The College Degrees With The Fastest And Slowest Growing Salaries 2017

Dec 10, 2017 by

Jeff Kauflin –

If you’re looking for a new job, it’s easy to focus solely on starting salary in assessing financial potential. But different fields have vastly different rates of salary growth, and it’s equally important to consider longer-term prospects.

Compensation site PayScale shared data with Forbes on the college degrees with the fastest- and slowest-growing salaries. PayScale looked at median pay at the early-career stage (five years’ experience or less) and compared it with mid-career (10 years or more) levels. Median pay covers base salary, plus extra compensation like bonuses, profit sharing, tips and commissions. But it excludes stock-based compensation and the cash value of retirement benefits. More than 2 million college graduates were surveyed and 489 degrees were analyzed to create the ranking.

To see the top ten college degrees with the fastest-growing salaries, open the gallery below. For the top 25, in addition to the degrees with the slowest-growing salaries, go to the end of this article.


The 10 College Degrees With The Fastest-Growing Salaries 2017

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Petroleum engineering ranks first, as it did last year. The major’s early-career pay of $94,600 and mid-career pay of $175,500 beat out the second-ranked college degree on PayScale’s list by a wide margin—roughly $40,000. What do petroleum engineers do? They design and implement methods for extracting oil and gas from the earth. A job search on shows that the French oil-refining company Total is looking for a reservoir engineer in Houston. The job requires experience working in the Gulf of Mexico and expertise in software like Eclipse and MBal.

Actuarial mathematics has the second-fastest-growing salary, starting at $56,400 and reaching $131,700 at the mid-career stage. The field involves using mathematical models to assess risk in industries like insurance and finance. GEHA, a nonprofit association that provides health and dental insurance for federal government employees, is seeking an actuarial analyst in its western Missouri office. The position entails using financial models, spreadsheets and other software to measure risk and determine insurance prices.

Chemical engineering ranks fifth. According to Stanford University, chemical engineers “conceive and design processes to produce, transform and transport materials.” They work in a wide range of industries and functions, from creating adhesives used to hold car parts together, to developing manufacturing processes that prevent harmful chemicals, from being released into the environment.

Geophysics has the eighth-fastest-growing salary, with early-career pay of $54,100 and mid-career pay of $122,200. A geophysicist “studies the Earth using gravity, magnetic, electrical, and seismic methods,” according to the U.S. Geological Survey, a government agency. Some geophysicists get jobs in the oil and gas sector as engineers. Some study earthquakes and become seismologists, while others do land surveying for archaeologists and environmentalists.

The Top 25 College Degrees with the Fastest-Growing Salaries

continue: The College Degrees With The Fastest And Slowest Growing Salaries 2017

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