Getting a degree is essential for starting in most careers. However, as the cost of higher education continues to increase, students and parents are now being forced to evaluate whether the course they choose will have a significant return on the investment. Otherwise, if the bachelor’s degree offers a low average starting salary, one might be left overburdened by students’ loans for many years.
Ideally, your choice of a bachelor’s degree should align with your interests and allow you to earn a decent salary to improve your quality of life or support your desired lifestyle. Therefore, it is important to figure out which degree program is within your interest area and pay you off the most.
This article will discuss the benefits of acquiring a bachelor’s degree and highlight some of the highest paying degrees.
Benefits of a Bachelor’s Degree In Your Chosen Field
Whatever field you decide to go into, there are several benefits of getting a bachelor’s degree. These include:
Increases Access to Job Opportunities
Many jobs require a minimum bachelor’s degree. According to a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 57% of all median wages are earned by bachelor degree holders.
A bachelor’s degree gives you access to opportunities and gives you flexibility in choosing the type of work you would like to do. In most cases, a given course qualifies you for different jobs.
Equips You with Specialized Skills for Your Career
As the world continues to evolve, there is an increase in demand for specialized job market skills. Getting a bachelor’s degree in a specific area will help you learn the necessary skills to be an expert in the area.
It Gives You a Competitive Advantage
With so many people looking for jobs, having a bachelor’s degree helps you stand out to potential employers.
Increases Your Earning Potential
According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the higher your level of education, the more you’re likely to earn. There is a striking earning difference between people with a bachelor’s degree and those that do not have. On average, bachelor’s degree holders make an average of $60,996 per year will associate degree holders earn $43,472 per year.
Offers an Opportunity for Networking
In today’s job market, it is essential to build and maintain professional networks. In the course of your bachelor’s degree, you will encounter other students who will go on to establish themselves as reputable professionals in your industry. You will also meet professors who might become your mentors and coaches. Also, by taking advantage of job fairs and career development resources that your university organizes, you will network with potential employers in your industry.
Serves as a Stepping Stone for Your Career Advancement
To pursue postgraduate-level education, you first need to have completed an undergraduate degree in the given field.
It Is an Avenue for Personal Development
In addition to learning technical skills in your field, pursuing a bachelor’s degree will keep you with numerous other skills. These include communication and public speaking, presentation skills, analytical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and time management. These skills will help you build your character, and they will come in handy in your professional life.
Highest Paid Bachelor Degree Jobs
The following are some of the highest-paying bachelor’s degrees:
As evidenced by the list of the highest paying occupations on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, a bachelor’s degree in medicine offers numerous career opportunities with a median annual income of over $200,000. These include:
- Obstetricians and gynecologists
- Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
- General internal medicine physicians
- Family medicine physicians
The Occupational Outlook Handbook also lists several other medicine-related professions that pay over $100,000 annually, including:
- Nurse anesthetists
Entry Requirements for Medical School
In the US, the stakes for joining medical school are quite high. A medicine bachelor’s is considered a second-entry college degree, and you’d have to complete a first undergraduate degree in a science-related course before applying to med school.
Most American medical schools have particular course requirements for the pre-med undergraduate course. These requirements include:
- One -year college biology laboratory
- One year general college chemistry with laboratory
- A minimum of 24 semester hours in biology and chemistry.
- A minimum of six semester hours in mathematics (calculus or statistics)
- Minimum 8 semester hours in general college physics with laboratory
After graduating with your entry-level bachelor’s degree, you must undertake and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) exams. This is a multi-choice examination created by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and it takes seven and half hours to complete.
The examination tests four main areas:
- Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems
- Biological biochemical foundations of living systems
- Psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior
- Critical analysis and reasoning skills
During the enrollment process, medical schools will also require certificates of your high school diploma, letters of recommendation, and good TOEFL language schools. For your high school, medical school enrollment requires a high overall GPA (3.5 and above), science GPA, and non-science GPA. The requirement for your first undergraduate degree is a minimum of 3.0GPA.
Some medical schools may also be interested in knowing who you are and your reasons for becoming a physician. As such, during the interview process, you may be required to write an essay or discuss your exposure to the medical field either through volunteer work, working in a healthcare setting, or community service in the medical field.
The first two years of medical schools are dedicated to theoretical study and laboratory work for students to gain knowledge and skills in diagnosing and treating diseases. Towards the end of the second year, students take the first part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners.
In the final two years, students begin to do clinic and hospital rotation and work with attending physician to get practical training in medicine. In the final year, the students sit for the second part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination.
Once you have been admitted to med school, a medicine bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. In the first three years, you cover general medicine, and in the last year, students get an opportunity to specialize based on their interests.
Medical school graduates are then placed into residency programs through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), where they work in medical training alongside other healthcare practitioners. A residency takes 3-7 years to complete depending on your area of specialization
Upon completing your residency, you can take a fellowship program that lasts 1 to 2 years, focusing on a sub-specialization. This is a great option if you are looking to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
To work in any capacity, you need to be licensed in the state where you work. The procedure and requirements for licensing differ according to your area of specialization and state. You will be required to undertake regular recertification to retain your license.
