Must be a coincidence, but lately I have been hearing about a lot of people that are going back to school in their 20’s and 30’s to get additional degrees in an effort to increase their income. Those college majors people picked when they were 17, 18, or 19 apparently aren’t bringing home the bacon or maybe their career’s earning potential isn’t in line with their goals such as getting married and buying a house, and maybe having a couple kids.
It’s pretty crazy to think that many of us make decisions at age 17 that greatly impact the rest of our careers. Unfortunately, I don’t remember high school teachers stressing picking a major that will pay the bills or going to the state school to save money.
Personally, I began thinking about college seriously as a sophomore in high school. I always did well in math and science and knew if I wanted to do well in college I should probably pick a major which encompasses one of those subjects. As I got more serious about the college hunt in my junior year, something took over my thought process – money.
I knew that I would receive some family support for college but, more likely than not, I would have to foot a majority of the bill. I purchased college guides which ranked schools by major, location, cost, projected income, and other categories to perform my analysis. I was pretty disappointed with the average wages the college guides noted for many majors. My father was a blue collar worker and never stepped foot in a college and I knew his salary was higher than a lot of the majors that my book was projecting. That made me realize that if I was going to spend four years attending college and paying for it, I would need to get a major that would make it worth it financially.
After I conducted all my research I knew it would be a good fit for me to major in a business or engineering field. Both had a math component, and both had good earning potential. I realized I enjoyed the stock market and reading about businesses a lot more than I enjoyed learning how to code (I dropped that awful class in high school) or physics. Eventually during my freshman year of college I settled on an accounting major. It was pretty evident that making six figures by age 30 or sooner was definitely doable, especially with a CPA designation. I had always done well with standardized testing, so I figured this would be a good route to take. Without ruining the surprise, majoring in accounting has been a great move for me, and I’m glad I considered the potential earning power of my degree when I was a teenager.
For those who want their college majors to pay off for them, I would select a major that does two things. First, find a major that you like (not love). Second, find a major that has a six figure earning potential within 10 years of graduating. Now if you can find a major that leads to a career you love and are passionate about, AND earns six figures, well then that is a no-brainer to go after. The last thing you want is a major that leads to a career that doesn’t pay more than a career you could have gotten without the degree, especially if you aren’t passionate about it.
How did you select your college major? Did the degree’s earning potential get factored into your decision? Did you ever go back to school because your first degree didn’t bring home the bacon?