As college degrees have grown increasingly expensive, many students want to ensure they're getting the most bang for their buck when deciding on a major. A recent analysis from Bankrate, a publisher and provider of financial product comparison tools, shows three of the five top-earning and most secure four-year college majors are related to the construction industry.
Overall, engineering majors tend to provide the most value, and many related jobs are centered around developing large, complex systems such as buildings and transportation networks.
Bankrate looked at three main factors to weigh the value of the degrees:
- Median income: 70% weight.
- Unemployment rate: 20% weight.
- Percentage of people with an advanced degree (in other words, whether or not you would have to invest in further schooling): 10% weight.
Based on these criteria, here are three construction-related degrees that Bankrate claims are almost certainly an excellent investment:
1. Architectural engineering
This major tops the entire list, with a median income of $90,000, an unemployment rate of 1.3% and higher degree holder rate of 29%. This is a niche degree for civil engineering students who want to focus on buildings, and often involves learning skills in structural, mechanical, electrical, lighting, acoustical and design engineering, according to the Penn State Architectural Engineering program.
Architectural engineers help conceptualize, design, build, operate and maintain built environments. Some also work as mechanical engineers, cost estimators and electrical and electronics engineers, according to career resource website TalentDesk.
2. Construction services
With a median income of $80,000, low unemployment rate of 1.0% and higher degree rate of 12.1%, construction services ranks number two on the list.
Those in construction services may serve as the lead on a jobsite, coordinating and supervising a variety of projects, or work in a more administrative capacity, keeping track of contracts, preparing progress reports, scheduling and processing invoices, according to Everglades University. Some with this degree work as cost estimators, civil engineers and general & operations managers, according to TalentDesk.
3. Transportation sciences and technologies
Tied for fourth with Aerospace Engineering on the list overall, this degree features an average salary of $86,000, unemployment rate of 1.8% and higher degree holder rate of 21%. Transportation engineers design, construct and enhance well-functioning systems that get people where they need to go.
Graduates may work at transport companies or in the public transport sector, for logistics service providers and for engineering companies, according to the University of Central Florida, which has a related degree program. Coursework is focused on transportation planning and operations, traffic engineering, construction engineering and more.