The 10 highest-paying college majors

As the cost of college continues to skyrocket and U.S. student debt totals rise, selecting a major in a field that pays well and offers long-term professional opportunities can be a crucial decision for students.

“Choosing a major might seem like no big deal, but it’s one of the few choices you make as a 19- or 20-year-old that can have an outsized impact on your entire career — and possibly your whole life,” Chris Kolmar, co-founder of career planning site Zippia, tells CNBC Make It.

Zippia analyzed the most recent Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data from the American Community Survey (ACS), to determine the average annual income of graduates with 174 college majors. When looking at workers between the ages of 29 and 31 who were employed the whole year and worked at least 35 hours per week, Kolmar and his team found that petroleum engineering stands out as the highest-paying college major — by far.

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