Top 15 Highest Paid Non-STEM Majors

By Sky Ariella
Oct. 25, 2022

Find a Job You Really Want In

Taking up a STEM major in college is enticing to many students because it promises a high salary and impressive occupation, but for others, it’s an absolute nightmare. As a result, many students wonder what their alternatives are for non-STEM majors that still pay well.

In this article, we’ll talk about some high-paying, non-STEM majors that you can pursue, and we’ll explain the difference between STEM and non-STEM majors.

Key Takeaways

  • Three of the highest-paid non-STEM majors are construction management, marketing, and economics.

  • STEM majors are those in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

  • Some fields like psychology and nursing are similar to many STEM majors but don’t focus as heavily on math and science.

Top 15 Highest Paid Non-STEM Majors

What Is a STEM vs. a Non-STEM Major?

The educational focuses that a university student can take are commonly categorized as STEM or non-STEM majors — the difference between the two lies in the subject matter of the study.

STEM stands for:

  • Science

  • Technology

  • Engineering

  • Math

These are the fields of study that STEM majors encompass. There is a multitude of STEM majors, and many of them tie together aspects from each subset.

Non-STEM majors would be any other program that doesn’t fall into these subject areas. They involve topics like:

  • English

  • Philosophy

  • Business

  • Art and performative studies

Top 15 Highest Paid Non-STEM Majors

  1. Sociology. The heart of a sociology major’s studies is about human behavior in its many forms, such as individually, culturally, and in organized groups. The field looks into the development of society and the problems that affect it. Courses in a sociology program can range in their substance from identity studies to gender roles in society.

    Sociology students become qualified for a wide range of jobs that involve working with humans in all their contexts after graduation. Although a degree in sociology isn’t a STEM career, it can still entail a high-paying position in a variety of occupations.

    Possible jobs: Guidance counselor, human resources coordinator, urban planner, criminology researcher, social worker
    Potential salary range: $28,500-$83,500

  2. Journalism. Individuals with strong writing and presentation skills might be well-served by majoring in journalism. Journalism studies in college focus on conveying news and information to a particular audience through written or broadcasting mediums.

    Students majoring in journalism are prepared for their future careers by learning best research practices, interviewing techniques, and story production.

    Journalism majors may be asked to choose a definitive specialty in the industry depending on their university’s requirements. Some of these journalism specialties include:

    • Political

    • Broadcast

    • Entertainment

    • Investigative

    Despite the specialty that a journalism major chooses, there are many high-paying career options they could attain with this degree.

    Possible jobs: Content writer, reporter, news editor, technical writer, news anchor
    Potential salary range: $25,000-$84,000

  3. Psychology. College students, in general, are figuring out their brain’s processes and social interactions. Psychology majors just make figuring out the intricacies of the human mind their full-time focus in university. In higher education, psychology majors may be asked to pick a focus for their studies. Some popular psychology specialties include:

    • Cognitive

    • Developmental

    • Clinical

    • Forensic

    Psychology majors have a lot of potential job opportunities once they graduate. Many people associate the major with going on to become therapists or psychiatrists, but there’s a variety of careers available for psychology majors beyond these. Plus, these alternative occupations pay very well.

    Possible jobs: Case manager, psychiatric technician, laboratory assistant, school counselor
    Potential salary range: $33,500-$87,500

  4. Education. Studying education as a major is about learning how to properly teach and convey information to students of varying age groups. They’re trained in a series of skills that help their teaching career. Some of these abilities include:

    • Classroom management

    • Curriculum design

    • Student motivation

    • Child development

    While many people who major in education choose to take a teaching job when they graduate, that’s not the only job that it can lead to. Plenty of education majors go on to work in administrative positions and as educational counselors.

    Possible jobs: Primary school teacher, preschool teacher, education administrator, admissions counselor, curriculum designer
    Potential salary range: $23,000-$92,000

  5. Hospitality management. Hospitality jobs typically don’t require a degree in the field, but having one can enable a graduate to make much more money in their occupation. Choosing hospitality management as a major in university sets you up to take on a variety of supervisory roles in service industries.

    This could include management positions in places like restaurants, hotels, and recreation facilities.

    A degree in hospitality management prepares students in customer service skills, but also the day-to-day administrative functions and leadership tools. Majoring in hospitality management is an excellent option for students who don’t want a STEM career but still want to potentially make a lot of money.

    Possible jobs: Travel agent, conference organizer, restaurant manager, hotel management, food, and beverage director
    Potential salary range: $24,000-$94,000

  6. Business administration. Throughout the years of their higher education, business administration majors learn the details of how businesses operate successfully. This involves a healthy foundation of business principles and history, coupled with soft skills that are relevant to business administration jobs.

    Many people are interested in pursuing a business administration degree because the field has a lot of varying opportunities with upward mobility.

    Some business administration majors might go on to build their own company from scratch as an entrepreneur, and others assist established organizations in their functioning as financial analysts or consultants. Whichever path a business administration major takes with their degree, it comes with an impressive average salary.

    Possible jobs: Loan officer, human resources specialist, financial analyst, sports operations manager, business consultant
    Potential salary range: $38,000-$100,500

  7. Nursing. While a nursing major’s work functions adjacently to STEM-related studies, it doesn’t quite fit into this category. Nursing majors study subjects that are related to healthcare and medicine, such as anatomy, natural sciences, and physiology.

    They’re taught diligently to think on their feet in a clinical or hospital setting, and also must be experienced with communication and organization.

    This major correlates directly to a career as a nurse, but there are many different kinds of nursing jobs out there, depending on your preferences. It’s a demanding position that keeps you busy, but it also comes with high earning potential.

