows and other farm animals. They may also be found at racetracks tending to racehorses.
Veterinary technicians work as assistants to the veterinarian by running tests, prepping animals, trimming nails and weighing animals. Veterinary techs can also specialize in areas such as dentistry.
Zoo veterinarians work in zoos treating exotic animals.
They must have a wider variety of animal knowledge as well as further schooling. You must have four years of veterinary school, three-year residency and a year-long internship. Fewer schools teach zoo veterinarians.
Some graduates choose not to work with animals and turn their attention to research. They work on things that are consumed by animals, food safety and inspection.
What you need: A good understanding of math, science, technology as well as good computer skills.
What it pays: A 2020 median of $88,570–108,540 depending on speciality (US Bureau of Labor Statistics for civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers).
Future outlook: 4% rise by 2029.
Engineering graduates are always in high demand.
This is largely because engineering covers a wide area, and the specialties can differ a lot.
Electrical engineering focuses on designing and developing electrical equipment before then testing it and getting the product to production. Engineers can also work reparing existing systems.
Designing and manufacturing machines and products is left to mechanical engineers. Mechanical engineering is a broad field, covering aviation, medical devices, turbines and even household items such as refrigerators.
Civil engineering is one of the oldest and most recognized types of engineering. Civil engineers work on infrastructure for cities and towns including roads, buildings, bridges, subways and more.
There are many more types of engineers including aerospace, chemical, environmental, marine and software. You have many options if choosing to become an engineer.
What you need: A particularly good understanding in math and computers.
What it pays: Overall, business and financial occupations had a 2020 median wage of $72,250, with financial managers rising above with $134,180 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: Growth of 15% by 2029.
Finance graduates have many paths they can take with their degree.
These paths can take you to public, corporate or personal finance with many options in all three.
A Bachelor of Finance is the most basic degree needed to pursue a career in finance and will take four years to complete.
A master’s degree in finance will build on the skills already learned and takes two years to complete.
A doctorate in finance is the last stop and allows you to become a financial researcher or instructor, as well as opening up any position in the finance field.
What it takes: A bachelor's degree is always the start in a humanities career; further qualifications may be necessary for specific areas.
What it pays: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 PR specialists had a median salary of $62,810, historians $63,100, anthropoligists and archaeologists $66,130 and sociologists $86,110.
Future outlook: Job market growth by 2029 varies from 3–7% depending on area.
While humanities and social science degrees are not necessarily associated with well-paying jobs, the skills they teach can be beneficial in other jobs or degrees.
The communication skills, critical thinking abilities and writing skills are useful in graduate programs such as master’s or MBAs.
Areas of study include philosophy, literature, art, politics, law, archaeology and anthropology.
Humanities and social science graduates have gone on to careers in advertising, editing, event planning, history, library science, lobbying, public relations, social work and more.
What you need: Creativity, some drawing ability and good technical and computer skills.
What it pays: A 2020 median annual income of $82,320 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: A growth of 1%.
New buildings are always going to be planned and built; therefore, architectures and builders will always be needed.
By studying the areas of art, science, technology and math, architecture degrees can be used in many ways.
Architects develop a lot of useful skills that can be used in their field of study or in many other jobs should they choose. These skills include creativity, drawing, designing, math skills, attention to detail and communication.
Architects can choose to work in residential or commercial areas or even government departments.
Beyond these areas, architecture degree holders can work in graphic design, interior design, restoration and project management, to name a few.
What you need: A bachelor’s degree before medical and dental school. Then you need a good score on your MCAT to get into medical school or the Dental Admission Test to head into dentistry.
What it pays: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a 2020 median income of over $200,000 for doctors and $164,000 for dentists.
Future outlook: An increase of 3–4% by 2029.
People will always need care for their bodies, so medical specialists are always in demand.
While both medicine and dentistry require many years of study, they both result in an almost 100% chance of landing a job or further study within 6 months of graduation.
There are too many specialties in medicine to count.
