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Degrees That Pay

While graduate school is typically a shelter from the storm in an unforgiving job market, some who have gone back to school or recently graduated are finding that a college degree is worth the investment.

The average salary for some professions is going up. The college class of 2011's average starting salary is $51,018, up from $48,661 last year, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, NACE. Twice a year, NACE surveys its 900 member employers and 1,800 colleges and universities to come up with a list of top-paying college majors and their corresponding average salary offers.

“The steady increases in starting salary offers we’re seeing this year is a good indication that the job market for new college graduates is gathering strength,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE's executive director.

As companies remain focused on business growth, many are looking for employees with technical skills. Petroleum engineering and computer engineering grads had the highest bumps in starting salaries this year.

There are, however, some notable exceptions. Psychology graduates, for instance, saw a whopping 23.8 increase in their average salary offer, which now stands at $40,069. Although the job market is not as encouraging for English or general liberal arts graduates, most saw their average offers increase.

"Typically the more technical degrees command higher salaries, which explains why nearly all of the top-paid degrees are in the engineering field," Andrea Koncz of NACE says.

Click ahead to see what college degrees are pulling in the best paychecks.

By Jessica Naziri
Posted 15 August 2011