Many people you hear about in the financial independence community are college-educated. The general consensus is that financial independence is a magnet for highly paid professionals. Are they all onto something? Did they choose the right major in college? We all know that the cost of a college education has risen sharply above the general inflation rate. If you want to keep up with the high cost of attendance, then what are the best high paying college majors for financial independence? I did my research and this is what I have found.
The 7 best college majors for financial independence are Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Finance, Economics, and Accounting. It’s worth noting that these majors were selected purely by how well they pay, I actually believe that any major can be the best major for financial independence. There probably is never going to be the perfect job, but you shouldn’t work in something where you will hate your life. Financial Independence is about more than just escaping from work, it’s about finding happiness, it’s about the journey, and its about having more control over your time.
The 7 Best College Majors For Financial Independence:
The first four majors on the list are known as STEM degrees. STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These are in high demand across many industries and generally pay very well, even at the entry-level. Choosing a degree in this field will be hard work, and that is partly why they pay so well, the work requires a lot of effort to learn, and they are highly technical in nature. These degrees are known to be essential for innovation and job creation. So much so that they have been touted by the Federal Government in an effort to increase enrollment of these studies.
Science is a broad topic, but it is comprised of three main branches: physical, life, and earth sciences. The highest paying science degrees include Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. If you like the idea of wearing a white lab coat, then this field of study might be right for you. There is some overlap between math and science, especially with topics like physics. What you will find is that the STEM majors inter-lap quite well with each other, and are generally focused on research and development.
Technology has always been big. It is even more important now than ever, and in the future, it will be even more important than it is now. Computer Science is probably the best known major that pays the highest in technology right now. Other honorable mentions are MIS (Management Information Systems) and Information Technology (IT). Our economy is focused on technology more than ever, and I can’t see us slowing down.
So many fields in engineering, and they all top the list for highest paying. If you are after money quickly right after college then Engineering is the way to go. Most notable are Chemical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Anything else with Engineering after the first name. From what I hear; be prepared to live with numbers in your head constantly and give up on any sleep goals you might have.
Another field where you must think in numbers and symbols. Mathematics is one major where you are like what? There’s a major in this? Yes, there is and it pays well because not too many people want to do it. Math bleeds into every other major on this list, so that has to mean something good. Just don’t become a math teacher right!?
A personal favorite of mine that I had to put on here because Finance is what I “studied” in college. A major in finance just paints a picture of investment bankers in New York City working 20 hours per day 7 days a week. If we divide up the number of hours and the high cost of living in NYC, Are the investment bankers even getting paid very much at all? Well luckily there are many other jobs that pay decently in finance, nearly every business needs analysts. Or if you are into personal finances like I am, you can write blog posts about financial independence.
Economics is like a diamond in the rough. Technically it is a social science so it’s like why are you here? You don’t belong on this list. Its a really high paying major, and I believe that economics majors can branch out into similar jobs like finance majors. One distinction I could see is very well paid economics majors working for governments. Federal, State, County, City, you name it they all want economists to tell them what to do to improve their economies.
You cant forget accounting. It’s a pretty solid choice, it’s the one job where the major is the job title you’re bound to get. An accountant is also the quintessential job for people pursuing financial independence because you are literally in a cubicle most of the time. Sounds pretty miserable to me, but it pays well and you can account for things in any field. I don’t think accounting is going anywhere soon seeing as every single business in existence must use some type of accounting.
Any Major Can Get You To Financial Independence
After all that has been said, I wouldn’t limit my selection to just those top 7 majors for financial independence. If you don’t find any interest in any of the majors listed above, then why would you spend 4 years studying one of them and then another 10+ years working in a job related to it. Doesn’t make sense to me, I think you should choose a major that you are somewhat interested in.
