Drawing on statistics available through the Departments of Education and Labor, Business Insider has published a state-by-state list of the “most lucrative” college major in each state. The salaries of those who have earned baccalaureate degrees in certain disciplines and who are working in occupations related to those disciplines have been averaged.
What follows is a composite profile of that data, organized by major and occupation, rather than by state:
New Hampshire [$107,000]
New Mexico [$85,000]
South Carolina [$105,000]
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
New Jersey [$108,000]
New York [$108,000]
North Carolina [$118,000]
South Dakota [$52,000]
Business Management and Administration
Rhode Island [$76,000]
West Virginia [$55,000]
South Dakota [$56,000]
In some cases, the high salaries seem to correlate with high-demand for the degrees due to the presence of major industries—for instance, chemical engineering in Louisiana, petroleum engineering in Texas, and aerospace engineering in Washington.
In other instances, the high salaries seem, perhaps, to suggest the relative scarcity of those holding the degrees—for instance, computer science in Arkansas and Nebraska and elementary education in Wyoming.
That electrical engineering would be the highest paying major in 15 states is hardly a surprise, but that pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences and administration would be the highest paying major in 12 states does surprise me—not because of the salaries themselves but because of the range of states in which this major and occupation is ranked first. These statistics seem to suggest the massive size of the pharmaceutical industry in this country.
Lastly, although one would expect a sizable difference in salaries between the more urban and more rural states, I think that the ranges here are nonetheless quite startling, especially given that this is a list of the highest paying majors and occupations.
Likewise, I am surprised that Nursing is the highest paying major in three states, but especially in Delaware, and although it pays considerably more in Delaware than in Maine and South Dakota, in none of those states do the average salaries seem especially high. And I have the same feeling about salaries earned in those states in which various business majors are ranked first.