6 Degrees to Prep You for a High Paying Job

Six High-Pay Degrees

If you're hoping to snag a high-paying job after graduation, you may want to consider earning one of these degrees.  

By Andrea Duchon

When choosing a major, it's never a bad idea to consider your post-graduation goals before buying the books. In some cases, a certain skill set or passion drives a student's motivation to go to school. Other times, students are interested in earning as much as possible with a high-paying job.

If you fall into the latter camp, do you know which degrees could prepare you for a career that pays well?

"All of the degrees below require some of the same basic skill sets, which include strong communication, analytical and critical thinking skills, and being detail oriented. In addition, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, these fields are expected to grow faster than average for all occupations," says Amber Lennon, director of the Oxley Career Education Program at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

Interested to see if any of these in-demand degrees get you excited enough to step into the classroom?

Keep reading to learn about six degrees that could help you pursue a job that pays a median annual wage of at least $45,000.

Degree #1: Accounting

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Have you always breezed through your tax returns and balanced your checkbook without batting an eye? If so, a bachelor's degree in accounting could give you real-world skills that could put you on the path to a well-paid future.

In this program, you could take typical courses like accounting, auditing, and business law, and you'll learn how to analyze financial information and risks for an organization, says the College Board, a not-for-profit organization committed to excellence and equity in education.

The High-Pay Factor: Additional government regulations and reporting requirements have led to more demand at the same moment when baby boomers are starting to retire, says Allen Wass, president of the Sanford Rose Associates Owner's Association Board, an executive recruitment firm in Hudson, Ohio.

Lennon agrees: "Due to recent financial crises and changes in financial regulations, there is a high demand for detailed financial documentation. Recent college graduates will have the opportunity to enter public, management, or government accounting or internal auditing."

Lennon adds that you'll need strong analytical, mathematical, and communication skills, in addition to being detail oriented to succeed as an accountant.

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Degree #2: Nursing

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Are you interested in making a career out of caring for others? Studying nursing could give you the tangible skills for this field and could help you earn a great paycheck post-graduation.

The College Board says you can expect to take classes in adult nursing, childbearing-family nursing, and health assessment. In a health assessment course you could learn to conduct physical exams, take health histories, and design a plan of care.

The High-Pay Factor: Lennon says that nurses are the front-line responders in the hospital and the vital link between the patient and their doctors.

"Not only do they spend more time with patients than the doctors do, but they also have to interact with the patient's family members," she adds.

So why are they paid so well?

"As a part of their training, nurses are taught how to assess, plan, implement and evaluate care for individual patients, and they have to adapt to an ever-changing, demanding environment," Lennon continues. "This is why nurses deserve the pay they make and more."

She adds that you'll need to showcase patience, compassion, good written and verbal communication skills, and emotional stability to perform well in this field.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Nursing Program.

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Degree #3: Business Administration

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Making it to the top of the corporate ladder has been on your wish list for years and you're finally ready to take the next step in your life to get there. Sound familiar? Earning a degree in business administration could give you the educational background you need to help pull in a hefty paycheck and take you further than the bottom rung of the proverbial ladder.

A degree in business administration prepares you to plan and control an organization's activities and may include classes like economics, marketing, and business statistics, according to the College Board.

The High-Pay Factor: "With the shift to a service economy, selling has become increasingly important," says Wass. "Accordingly, companies need people for roles in sales, marketing, and business development. A business administration degree program tends to engage students through case analysis, project-based courses, and experiential learning."

He also says that business admin students should be prepared to manage and lead individuals, teams and projects. Possessing these leadership skills could translate into higher pay post-graduation.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

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Degree #4: Computer Science

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Maybe you're a whiz at cleaning up computer bugs or have always had a knack for figuring out complex problems. You could put that intuitive curiosity to good use by earning a degree in computer science.

Computer science majors study how humans interact with computers in a scientific way and may take classes like software engineering, artificial intelligence, and digital system design, according to the College Board.

The High-Pay Factor: Because just about everything utilizes computers, Wass says a wide range of opportunities exist for graduates of computer science. "This could include software engineering, game design, computer graphics, internet systems and technology, and hardware development," he adds.

He adds that because this is a fast-growing field, companies end up competing for talented people who have strong analytical skills and programming experience honed through a rigorous computer science curriculum. In the end, that competition oftentimes shows up in the form of a higher paycheck.

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Degree #5: Emergency Management Technology

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When a disaster occurs, the people on the ground sorting out the mess often make huge impacts in the lives of the people affected. Think you'd like to be part of those teams? A degree in emergency medical technology could help put you on the path towards a high-paying and exciting job after graduation.

Students could take courses in anything from emergency communication and patient transportation, to crisis intervention and EMT rescue, and also learn to care for patients in a medical crisis, according to the College Board.

The High-Pay Factor: "Students in an undergraduate emergency services administration program get real-world training from professors - many of whom are still active in the field," explains Abraham Levinson, program coordinator of emergency services administration at Adelphi University.

"When students graduate from the program, they will be opened up to a breadth of different experiences in disaster situations from all around the world. Emergency management isn't a job that can be done without appropriate training, which is something an employer sees value in and is happy to compensate for," he adds.

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Degree #6: Health Care Administration

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Maybe you've always dreamed of working in the medical field but don't have the time or desire to drudge through medical school. Earning a degree in health care administration could help you pursue the booming and high-pay field.  

In this program, you could take courses like health care law, human resources management, and anatomy and physiology, the College Board notes. You'll also learn the ropes behind managing health care facilities.

The High-Pay Factor: The need for health care administration graduates is expected to grow rapidly due to the aging of the baby boomers, says Lennon.

Over time, she adds that the demand for skilled administrators will increase.

"These administrators not only serve as the face of the organization, but they are responsible for overseeing all facets of operation including business development, fundraising, clinical operations, employee performance, facility expansion, and budget proposals," says Lennon. "Most of the higher level management positions have larger salaries due to the high demands of the position."

To be successful, she notes that students should be proficient in analytical, communication, inter-personal, problem-solving, and technical skills.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Care Administration Program.

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* All wage information denotes median annual income, as outline by the U.S. Department of Labor, May 2012 handbook.

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