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You schlep to class every day for four (five? more?) years, keeping your eyes on the prize. The prize being, my friend, a great job making beaucoup bucks when you graduate. Or so you thought. Depending on your major, you could be cashing a hefty paycheck right away or at the dawn of the next decade. You should be rewarded sooner for your education. With these top careers, you could see the benefits of higher education sooner than you might think.

Careers with the top starting salaries

It's inevitable: in most jobs you'll have to pay your dues. But why not get paid well while you do that? These degrees could give you a chance to boost your knowledge and turbo-charge your first paycheck. Best of all, many are possible with online education, giving you extra flexibility in your work week. Salaries reported are average starting salaries from 2010 according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, unless otherwise noted.

  1. Engineering: This high-tech degree tops the charts again. Engineering degrees dominated the list of top starting salaries in 2010, including majors like petroleum engineering ($86,220), chemical engineering ($65,142), and computer engineering ($60,879). A bachelor's degree in your chosen engineering field is a good first step towards earning a healthy starting salary.
  2. Veterinary Science: According to a survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association, average starting salaries of veterinary medical college graduates were $58,522 for those who worked with a range of small and large animals. Looking for a career without a doctoral degree? Go for veterinary science technician training.
  3. Finance: Put your money knowledge to good use with a degree in finance. In 2008, Finance workers in consulting earned average starting salaries of $54,300. That same major headed to entry-level management earned starting salaries of $39,900; the career you choose, even within majors, can have a big effect on your salary.
  4. Information Sciences and Systems: Work behind the scenes in IT companies, managing the networks and systems that help run the business. A bachelor's degree gives you the broad knowledge you need, and workers in the class of 2010 accepted average starting salaries of $54,038.
  5. Logistics/Materials Management: If you have an eye for organization and a brain for complex systems, this major can start you off towards a rewarding career. Majors working in financial and treasury analysis earned average starting salaries of $54,000 in 2008.
  6. Accounting: Put your math skills to work with a bachelor's degree in accounting. You can work as an accountant without a CPA, but most accountants eventually earn the certification in order to earn more and expand their job opportunities. Bachelor's degree graduates in accounting received starting offers averaging $48,575 in 2009.
  7. Human Resources: Have you ever wanted to sit on the other side of the interview desk? With a bachelor's degree in human resources, you could. Workers who majored in human resources received starting offers averaging $45,170 a year in 2009. Customizing your major with additional training, such as labor and industrial relations, is a smart way to make yourself invaluable.
  8. Marketing: Learn how to create a brand, research how customers interact with it, and bring in more money for your clients with a marketing major. Starting salaries for marketing majors in the class of 2009 averaged $43,325, and this is one job where hard work pays off in managerial positions, bonuses, and more.
  9. Registered Nursing: The Bureau of Labor statistics reports that registered nurses earned mean annual wages of $66,530 in 2009. While starting salary statistics will be lower, earning a bachelor's degree in nursing and then earning your RN license may be the fastest way to securing the salary you deserve.
  10. Business Administration/Management: Ready to be the boss? The Class of 2009 saw starting salary offers of $42,094, and as you can imagine, climbing the management career ladder often leads to higher positions of authority and higher salaries to match. Whether you want to work for yourself or find yourself at a growing company, this bachelor's degree is a smart plan.

Start making money sooner. Get a Degree Online.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that the overall average salary offer to a bachelor's degree candidate in the Class of 2010 was $47,673. Earn a degree like the ones above without quitting your current job by investing in online education. While no degree program can guarantee a particular career or salary, training in the fields above is typically preferred or required by hiring managers.