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These college majors have the highest starting salaries

September 1, 2021, 11:00 PM UTC

Looking to boost your bank account right out of the gate when you graduate college? Consider blending the worlds of oil and technology.

A recent study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) looks at the top-earning majors for the class of 2020—and, as you might expect, the technology-centered ones top the list, with petroleum engineering leading the group. Graduates who earned a degree in the field had an average starting salary of $87,989 last year.

On the whole, 2020’s graduates were off to a better start than those who graduated in the two years before. The survey found the 2020 average salary of $55,260 was 2.5% above the class of 2019’s average starting salary of $53,889 and 8.5% higher than the Class of 2018’s average starting salary of $50,944.

“In some cases, salary increases most likely reflect these unique times,” says Shawn VanDerziel, NACE executive director in a statement. “For example, the increased demand for nurses as frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic may have fueled the 2.1% increase in the average starting salary for registered nursing majors, from $57,416 for these graduates from the Class of 2019 to $58,626 for Class of 2020 registered nursing graduates.”

Here’s a look at the majors that had the biggest starting salaries last year:

Petroleum engineering – $87,989

Computer programming – $86,098

Computer engineering – $85,996

Computer science – $85,766

Electrical, electronics, and communications engineering – $80,819

Operations research – $80,166

Computer and information science – $78,603

Statistics – $75,916

Applied mathematics – $73,558

Chemical engineering – $72,713

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