On average, lawyers make $122,960 per year, with medical lawyers, intellectual property lawyers, trial lawyers, and tax attorneys being among the highest-paid.
How to Become a Lawyer
To become a lawyer in the US, you must have a law degree and pass bar examinations, which take a total of 7 years.
Education Requirements to Become a Lawyer
First, you should complete a four-year undergraduate course with English, public speaking, history, mathematics, government, or any other area of interest. You then apply to join law school for a three-year program. Most states require that lawyers join a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). A school that the ABA accredits meets the set standards for the curriculum and faculty.
Typically, ABA-accredited law schools require applicants to undertake and pass the Law School Admission Tests (LSAT) to measure one’s aptitude for studying law.
The Juris Doctor (J.D) law School program covers the following:
- Constitutional law
- Property law
- Civil procedures
- Legal writing
- And specialized courses such as tax, corporate law, and labor, among others
Upon completing law school, prospective lawyers must take licensing exams referred to as the bar exam. Once you pass the exams and get a license, you are then admitted to the bar.
Individual states may have specific requirements for admission to the bar as indicated in the National Conference of Bar Examiners. If you want to work in more than one state, you will be required to take bar exams in each and every state that you’ll be working in.
To retain your license, law schools require local bar associates to continue undertaking legal education courses. While some are offered in the physical law School, others can be undertaken online.
To get started in their careers, law school graduates work alongside experienced lawyers. Afterward, some lawyers opt to start their own law firms or to join legal departments of major corporations.
Electrical and electronic engineering and petroleum engineering are among the highest-paid bachelor’s degrees engineering programs with an annual median age of $101,250 and $137,720. Other engineering types such as mechanical, civil, and telecommunication follow closely though at less than $100,000 annually.
How to Become an Engineer
Engineering employs scientific and mathematical principles to solve technical problems. To apply to an engineering school, you need to have a strong mathematics and sciences background and a high overall GPA. You should also have critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, as well as being a team player and an excellent communicator.
Different engineering schools offer a wide range of engineering courses, including:
- Electrical and electronic engineering
- Chemical engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Telecommunication engineering
- Civil engineering
- Aeronautical engineering
- Computer engineering
- Nuclear engineering
- Biomedical engineering
- Oceanic engineering
- Environmental Engineering among others
Engineering bachelor’s degree courses usually take five years and incorporate classroom sessions, laboratory work, and field studies. They incorporate engineering principles as well as various mathematical principles, including calculus, algebra, and trigonometry. Students are also expected to take up internships to gain practical engineering skills.
Upon graduating, engineering students can take up an entry-level position. However, as they progress in their careers, they must get licensed.
A Professional Engineering (PE) license enables you to access leadership and management positions and opens up doors for you in private practice. To work on public projects, you are required to have a Professional Engineering (PE) license to be able to sign off the project.
The different types of engineering courses have different license certifications and registration requirements. To get a Professional Engineering (PE) license, you will require the following:
- An engineering degree from an accredited engineering program
- A pass in the fundamentals of Engineering exam
- At least four years’ work experience in your area of study
- A pass in the professional engineering exam
A bachelor’s degree in finance offers various options for high-paying jobs. Some of the highest paying finance jobs include:
- Chief financial officer- $104,690
- Chief compliance officer – $239,701
- Hedge fund manager – $145,279
- Actuary – $108,350
- Tax director – $158,680
How to Become a Finance Specialist
Typically, to enroll for a finance degree, you need a strong academic background in mathematics and an overall good GPA.
A bachelor’s degree in finance often takes three to four years, and the curriculum incorporates coursework, practical seminars, and case studies. Students are assessed through individual assignments, group projects, and written exams. Most universities also require finance students to take internships to gain practical skills.
While some universities offer a business degree with an option for finance, others offer a stand-alone finance bachelor’s degree. Finance courses have different specializations, including:
- Public accounting
- Commercial banking
- Investment banking
- Actuarial science
- Corporate finance
- International finance
- Cash flow performance
You can get a well-paying entry-level finance job immediately after graduating. However, for certain specializations, you will be required to take professional exams to be certified. These include:
- The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for accountants
- The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) for financial analysts and managers
- The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) for financial planners.
You may also be required to take a master’s degree in finance to advance your skills and improve your chances of getting into a senior or mid-management position.
A bachelor’s degree in business offers a wide range of career options. There are different types of business degrees and specializations that students can choose from, including:
- Human resource manager
With a bachelor’s degree in business, you can work in different settings, including non-profit organizations, government, banks, investment companies, small and medium-sized businesses, and big corporations.
Some of the highest paying job with a bachelor’s degree in business include:
- Actuary – $108,350
- Accountant – $71,550
- Advertising, promotions and marketing manager – $135,900
- Benefits or compensation manager – $122,270
- Financial managers – $129,890
- Human resource manager – $116,720
- Sales manager – $126,640
- Top executives – $104,690
- Training and development managers – $113,350
How to Become a Business Specialist
Degrees in business take 3-4 years to complete. In the first two years, students are introduced to business principles and processes. In the last two years, students get to specialize in their areas of interest.
