A new study reveals the most common college degrees among millionaires.
If you're trying to decide on a college major, you could do worse than pick one that's popular among millionaires. After all, college is an investment - one you hope will pay off. And a million times or more would be nice.
So you may be interested to know that a new study by an international wealth consultancy group, WealthInsight, in association with Spear's magazine, assessed roughly 70,000 millionaires worldwide (people with a net worth over $1 million) to see what college degrees they held. Surprisingly, college dropouts, like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, didn't skew the data as much as one might think - only about one percent of millionaires in the study did not obtain a college degree.
Of course, you'll want to keep in mind that while the study found these degrees to be most common among millionaires, that doesn't mean just anyone who studies one of these majors will get the same result.
All that said, without further ado, we present the degrees most earned by millionaires.
An engineering degree, according to the WealthInsight study, has resulted in more millionaires worldwide than any other. If you believe in making the world a better place through innovation, you might be interested in pursuing this degree as well.
Why It Could Pay Off: Engineering majors could make a very good salary right out of college, says Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. In addition, he says, engineers are innovators, which means they have the ability to create new and valuable products that, if combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, can result in a lot of success.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.
Potential Career Path:* Mechanical Engineer. These engineers design, build, and test mechanical devices like tools, machines, and engines, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Mechanical engineers have a median annual salary of $80,580, according to the Department of Labor. Not millionaire status, but certainly not bad.
The objective of business is to make money, so it would make sense that an MBA is number two on the millionaire degree list, according to the WealthInsight study. It's also the top graduate degree among millionaires. So if you'd like to refine your business smarts, then you might want to add an MBA to your roster, too.
Why It Could Pay Off: Carnevale says that if you are already in business and pursue an MBA, it has the most potential for payoff. He adds that those who concentrate on finance, business economics, or accounting will gain the most from this degree. "This degree is designed to help people lead companies," he says, "and that usually pays off."
Next step: Click to Find the Right MBA Program.
Potential Career Path:* Financial Manager. These professionals plan and direct the financial arm of organizations to ensure they remain successful and healthy, says the U.S. Department of Labor. And while this occupation may not have you sitting upon millions of dollars yourself, you may still be able to make a substantial pile of green. Financial managers have a median annual salary of $109,740, reports the Department of Labor.
Degree #3: Bachelor's in Economics
With economics coming in third on the WealthInsight list, these majors do indeed make great millionaires. If studying the trade of goods and services in our economy appeals to you, then you might want to consider majoring in economics - you'd be in good company.
Why It Could Pay Off: "Economics is a powerful degree, because it's very practical and flexible. It arms you with a deep knowledge of how buying and selling works. With it, someone can go into any number of businesses or can start their own with confidence," says Lisa Adams, career management coach and founder of Fresh Air Careers, a career coaching firm.
Potential Career Path:* Budget Analyst. These professionals help both public and private organizations organize their finances by analyzing and strategizing budgets, says the U.S. Department of Labor. While this role is all about the flow of money, don't assume you'll be getting your millionaire membership card. Budget analysts have a median annual salary of $69,280, notes the Department of Labor.
Degree #4: Juris Doctor in Law
With the high cost of legal services, it might not come as a surprise that a law degree is ranked fourth on the WealthInsight list. If you find the legal system fascinating, you may also want to study in the field of law.
Why It Could Pay Off: Graduates of law school commonly make a tremendous salary right out of the school gates, says Nancy Tetreaux, a communication and career coach with 20 years experience in human resources management.
Potential Career Path:* Lawyer. Lawyers advise and represent clients on legal issues and disputes, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They research and analyze legal problems as well as prepare and file legal documents, such as contracts, deeds, and lawsuits. According to the Department of Labor, lawyers have a median annual salary of $113,530. Not exactly a million, but six-figures is definitely a nice number.
Another win for business administration - this time at the bachelor's level. Sure enough, this major ranks fifth on WealthInsight's list of most popular degrees earned by millionaires. And if you'd like to learn the fundamentals of business, this may be the right degree for you, too.
Why It Could Pay Off: People with business administration degrees tend to be highly successful, because they're usually very driven and have a true entrepreneurial spirit, says Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and author of About.com's Guide to Human Resources. "And a business degree gives them a good, broad understanding of the basics of business and how to build successful companies. It's a good base for branching out into any industry," she says.
Potential Career Path:* Human Resources Manager. These professionals oversee such things as an organization's recruiting, hiring, and training of employees, says the U.S. Department of Labor. And while this career wouldn't realistically make you a millionaire, it still has the potential to pay pretty well. The Department of Labor reports that human resources managers have a median annual salary of $99,720.
The major of commerce ranked sixth in the WealthInsight study, but it's mostly offered at universities outside of the U.S. So if you don't plan on studying abroad anytime soon, you may be more interested in the next degree on the list - accounting - which came in at seventh.
Why It Could Pay Off: Accounting is a major that can result in ample personal wealth for some obvious reasons, says Heathfield. She points to the fact that accounting at the college level teaches individuals more than just number-crunching, but also about how to build wealth, create greater profits at companies, and how to negotiate complicated tax law.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
Potential Career Path:* Accountant. These whizzes prepare and examine financial records, make sure taxes are prepared and paid, and help organizations run efficiently, says the U.S. Department of Labor. Although your paychecks may be lacking those extra zeros to make you a millionaire, this career still has the potential to pay a pretty penny. Accountants have a median annual salary of $63,550, according to the Department of Labor.