Right now, students in the US have a lot up in the air.

Many are unsure if their college will reopen in the fall, if it's safe to go back, which classes will be online, etc. College students are living amid a prolonged recession, with the coronavirus pandemic sending the unemployment rate to a high 13.5%. Young people are worried about their job prospects. That's on top of the stresses students normally face, like trying to decide which major to choose. 



While time will only tell with regards to the many questions students face, helpful information about the value of different college degrees is out there. And it could help you make a decision about what path to pursue. After all, the average tuition of one year of private four-year college is over $36,000, and one year at a public four-year in-state college is over $10,000, according to The College Board. You want your education to be worth it.

Consumer financials company Bankrate.com compiled a list of the most lucrative options. And while money alone shouldn't be your deciding factor, knowing your potential earning power is helpful information to have. 

Using 2017 US Census Bureau American Community Survey data obtained through the University of Minnesota research's program, Bankrate.com analysts looked at majors with at least 15,000 people, low unemployment rates, a high median income, and the need for an advanced degree. The three factors were then weighted to come up with the ranking of the most profitable majors. The last of those three weighted factors — whether someone holds an advanced degree — was treated as a slight knock in rankings, because a person had to spend extra money and time obtaining an advanced degree to get the salary they have. 

Here are the 10 most valuable college degrees, ranked in order of profitability.

10. Material science



Material science is "an interdisciplinary field involving the properties of matter and its applications to various areas of science and engineering," according to Science Daily. 

Median income: $90,000
Percent unemployment: 2.0%
Percent with advanced degree: 66%

9. Electrical engineering technology



Electrical engineering technology is "an applied engineering field that encompasses product design, product development, manufacturing, maintenance, testing and quality control," per Grand Canyon University's website. 

Median income: $76,000
Percent unemployment: 1.8%
Percent with advanced degree: 30%

8. Computer engineering



Computer engineers create and develop computer systems and other technological and hardware devices. 

Median income: $92,000
Percent unemployment: 2.8%
Percent with advanced degree: 40%

7. Aerospace engineering



Aerospace engineering deals with the development of aircrafts and spacecrafts. 

Median income: $90,000
Percent unemployment: 2.3%
Percent with advanced degree: 49%

6. Architectural engineering



Architectural engineers specialize in designing buildings. 

Median income: $74,000
Percent unemployment: 1.5%  
Percent with advanced degree: 29%

5. Electrical engineering



Electrical engineers deal with the technology of electrical systems, from microchips to power systems.

Median income: $99,000
Percent unemployment: 2.7%
Percent with advanced degree: 46%

4. Genetics



Genetics is a subsection of biology "that studies the inheritance of physical and behavioural characteristics of living things," according to UK jobs site Target Jobs. 

Median income: $85,000
Percent unemployment: 1.2%
Percent with advanced degree: 76%

3. Pharmaceutical sciences and administration



Pharmaceutical sciences and administration deals with "pharmaceutical product development and the research process involved in developing new drugs," according to education website Study.com.

Median income: $100,000
Percent unemployment: 2.2%
Percent with advanced degree: 58%

2. Nuclear engineering



Nuclear engineers "research and develop the processes, instruments, and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation," according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Median income: $98,100
Percent unemployment: 1.8%
Percent with advanced degree: 56%

1. Naval architecture and marine engineering



Naval architecture and marine engineering deals with the design of ships and marine vessels. 

Median income: $90,000
Percent unemployment: 1.6%
Percent with advanced degree: 29%


Subscribe to Business Insider's Financial Insights Newsletter


This Business Insider article was legally licensed by AdvisorStream

Kelly Stecklein CFP, MBA, MSF profile photo
Kelly Stecklein CFP, MBA, MSF
President, Wealth Advisor & Coach
Wealth Evolution Group
Office : (303) 586-8890
Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation!