For all the money that students pay to earn their bachelors degrees, many wonder if it is worth it. Add to that all the time that must be invested in earning said degree, and some people have some serious doubts. Will they really make more money after earning a bachelor’s degree than they would’ve otherwise? Will they make enough to pay off any student loans they took on?

The short answer is ‘yes’… at least, on average.

If there’s anything you should take away from this article, it’s that, yes, bachelor’s degree-holders do make more money on average than those who have only a high school diploma or associate’s degree. The second thing you should remember is that some bachelor’s degrees will boost your salary more than others.Bachelors-Degree-Salary-Infographic


Bachelor’s Degrees Make More

One look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Education Pays” bar chart tells you that earning a bachelor’s degree will give your salary a nice bump. According to the chart, those who settle for a high school diploma can expect to make a median salary of $33,904. Those who go the full two years at a community college or the equivalent to earn an associate’s degree can expect a median salary of $40,820. That’s a pretty sweet increase! But if you go the additional two years to complete a bachelor’s degree, you’re looking at an almost-$15,000 increase in salary, all the way up to $55,432 median.

Keep in mind, of course, that these are just median figures (meaning they’re in the middle). Some individual associate’s degree-holders will end up making more than some bachelor’s degree-holders as other factors come into play. There is no guarantee that a graduate will make the median amount just because they have a bachelor’s degree.

One of the biggest factors that can determine how much a bachelor’s degree-holder will make seems to be their college major. There’s no doubt that some majors make much, much more than others.

Some Majors Make More

College students are attracted to their majors for a variety of reasons: ease of admission, interest in the topic, attractive classmates, etc. While none of these reasons should be underplayed, students should also be aware of how much workers in their field of choice end up making throughout their careers. Will they take on student loans only to find they don’t make enough to even pay those loans back? Will their future salary make the money spent on tuition a good investment and set them up for future prosperity?

Perhaps the logical first step is knowing which majors fare best and which ones, um, struggle. The folks at do a great job of tracking how much different majors make coming out of college and how they typically make mid-career. Those with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering seem to see opportunities open wide to them as soon as they leave campus, starting with a median salary of $98,000. Their earning potential continues to increase handsomely throughout their careers, with a median mid-career salary of $168,000. Compare that to the $45,300 median mid-career salary that social work majors might expect to make, and you start to see how drastically your major can affect your salary.

In the numbers, there seems to be a definite them. Engineering majors seem to do very well. Social sciences and education seem to get left in the dust.

So, can your bachelor’s degree be a door to huge opportunity for yourself and your family? Yes. Does it matter which major you take for your bachelor’s degree program? Absolutely. Make sure you do your homework before settling on any one major. With a little research, you can find a bachelor’s degree program that you love and that will pay you back in a big way.

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