The highest-paying jobs you can get with a bachelor's degree

Derek Silva


Derek Silva

Derek Silva

Senior Editor & Personal Finance Expert

Derek is a former senior editor and personal finance expert at Policygenius, where he specialized in financial data, taxes, estate planning, and investing. Previously, he was a staff writer at SmartAsset.

Published August 12, 2019 | 4 min read

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Featured Image The highest-paying jobs you can get with a bachelor's degree

More young adults are pursuing higher education than ever before. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.1% of adults age 25 and over have a bachelor’s degree, a number that’s been on the rise since 2009. Having a four-year degree can open you up to more, and potentially high-earning, career options.

Over one in five jobs require workers to have a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average national salary of these jobs is $82,867, which is over $20,000 more per year than the average salary of jobs that only require an associate’s degree. (We have also looked at well-paying jobs you can get with an associate’s degree.)

Whether you are looking for a career change or just starting out in the working world, here are 10 of the highest-paying jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree.

1. Personal financial advisors

Financial advisors guide clients on their financial plans, including help with taxes, investments, retirement savings and estate planning.

Personal financial advisors earn an average salary of $121,770. Employment for advisors is also expected to grow 15% though 2026. Whether you’re looking to become a financial advisor or just work with one, here’s how to decide which type of financial advisor is right for you.

2. Petroleum engineer

Though the number of green jobs is on the rise, oil and gas are still very much a part of the global economy. Petroleum engineers, who work to improve the extraction and production of oil and gas, make an average of $156,370 annually. Their career field is expected to grow 15% through 2026.

Engineering is a lucrative and in-demand field in general. Civil engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, industrial engineers and mechanical engineers all earn an average of at least $93,000 annually. Engineering jobs are projected to see growth of at least 8%.

3. Actuary

If you like working with data, you may enjoy life as an actuary. Actuaries largely work with life insurance and other insurance companies to determine proper interest rates. Math and software development skills are particularly useful for this job. Actuaries earn an average salary of $116,250 and the BLS forecasts high employment growth of 23% between 2016 and 2026.

(Policygenius can also help you to understand and compare life insurance quotes.)

4. Software developers

If you’re a tech geek who enjoys building something from the ground up, this career may be for you. Software developers who work with general computer applications and software make an average $108,080 annually. They are also in high demand: Employment is projected to grow 31% from 2016 to 2026.

5. Geoscientist

Geoscientists study the composition, structure and physical aspects of the Earth. That may include working with oil, gas, underground water, the oceans and the atmosphere. Specific careers within this field include mineralogist, paleontologist or seismologist.

Geoscientists make $107,800 per year. They’re also expected to see employment growth of 14% through 2026.

6. Atmospheric and space scientist

Atmospheric and space scientists earn an average salary of $95,580 and have projected employment growth of 12% through 2026. It’s also considered a green job, which means you can help take part in the conservation and protection of the planet.

Some common job titles you may see with this occupation are meteorologist, atmospheric scientist, climatologist, hurricane tracker and weather analyst.

7. Film and video editor

Those with a flair for the arts may want to become a film and video editor. Beyond just editing, this job may also include work with soundtracks and music editing software. This career path has a projected job growth of 17% through 2026. The average salary is $86,830 nationally.

8. Registered nurse

Registered nurses enjoy a relatively high income and good job prospects. The average national salary for a registered nurse is $75,510 and employment growth is projected at 15%.

As a nurse, there’s diversity in what your day-to-day will look like. It’s possible to work in a hospital’s emergency department, in the operating room or as a school nurse. You can also help people through the daunting (but really not all that bad) process of their life insurance medical exam.

9. Forensic science technician

Do you spend all day watching Law and Order or CSI: Crime Scene Investigation? You may want to look into a career as a forensic science technician — they assist criminal investigations by identifying and analyzing evidence from crime scenes.

The average annual salary for a forensic science technician is $62,490. Job growth is also projected to grow 17% from 2016 to 2026.

10. Airline pilot, copilot or flight engineer

As an airline pilot, you have the chance to earn an average $169,560 annually. Employment growth is only projected at 3% from 2016 to 2026, but the high salary and the chance to live in the clouds may make that point irrelevant for some people.

On the hunt for a new job? Here’s where to look.

All data is based off of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Image: M Studio Images