College is a big expense. It's important to have an idea about your earning potential once you get your degree—and it's not always easy to guess.

There’s a large range of salaries across majors. Here are some of the most popular major fields and sample median salaries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These salaries are the median from employees across the country. Remember that averages are representative of salaries of all people who have that job title and don’t take into account location or years of experience. Averages provide a jumping off point into understanding how much you could make in that field.

Talking with mentors and working with the career services department in your school can help you get a better idea about entry-level salaries. Another way to explore majors and their salary potential is through My College Plan. Keep in mind, while some majors may offer higher salaries, they may also require advanced degrees, which can be an added expense.

Here are the median salaries for a range of professions in the six most popular undergraduate majors, representing a range of careers and interests. Some of these professions will require additional degrees or certifications.

1. Health Professions:

  • MRI Tech: $74,700
  • Registered Nurse (RN): $89,010
  • Respiratory Therapist: $74,310
  • Sonographer: $84,410

Health professions are a growing field and anticipated to expand in the next decade. While many of these careers require advanced degrees, there are plenty of well-paying jobs—such as a medical assistant or radiologic technologist—that don’t. In fact, some only may not require a four-year degree and require a certification that takes 1-2 years to complete. The median annual wage for healthcare professionals with a four-year degree or certificate is also higher than average at $75,040.

2. Psychology

  • Human Resource Manager: $145,750
  • Marketing Analyst: $78,880
  • Psychologist: $96,190
  • Social worker: $59,440

A psychology background can lend itself to a host of careers across different fields, including jobs in marketing or human resources. These paths may have entry-level salaries lower than the median to start but have room for salary growth without going back to school. Salaries for psychology professionals, such as therapists and counselors, will depend on a range of factors, including location and advanced degrees. In general, mental health professionals working in private practice will make more than those working in nonprofits or community-based health initiatives.

3. Biological and Biomedical Sciences

  • Environmental Scientist: $83,820
  • Biochemist: $114,740
  • Biological technician: $53,560
  • Microbiologist: $88,950

Medical science is a field that’s expected to grow 17% in the next 10 years. A popular starting career is working in a lab as a clinical laboratory technologist. These opportunities may pay on the lower end of salary medians, depending on whether the employer is public, nonprofit, or private, but there are often opportunities to move up available. Another option toward making a higher salary as you grow your biomedical career is by pursuing a master’s degree or PhD in a related field, such as epidemiology.

4. Social Sciences and History

  • Historian: $72,900
  • Paralegal: $62,840
  • Political Scientist: $126,140
  • Sociologist: $101,310

There are career opportunities across the board for folks who major in social sciences and history—with a wide range of salaries. Some, like being a paralegal, have consistent mid-range salaries right from the start. With others, like public relations, salaries can start on the low side but have higher earning potential as you build your career.

5. Business

  • Accountant: $86,740
  • Financial Analyst: $116,770
  • Insurance Underwriter: $82,990
  • Marketing Specialist: $78,880

Business careers have a wide range of salaries, depending on where you live, which company you work for, and your roles and responsibilities. Keep in mind that while a business path doesn’t necessarily require an advanced degree, careers that require certain certifications (such as accounting) may offer higher starting salaries.

6. Engineering

  • Chemical Engineer: $117,820
  • Civil Engineer: $97,380
  • Engineering Technician: $64,370
  • Health and Safety Engineer: $103,570

Engineering is another high-growth field that, in many entry-level roles, only requires a bachelor’s degree. Starting salaries for engineering majors can be close to six figures, and income growth is dependent on experience, employer, and education. Typically, specialized roles will pay more, while more general roles, such as technicians or technical recruiters may have an income cap.

No matter your major, your salary path is unique to you. Median incomes can give you a sense of salary expectations, but your actual salary will depend on your educational background, your location, the company you work for, and your talent. Becoming familiar with people in your industry and talking about salary paths can help you create a map for your financial future.

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