People With These College Majors Get the Biggest Pay Raises

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By Rachel Gillett and Jacquelyn Smith

In some jobs, you have to wait until you've got some experience under your belt before you begin to see a substantial payday — but when it comes, you'll be thankful you paid your dues.

PayScale recently looked at salary data from this year's College Salary Report and analyzed the difference between starting (less than five years of experience) and mid-career (10 or more years of experience) pay by college major.

While salary-growth potential shouldn't necessarily encourage students to pursue a particular major, it's an important consideration to make when thinking about the future.

Here are the 20 college majors with the greatest increases in wage between early- and mid-career.

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College majors with the biggest pay raises
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People With These College Majors Get the Biggest Pay Raises

Common jobs: Research physicist, electrical engineer, professor

Starting median pay: $55,500 

Mid-career median pay: $106,000 

Increase in pay: $50,500 / 91%

Common jobs: Advertising account supervisor, media manager

Starting median pay: $41,300

Mid-career median pay: $78,900

Increase in pay: $37,600 / 91%

Common jobs: Biologist, chemist, professor

Starting median pay: $41,100

Mid-career median pay: $79,600

Increase in pay: $38,500 / 94%

Common jobs: Advertising manager, brand manager, copywriter

Starting median pay: $41,500

Mid-career median pay: $80,400

Increase in pay: $38,900 / 94%

Common jobs: Research scientist, research associate

Starting median pay: $43,400

Mid-career median pay: $84,500

Increase in pay: $41,100 / 95%

Common jobs: Market research analyst, public-relations specialist

Starting median pay: $42,000

Mid-career median pay: $82,000

Increase in pay: $40,000 / 95%

Common jobs: Agricultural and food scientist, biomedical engineer, forensic scientist

Starting median pay: $41,400

Mid-career median pay: $81,500

Increase in pay: $40,100 / 97%

Common jobs: Meteorologist

Starting median pay: $45,300

Mid-career median pay: $89,500

Increase in pay: $44,200 / 98%

Common jobs: Arts administrator, drama therapist, theatre director

Starting median pay: $37,800

Mid-career median pay: $75,000

Increase in pay: $37,200 / 98%

Common jobs: Physicist, data scientist

Starting median pay: $50,900

Mid-career median pay: $101,000

Increase in pay: $50,100 / 98%

Common jobs: Computer programmer, human-resources specialist, health science administrator

Starting median pay: $51,400

Mid-career median pay: $102,000

Increase in pay: $50,600 / 98%

Common jobs: Attorney, minister, journalist

Starting median pay: $42,200

Mid-career median pay: $85,000

Increase in pay: $42,800 / 101%

Common jobs: Technical writer, production assistant, editor

Starting median pay: $37,700

Mid-career median pay: $76,100

Increase in pay: $38,400 / 102%

Common jobs: Actuary, actuarial analyst

Starting median pay: $58,800

Mid-career median pay: $119,000

Increase in pay: $60,200 / 102%

Common jobs: Aviation/aerospace program manager, corporate-jet pilot

Starting median pay: $44,900

Mid-career median pay: $91,300

Increase in pay: $46,400 / 103%

Common jobs: Biologist, research scientist, research associate

Starting median pay: $43,000

Mid-career median pay: $88,200

Increase in pay: $45,200 / 105%

Common jobs: Campaign worker, congressional aide, attorney

Starting median pay: $42,600

Mid-career median pay: $88,200

Increase in pay: $45,600 / 107%

Common jobs: Molecular biologist, research scientist, research associate

Starting median pay: $44,100

Mid-career median pay: $91,400

Increase in pay: $47,300 / 107%

Common jobs: Campaign worker, attorney, activist

Starting median pay: $40,300

Mid-career median pay: $85,600

Increase in pay: $45,300 / 112%

Common jobs: Campaign worker, lobbyist, political consultant

Starting median pay: $46,900

Mid-career median pay: $102,000

Increase in pay: $55,100 / 118%

Find out how your salary stacks up on PayScale.

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