You could choose family medicine and treat an array of patient and ailments. You may choose a specialty such as ears, nose and throat, gastrointestinal or orthopedics.
You may also desire to further your education and be a surgeon, go into medical research or teach.
Dentists too have options, such as endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, pediatric dentistry and more.
What you need: A good understanding of math and economics.
What it pays: The average salary is highly variable due to the wide range of options available, but overall the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found a median salary of $62,000, with management analysts earning $87,000 and purchasing managers $125,000.
Future outlook: Overall, jobs for business graduates have a 2% expected rise by 2029.
Business graduates will always be needed in many industries to ensure businesses run well.
Business graduates can find roles in human resources, management, consulting, finance, economics, marketing and much more.
What you need: A strong understanding of science and to head on to gain a master's degrees.
What it pays: A 2020 median income of $86,000 for genetic counselors (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: An increase of 21% by 2029.
As medicine advances, people with a degree in genetics are more in demand.
Genetics graduates can provide people with answers about what may affect their health in the future.
Careers for genetics graduates include pharmacology, science research, genetics counselling among others.
What you need: The desire to help someone and a good understanding of the human body, and then to go on to get a medical degree.
What it pays: A 2020 median income of $91,000 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Future outlook: An increase of 18% by 2029.
Physical therapy can be a great area of study for those who want to help others. They primarily provide therapy services to those in need due to injury or medical conditions.
Physical therapists may create treatment plans for their patients to help get them moving well again, work on treatments and assist with pain management and follow up with further care.
Even if everything has happened the way you planned, you may not yet be earning as much as you wanted or expected. There can be a few reasons why:
Your school – Some schools simply impress hiring committees more than others. Whatever the reason, be sure to look at the hiring statistics from any school you are interested in before applying.
Your location – It is highly likely that those who accept jobs in big cities are going to earn more than those in small towns. It will also vary depending on the type of organization you are working for. Big or small, public or private, all these business attributes play a role in income.
Your debt – If you have graduated with a large amount of debt, like many, you may have to being paying it back as you start work. That chunk of money leaving your account every month will be noticeable and will reduce your take-home pay.
The choice of degree you should pursue depends on your interests, career goals, and the field you want to work in. Since you're interested in audit jobs, particularly in the field of accounting and auditing, a degree in accounting or a related field is typically the most direct and relevant choice.
A degree is an academic qualification or credential that individuals earn after successfully completing a specific course of study at a university, college, or other educational institution. Degrees are typically awarded to signify a level of knowledge, expertise, and proficiency in a particular field of study or discipline.
A bachelor's degree provides a broad foundation in a specific field. Career options include entry-level positions in various industries, such as business, healthcare, education and more.
A master's degree offers advanced knowledge and specialization in a particular field. It can lead to more specialized and senior roles in your chosen profession.
Different degrees open up various career opportunities, which depend on your chosen career path.
The "best" degree to get depends on your individual interests, career goals, and personal strengths. What's most important is to choose a degree that aligns with your passions and aspirations.
Choosing a major for your undergraduate degree is an important decision that should align with your interests, career goals and personal strengths.
Here are some degrees that often lead to high earning potential:
Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.D.M. or D.D.S.) Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.): Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.): Doctor of Optometry (O.D.): Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.): Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.): Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Master of Science in Computer Science (M.S. in CS) Master of Science in Engineering (M.S. in Engineering) Juris Doctor (J.D.) Ph.D. in Economics Ph.D. in Engineering: Ph.D. in Computer Science Ph.D. in Finance
You may feel that you are all set for a post secondary education. You have your tuition figured out, you have found a place to live and you are ready.
But unless you have done the most important thing, carefully chosen your future degree, you are not ready.
Deciding what to study or what to major in can be the most important thing you do for your career. It is important to weight all the variables, look at the economy, look at who is hiring and consider what the future looks like.
It is also very important to factor in your own satisfaction. If you do not feel good about what you are doing, it may not be worth it.
Do your homework and look at what is strong right now and likely to be in the future, and you will make the right decision about the best degree to get.