Notice how I said “somewhat interested in” and not “passionate about”. Let’s be honest; can you really be passionate about accounting? Maybe there is like 1 in a million that can be, but that person would be an outlier. Not only will studying something you have some interest in (making you more likely to finish your degree), but it will also make your work life a little more enjoyable. Work-life balance is very important, especially with financial independence. You need to have more long-run goals and longevity of your career on your mind.
When choosing a college major, think of how long you could last while somewhat enjoying what you do. You’re probably not going to be 100% happy the entire time, but that’s next to impossible anyway. Your pay is only one factor to consider, consider other things, especially longevity as well. Financial independence is about the long game, even if the long game is 10 years as opposed to the traditional 45 years.
Also, Financial Independence is deeply rooted in your savings rate as a percentage of your income, not necessarily based on income level as a number. This means that you do not have to make above-average pay in order to become financially independent in a short amount of time. Frugality goes a long way in financial independence, and if you are a college student then you may very well be ahead of the game because of the frugal lifestyle you are already forced to live. Keep as close to that lower standard of living as possible and don’t let it inflate enough to meet your new income once you graduate, or you will not be able to effectively save for financial independence.
Even with “low paying” degrees such as those in psychology, criminal justice, and education, you can achieve financial independence. There are many education jobs such as teachers that have done this. Teachers are also known for having great work-life balance because of the larger than usual amount of time off per year. In addition to that, just know that what your degree is in does not define your career forever. This day in age, switching careers is more the norm than staying in the same one forever. The possibilities are more than endless, and you are not committed to what your major was back in college. A large part of a degree is that it shows commitment, commitment of at least 4 years of your life, that is usually the biggest selling point to an employer.
Let’s Be Real; There Is No Perfect Job
Okay, so you decided to go with a major that you have some interest in, instead of one just for the money, that’s great. Bad news for you: there is no perfect job. A job you enjoy could be one you grow to resent over time. There are always going to be days when things don’t exactly go well, but that’s life. It isn’t perfect, and nothing is easy, but that is okay because if it were easy then it wouldn’t be any fun.
Choosing a major just for the money might bring you a miserable life. Choosing a major because you are passionate about the subject could lead you to lose your passion because of the job you ended up getting. Both of those situations are no good, so I’d say choose one somewhere in the middle and you can’t go wrong. There will always be positive and negative consequences to the choices we make. You need to be prepared to deal with the negative ones.
Financial Independence Is About More Than Just Escaping Work
If you come into this mindset thinking that Financial Independence will solve all of your problems, then you have another thing coming. Do it for the right reasons, do it for happiness. Don’t pick a college major just because you think it will help you reach financial independence the fastest. Financial independence is not just an escape from a crappy job because you can avoid the crappy job in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Financial Independence and all that it stands for, but I recognize it for what it is; having more control over your own life. Having control is amazing, but will it make you happy? It might, but nothing is guaranteed. Have you ever heard “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” I’m sure you have heard it? With financial independence, it is the same thing. You should enjoy the journey along the way, and maybe once you reach the destination you will have a little more added joy. I want you to be able to look back and be happy with the choices you made because it will make you that much happier when you achieve financial independence.
What I’m really trying to say is to choose happiness. Suffering in a career you hate for 10+ years is not worth it in order to achieve Financial Independence when its not necessary to do in the first place. Think about past experiences when you were the happiest. Try to list at least three of the most recent times when you were really happy. Did you have money in your hands? Did your bank account display a larger than usual number? Probably not. If you are like me or like most other people then you were probably with your family, your friends, or engaged in a hobby that you’re passionate about.
So don’t go chasing money just for financial independence. It might make you miserable. Don’t choose a degree just for the high income. Any college major can bring you financial independence, at least eventually. You might be a lot happier along the way if you choose one for the right reasons.
There really are no 7 best college majors for financial independence. The highest paying majors do include Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Finance, Economics, and Accounting. Any college major can offer you the opportunity to achieve financial independence. There is never going to be a perfect major or a perfect job because we are all different. You should enjoy the journey to financial independence just as much as you enjoy the destination.