    Possible jobs: Physician’s office nurse, school nurse, nurse midwife, pharmaceutical nurse, emergency room nurse
    Potential salary range: $52,080-$111,220

  8. Finance. Majoring in finance is ideal for money-minded people who want to base their careers around the financial aspects of businesses. The study teaches students about financial planning, projection, and investments, among other topics, to sharpen their monetary know-how.

    This prepares them to advise and analyze their client’s companies in the future. While being a finance major does involve a bit of mathematics and statistics, it’s much less intensive in these focuses than a STEM field. However, it has the potential to open up a career that makes as much money as a STEM job does.

    Possible jobs: Financial analyst, budget analyst, investment banker, public accountant, hedge fund manager
    Potential salary range: $27,000-$115,000

  9. International relations. The major of international relations is an all-encompassing study of worldly affairs in matters like politics, economics, and culture. International relations majors are often required to take a bunch of courses related to history, politics, and sociology to gather the necessary expertise in the field.

    In higher studies, international relations students choose specialties to dedicate most of their time to. Some of these international relations specialties include:

    • Human rights

    • Global conflict and peace

    • Comparative foreign policy

    • International security

    A degree in international relations qualifies graduates for a plethora of interesting positions that can bring in a reliable paycheck, and it doesn’t require any STEM courses.

    Possible jobs: Foreign service officer, public affairs consultant, diplomat, journalist
    Potential salary range: $40,900-$116,000

  10. Economics. While many people associate economics with being another financial-related field of study, it’s actually more like being a specialist in human behavior when it comes to resources and wealth.

    Economics majors are taught to examine monetary principles on a grander scale than a business major might. They study aspects of microeconomics and macroeconomics that are applicable at an international level rather than an organizational one.

    This usually results in economics majors graduating to find a litany of job offers in many different kinds of occupations. These could be in business-intensive roles, but they can also work at the governmental level. Being an economics major also comes with the potential salary range to match its expertise.

    Possible jobs: Credit analyst, market research analyst, accountant, economic researchers, business news reporter
    Potential salary range: $24,000-$124,000

  11. Communications. As the name suggests, being a communications major educates students in communicative skills. These studies can be applied to many different forms of communications-related fields, such as media and political writing. Along with being able to communicate, majors in this industry become very familiar with researching.

    The core of a communications major is about learning how to properly transmit information in the desired medium. The list of potential occupations for these types of skills goes on endlessly, from being a film producer to a politician.

    Possible jobs: Event planner, brand strategist, public relations specialist, speechwriter, journalist, social media manager
    Potential salary range: $20,000-$135,500

  12. Political science. Governments across the globe exist both in theory and reality. A political science major must study both of these governmental aspects to develop informed expertise in the subject.

    The process of earning a political science degree involves taking courses in international relations, political conflicts, and models of government. Writing and discussion are also crucial for succeeding in a political science major.

    Many students who were political science majors in their undergraduate studies go on to pursue further education to become qualified for specific positions, like being an attorney. However, even political science majors with only a bachelor’s degree can go on to make a large yearly salary in their job, like a legislative assistant.

    Possible jobs: Political consultant, economist, lobbyists, legislative assistant, government official, attorney

    Potential salary range: $60,960-$164,210

  13. Construction management. The people who manage construction projects are often required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in construction management.

    This educates them to take on management tasks in the field of construction, such as creating project plans, organizing budgets, and overseeing the entire process until completion.

    Since it’s a supervisory position, professionals in this occupation need to acquire skills in leadership, delegation, and time management. Construction management majors are also trained in coordinating with other building professionals, such as architects and trade workers.

    Majoring in construction management isn’t as popular as a STEM major, but it provides a high starting salary with enormous room for growth after gaining hands-on professional experience.

    Possible jobs: Construction manager, cost estimator, projects controller, carpenter foreman
    Potential salary range: $56,140-$164,790

  14. Law. A law degree is most commonly achieved by students hoping to pursue a career as a lawyer. This requires a bachelor’s degree, law school, and passing a slightly painful exam. While being a law major is required to become a lawyer, it can also be helpful for a number of other careers.

    Some of these include:

    A law degree requires minimal STEM studies but still leads to a lucrative job.

    Possible jobs: Lawyer, contracts administrator, politician, legal consultant, a law professor
    Potential salary range: $45,000-$180,000

  15. Marketing. The field of marketing has become one of the most in-demand majors for recent graduates. A marketing major learns about the relationships of a business and how to build and sustain a customer base.

    Students of marketing develop skills in advertising, psychology, and design, which gives them access to a variety of careers later on.

    With the rise of the digital age, marketing careers have become more plentiful than ever, with niches that can fit any student of the discipline. While some professions in marketing require abilities in data analysis and projection, it’s an industry that’s generally STEM-free and highly paid.

    Possible jobs: Product manager, copywriter, content strategist, public relations manager, event planner
    Potential salary range: $61,930-$208,000

Non-STEM Major FAQ

  1. Is a non-STEM degree worth it?

    Yes, a non-STEM degree is worth it. Many non-STEM degrees lead to careers that are just as lucrative and fulfilling as STEM careers.

  2. Do STEM majors get paid more?

    No, STEM majors don’t get paid more. While a large percentage of STEM majors lead to high-paying careers, there are a number of non-STEM majors that lead to careers that are just as high-paying — if not more so.

  3. What is a non-STEM major?

    A non-STEM major is a major that isn’t in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. This means non-STEM majors include those in business, literature, education, arts, and humanities.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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