You can easily rise through the ranks with a bachelor’s degree in business. However, you may need to further your studies with a professional course or a master’s degree to advance your skills and expertise, especially in a mid-management or senior management position.
On average, software developers make $107,510 per year. Their main role is to design and create computer applications for use on different electronic devices.
How to Become a Software Developer
To become a software developer, you need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or any other related field. These courses teach you the basics of computer systems as well as computer programming skills.
The course also includes software development principles and individual or group programming projects. You should also have analytical skills, problem-solving skills, and you must be detail-oriented.
Computer programming languages and techniques are constantly changing. Software developers need to keep up with the new tools in computer languages. For instance, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to gain popularity, there is an increasing demand for software developers with skills and experience in AI algorithms.
Most computer science courses are four-year programs. They introduce students to the various programming languages, operating systems, system architecture, and computer networks.
Different computer science programs offer different majors or specializations, including:
- Software engineering
- Network and security
- Game development
- Artificial intelligence
- Data mining
- Machine learning
Aside from becoming a software engineer, a bachelor’s degree in computer science oppositions you for many other high-paying career options such as:
- Computer systems analyst – $90,920
- Computer hardware engineer – $117,220
- Computer network architect – $112,690
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator – $83,510
How to Choose the Right Undergraduate Program
Below are steps for choosing the right bachelor’s degree
Identify Your Interests
Take some time to do some soul-searching to figure out the areas you’d be interested in pursuing a career in. While some people are happy to go in whichever direction the money is at, others must build a career in an area they are passionate about.
To narrow down on your interest, make a list of subjects that you are curious about, good at, or fields you would be interested in contributing towards.
Research the Various Fields to Find Those with Good Future Prospects
For each area of interest, list down some bachelor’s degree courses that you could take. Do further research on each bachelor’s program to establish whether you’re guaranteed stable employment and competitive pay.
For instance, if you’re interested in computer technology, fields such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology are now in high demand. They are expected to continue being in high demand in the next decade.
Chose a Bachelor’s Degree Course to Study
Once you’ve identified your interests and high potential career options within your area of interest, narrow them down to one or two-degree options. When choosing a bachelor’s degree course to pursue, check its requirements and ensure that you meet or exceed them.
Determine Whether You Want to Take an Online or On-Campus Degree Program
While some courses can be easily done online, others, such as science-based courses that have a lot of laboratory work require, are best done on-campus, on a full-time basis. For instance, a business course can easily be done online on a part-time basis, while medical schools require full-time attendance on-campus.
Identify a University to Enroll in
Do your research to identify the various universities that offer the course you’re interested in. Check their tuition and enrollment requirements to establish whether they are within your means and qualifications.
Also, consider the extra expenses that may be involved with joining a given university. For instance, does the University have student accommodations, or will you need to rent an apartment out of campus?
Submit Your Application
Different universities and programs have different application procedures and requirements. Follow the application procedure of the university you want to enroll in as per the instructions provided.
Some universities require you to apply as long as you meet their requirements. In other universities, you will need to go through a rigorous interview process that may take place in several phases. It is important to submit your application as soon as the registration opens. In most cases, they will be an application fee; therefore, set it aside before the registration opens.
To increase the chances of being accepted, it is best to apply to two or three programs. Keep an eye on your email or mailbox for your acceptance letter. If the university takes too long to get back to you, consider getting in touch with their admission departments.
Useful Tips for Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Program
You want to pursue your bachelor’s degree in the shortest time possible with no hiccups if possible. Here are some tips for earning your bachelor’s degree.
Plan Your Resources Ahead of Time
It is crucial that you pay your tuition fees in time for each semester to avoid being kicked out of school. Endeavor to raise each year’s tuition in the previous year. If you need help with paying your fees, look out for scholarships, financial aid, and bursaries.
Apply for Credit Transfers Wherever Applicable
For instance, if you had taken a post-high school diploma or an associate degree in the area of your bachelor’s degree course, it is possible, but you could get credit transfer for similar units. Check-in with the admissions department to determine whether some courses can be counted as equivalencies.
Leverage University Experience to Build Your Resume
Take part in extra curriculum activities, volunteer, and seek leadership opportunities. If your university offers internship programs during the holidays or work-study in the course of the semesters, apply for them as they will add up towards your overall experience. Write as many academic papers as possible and take up projects within your area of study.
Network as Much as Possible While Still in College
Take part actively in various extra-curriculum activates. These present you with an opportunity to network with students in other courses who may become valuable professional networks once you graduate.
Make friends within your department and course. Your colleagues are likely to go on to become reputable professionals in your field. Also, interact with your professors as they may provide valuable career coaching or mentorship.
All university degrees are not the same. Some offer a higher return on investment than others. For instance, you are likely to earn a six-figure annual median salary within a few years in certain professional capacities, while for others, you may not make a six-figure salary even in top-management positions or by the time you retire. It is important that the bachelor’s degree you choose aligns with your interests and personality and pays well.