Careers

The 10 highest-paying college majors 

 Maskot | Getty Images

Going to college is a serious investment. Over 44 million Americans collectively hold nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt because they know that earning a college degree is crucial to get ahead in the modern economy.

But some college majors pay off more than others. According to the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, early childhood education majors report median earnings of $36,000 a year while petroleum engineering majors see median earnings closer to $120,000. Overall, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors consistently have some of the highest rates of employment and the highest incomes.

Salary comparison site PayScale recently surveyed 2.3 million graduates from over 2,700 colleges across the U.S. What they found is that students who studied specific majors had the highest median earnings within the first five years of their careers and 10 years into their careers. Computer science, surprisingly, did not make the cut.

Here are the 10 highest-paying college majors right now:

 serts | Getty Images

10. Electrical power engineering

Early career salary: $68,600
Mid-career salary: $119,100

9. Cognitive science

Early career salary: $54,000
Mid-career salary: $121,900

8. Geophysics

Early career salary: $54,100
Mid-career salary: $122,200

7. Economics and mathematics

Early career salary: $60,000
Mid-career salary: $122,900

6. Marine engineering

Early career salary: $73,900
Mid-career salary: $123,200

 Hero Images | Getty Images

5. Chemical engineering

Early career salary: $70,300
Mid-career salary: $124,500

4. Nuclear engineering

Early career salary: $69,000
Mid-career salary: $127,500

3. Actuarial science

Early career salary: $61,200
Mid-career salary: $130,800

2. Actuarial mathematics

Early career salary: $56,400
Mid-career salary: $131,700

1. Petroleum engineering

Early career salary: $94,600
Mid-career salary: $175,500

 sezer66 | Getty Images

Petroleum engineering majors reported the highest mid-career salaries through their careers. According to PayScale, workers with this degree make around $175,000 a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15 percent job growth rate for petroleum engineers, more than double the average growth rate for all jobs.

Several other engineering majors cracked the top 10, including nuclear engineering, chemical engineering and marine engineering. Mathematics-focused majors like actuarial studies and economics also ranked highly.

"Students and parents want to make informed decisions about future career and income opportunities associated with their college education investment," PayScale Vice President Lydia Frank says in a statement shared wtih CNBC Make It. "While earning potential should not be the only consideration, it is an important factor, especially when evaluating the cost of education today."

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Don't miss: