To Make a Good Salary Do You Have To Choose a Hard Degree?

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: February 14, 2024, Reading time: 6 minutes

To Make a Good Salary Do You Have To Choose a Hard Degree - featured image

High-paying jobs are often perceived as opportunities exclusively offered to college degree holders. Your educational background, therefore, can define your career path. 

When hiring, employers consider candidates’ level of education in evaluating their qualifications and, consequently, determining compensation. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics data show a decade-long trend of higher educational attainment being associated with measurably higher median earnings. It can be tough to compete for a job without a college degree. 

Does Obtaining a Job Require a University Degree?

Strictly speaking, no. Whether you have a degree or not, you may qualify for the job as long as you meet the demands and requirements of the specific employer—but expect the odds to be in favor of your college graduate peers. Here’s why:

That’s not to say non-college degree holders don’t have a chance. In fact, a lack of formal education definitely does not guarantee failure. College dropouts who became billionaires—who relied on their skills and exceeded expectations come to mind.

Not every college dropout is a success story; however in a world where formal education and training matter, those who do not hold a college diploma are expected to “work harder” to get the same opportunities. 

Hard Degrees That Result in High Salary

Hard Degrees That Result in High Salary - Image

A number of college degrees lead graduates to rewarding careers with higher salaries than most. Below are some of them that are generally considered hard degrees characterized by rigorous coursework and years-long education and training.

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering merges the principles of Biology, Medicine, and Engineering to benefit human health. Ultimately, it is a research- and development-focused discipline aimed at improving lives through breakthrough procedures, tools, and devices, such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, and 3D-printed organs.

Biomedical Engineering majors are expected to be well-versed in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics, and Medical Science—making it a hard degree that, to many, guarantees a lucrative and fulfilling career that saves lives.

Chartered Accountancy

Not everybody is into the numbers game, and an Accounting degree program isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. On its own, Accounting typically takes five years to complete, including internships that make the program tougher.

Accounting majors have a solid understanding of Computer Science, Economics, Business Management, and Mathematics. They need to stay on top of tax requisites for individuals and businesses as mandated by law.

To become chartered accountants, additional training is required to perform tasks within the spectrum of the discipline.


Physics seeks to explain the universe and how it works and requires an understanding of the principles of electromagnetic waves, minuscule subatomic particles, and everything in between. This technical field is riddled with complicated mathematical formulas and theories.

To earn a Physics degree and pursue the profession, you need to be smart and genuinely interested in this fascinating field.


Lawyers are projected to enjoy a job growth of 8% within the next decade. While it does offer a sense of job security, everyone knows that studying Law requires more than just hard work and commitment!

From criminal law to constitutional law, the complexity of legal concepts that directly affect lives can be a challenge to study. Upon earning their degree and passing the Bar exam, lawyers are set on practicing the profession and committing to lifelong learning.


Medical students don’t have it easy—but they get paid handsomely! In this field, salary and education are directly correlated. As the need for competent professionals in the medical and healthcare sector is on the rise, Medical majors are almost guaranteed work upon earning their degree.

Medical doctors of various specializations are typically doctoral degree holders who are categorized as high earners


For those who love math, studying architecture is a dream come true. But it is considered one of the hardest degrees for some.

The time commitment of an architecture degree is one of the reasons it is seen as difficult; students who are not used to managing their own time are likely to have restless nights, lengthy studio days, and an overwhelming quantity of homework.

Advantages of Earning a Hard Degree

A hard degree is the road less taken. Here’s why you should take the challenge:

You’ll never get bored.

If you’re deeply interested in a complex discipline and pursuing an equally challenging profession, forget the easy college majors and choose the hard degrees that keep boredom at bay.

You’ll acquire unique, all-important skill sets.

Your challenging coursework brings out the most capable in you! By earning a hard degree, you discover hidden capabilities that fuel your passion for your dream profession.

A hard degree is a worthy investment.

With a hard degree that keeps you challenged, you set yourself up for success in your field! You become better qualified for higher positions, leadership roles, and specialized jobs often reserved for only a handful of qualified candidates.

All these offer high pay, but salary is just one side of the story; there is a sense of fulfillment knowing you overcame what others consider to be insurmountable academic challenges.

To Make a Good Salary Do You Have To Choose a Hard Degree - fact

A number of factors influence your income, including your experience, your place of residence, and the job sector you belong to. Your level of education, however, is a telling sign of how you’ll fare in the employment game or in building your career.

It is generally expected that you will earn more with a higher level of educational attainment. With it, you stand out from your competitors! It is for this reason that you should consider challenging yourself by earning a hard degree in college.

Knowing the impact of your college degree on your earning potential can help you plan better for the future.

Additional Resources:

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.