Should you choose your major based on salary?

Whether choosing a major based on salary is a good or bad idea depends on individual circumstances. You certainly need to make enough money to support your lifestyle, but you also want to choose something you are going to enjoy since you will likely plan to be doing it for the next 40-50 years of your life. How do you make the right choice?

Make a List of the Careers that Interest You

Even when you are looking to choose a major based on the salary for that degree’s career options, you want to choose something that interests you. For instance, CEOs make a great deal of money but if the idea of being the head of a large corporation, or even a small company, doesn't appeal to you the only thing you would be providing for yourself is a lifetime of unhappy work environments. The key is to find something you enjoy that will also pay you a good salary.

Research the Top Paying Careers

Instead of only making a list of what interests you, you can also possible research the top paying careers and choose a major from among the ones you find interesting. It is ludicrous to assume that you would not find a position of interest within the top paying career fields unless you have a very minimal level of interest or have your heart set on one and only one career choice. Most people who enter college have at least a couple of different major ideas, and there may be one mitigating factor that has the potential to help the student make the change. Take a student that may be undecided between Accounting and Data Processing—discovering that Data Processing requires several types of high-level math (algebra, trigonometry, calculus) may be a deciding factor for that student.

Research Salaries for Different Areas

If you are open to relocating at some time in the future, you may wish to research salaries for the careers in which you are interested both where you live now and in those areas where you might to relocate. This might mean searching by region instead of using the national statistical averages many newsletters and magazines publish. You want to choose something more specific to a region in order to ascertain whether the major you are considering offers career options with the type of salary you are seeking.

Consider Up and Coming Technology Fields

With the new technologies that enter the market each day you may want to consider a new entry field. You can obtain a list of newer entrants and their affects on the job market with viewing a report of Labor Statistics or other types of reports. While you may not know all of the new career options, you may be able to gain some knowledge into those areas and thus have some insight into the type of career major you may wish to pursue after college. Making the right choice for your future is not something you can decide overnight; you should take some time to research and think carefully before you make a final decision.

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