Top 10 highest paying master’s degrees

Sean Campbell
Sean Campbell

3 November 2020 • 6 min read

Once you’ve got your undergrad degree in hand after a few years of hard study, you might consider specializing even further by pursuing a master’s degree. Not only is this a great way of learning much, much more about your given subject, but it’s often a sure fire way of earning more money in your career too. 

We’ve taken a look at the master’s degrees with the best prospects for a generous salary, as well as some ideas for the salary you could earn with a master’s in that field.

Please note that the salary figures included are in US Dollars. Why? Well, this data has been compiled based on the best salaries around the world, and the US Dollar is considered the global currency. Plus, the highest salaries are often to be found in the USA. 

For some perspective on just how a master’s degree can influence your potential career earnings, the average annual salary in the US is approximately $50,000. All of the following fields will see you earning at least double that! 

Business Administration 

Businesses exist to make money. The best way to make money when working for a business is by becoming “The Boss”. And one of the best ways to become a manager, or even a CEO, is by having a Master of Business degree -- MBA for short. Studying an MBA, you’ll learn about business strategy, marketing, finance and of course, management. Your chances of jumping straight into a CEO role for a huge company directly after graduation are understandably low, but give it a few years and you could reach the very top. Naturally, the salaries on offer for graduates fluctuate, but the average salary for a CEO in the US is just over $170,000 per year. 


Engineering

 

Much like the MBA above, a master’s in Engineering will allow you to climb to the top of the hierarchy in engineering companies. That’s not to stay than an undergraduate degree alone in Engineering is worthless -- it’s anything but. But your master’s will teach you how to think about the bigger picture of your industry in terms of planning and development, management and cross-industry critical thinking. This kind of education sets you up perfectly to become an engineering manager, where you could earn around $120,000 per year. 

Petroleum Engineering

Yet another Engineering master’s, but this one focuses exclusively on the world of fossil fuels. Oil and gas are still major currencies in the world, and as they won’t last forever, coming up with solutions to extract them in a more affordable and efficient way is crucial to those gargantuan fossil fuel corporations. We’re not going to get into the ethics of the whole industry here, but it’s worth knowing that petroleum engineers make lots and lots of money. How much, you ask? Just north of $110,000 per year. 

Physics

Physicists spend their days figuring out the very fabric of the universe -- Particles, energy, matter, motion and all those other deeply complex things.  It's not exactly simple work! Fittingly, those at the top of their field tend to make truck loads of money. They don’t just work in academia either. After learning all about theory, practice, research and development across a range of industries, you might find yourself working anywhere cutting edge products are created -- medicine, computer tech, textiles, or electronics for example. On average, physicists earn about $110,000 every year.      
 

Pharmacy

Dishing out medication to the population is a pretty huge responsibility, and it takes an advanced education to become qualified to make such huge decisions. As a pharmacist, you’ll work with doctors, deciding the best course of medical action for patients to take. It’ll also be your responsibility to inform doctors of the benefits and potential side effects of certain drugs. It’s a pretty big job, but with great responsibility often comes a great paycheck. Some of the lowest paid pharmacists in the US earn around $90,000, while the highest paid earn over $160,000!   

Economics

It seems that every article we write about making the most money includes something to do with Economics. It’s no surprise really, since learning about how wealth actually works is a pretty great way to become wealthy yourself. A master’s in Economics takes your undergraduate degree to new heights. You’ll dive into the rabbit holes of labour economics, econometrics, and international economies, emerging with a degree that will qualify you to work for financial organisations, consulting companies, and even governments.  Economists’ salaries do vary, but the average is around $115,000 a year.  

Human Resources

There’s a long running sarcasm regarding HR staff and the utter boredom of their job, but this isn’t quite the right attitude. Those high up in HR within a company are charged with directing large numbers of employees, trying to increase happiness and productivity, while recruiting talent and hosting staff training. In short, HR staff grease the wheels of a company and keep things running smoothly. A master’s in Human Resources can elevate you into the upper echelons of a HR management, resulting in an annual salary of around $100,000. 

Health Administration

This one’s a little complex since there are many variations of Health Administration master’s degrees. These could be extended to include the likes of Public Health and Long Term Care Administration. The point though, is that these kinds of master’s degrees enable you to become a manager in the world of healthcare. Hospital executive, health services manager, the list goes on. You’ll be required to be much more than just a doctor in these kinds of roles, overseeing the running of health related companies and organisations. The hard work pays off though, with health service managers earning around $80,000 per year on average.    

Health Sciences

Another master’s degree with a lot of variations, but the main idea is that you’ll be specialising in a specific area of medicine with a view to stepping into a more managerial or administrative role.  Just as above, people with Health Sciences master’s degrees tend to earn around $80,000 a year. 

Computer Science   

Our final entry should come as no surprise. Big tech effectively runs the world today, and without experts in the computer world, they’d be totally lost. A master’s in this subject teaches you how to design and troubleshoot computer systems, come up with effective algorithms, administrate large scale databases, and create innovative software and hardware. It’s difficult to pin down an average salary here, but computer scientists tend to start their careers off with around $70,000 a year, and often earn more than double that figure midway through their careers.

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Sean Campbell
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Sean Campbell

Sean is a writer, copywriter & editor from Ireland.


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