Degrees for Success

Posted: September, 30, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Some degrees just seem more geared for success than others. Because of the current job market, students with specific degrees are poised to earn more than their counterparts over the course of their lifetimes '“ and chemical engineering is at the top of this. According to a new study released from the Brookings Institution, chemical engineering students may earn more than $2 million over the course of their lifetime.

Other Successful Majors

However, chemical engineering isn't the only degree set to earn enormous amounts of money. Engineering in general makes up the top nine highest earning degrees, following chemical engineering in order: aerospace engineering, energy and extraction engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, industrial and manufacturing engineering, and general engineering.


Of those nine, the top four will earn most students more than $2 million over the course of their lifetime. The remaining engineering programs will earn more than $1.5 million over the course of their lifetimes.

However, the reverse also applies. Students with theater and other liberal arts degrees were near the bottom of the list, earning less than half a million dollars in their lifetime. Those without degrees, who held only a GED, came in at the bottom.

The ‘Average' Degree

According to the study, however, the ‘average' degree '“ any degree in particular '“ will earn an average of around $1.19 million in the span of a lifetime. This is around twice what a high school graduate without a degree earns, so the study makes one thing abundantly clear: the money lies in going to college.

Graduate Degrees


The study leaves does not take into account students who hold graduate degrees. This means that doctors, lawyers, college professors, and other traditionally high-paying careers are not included in the study. Because of this, many expected top-earning jobs did not register a place on the list. However, they typically out-earn even the highest earning engineering degree. Other studies are being conducted to find an average of what those with graduate degrees typically earn over their lifetimes.


One thing the study does not take into account is the outliers '“ those who defy expectations and go on to see phenomenal success. These outliers include independent authors, entrepreneurs, and others who break the societal status quo to earn millions and even billions within their lifespan. Because this happens so rarely, the statistics have little bearing on the actual study. However, the study averaged the amounts someone earns '“ particularly enterprising students have the potential to earn much, much more than even the highest dollar amount by employing creativity and ingenuity into their approach to their careers.

By JoAnne Williams
Founder, President and CEO

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