Bachelor degrees with the highest salary potential

Thousands of students who recently received their matric results will start their tertiary studies at university in the coming weeks.

While students are encouraged to follow their passion and study what they love, the earning potential of the different fields vary significantly.

A generic BA degree may provide students with a pleasant university life and interesting philosophical debates, but these graduates will typically earn far less than their engineering counterparts.

MyBroadband’s 2015 qualifications and salary survey asked South African professionals what their starting salary was as a new graduate.

The results revealed that engineering graduates enjoy the highest starting salaries, followed by BEd and BSc graduates.

The table below shows the average salary, median salary, and the 25th and 75th percentiles of starting salaries for recent graduates.

Starting salaries per qualification
Average starting salary
Median starting salary
25% quantile
75% quantile
BSc Engineering or BEng Degrees R19,069 R20,000 R15,000 R24,000
BEd Degrees R15,825 R16,000 R14,850 R16,787
General BSc Degrees R14,541 R12,000 R8,000 R20,250
BSc Computer Science or IT Degrees R14,452 R15,000 R8,000 R19,000
BTech Degrees R13,008 R11,500 R7,875 R14,500
BCom Degrees R11,070 R10,000 R8,000 R13,000
BA Degrees R9,534 R8,000 R6,875 R12,750
Diploma R6,814 R6,000 R4,000 R8,750
Matric R5,830 R4,975 R3,000 R6,500
Certification R5,777 R5,500 R3,000 R7,000

Degrees with the highest earning potential

PayScale’s 2015-2016 College Salary Report, which is based on salaries in the United States, sheds light on the earning potential of different Bachelor Degrees.

It is not surprising that engineering, computer science, and scientific degrees top the list for earning potential.

The report highlights that choosing the right degree and subjects will have a huge impact on a student’s future salary.

It should be noted that the earning potential for this list, below, is skewed towards the United States market.

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineering is concerned with the activities related to the production of hydrocarbons – which can be either crude oil or natural gas.

Petroleum Engineer

Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineering deals with the application of the breakdown (fission) as well as the fusion of atomic nuclei and/or the application of other sub-atomic physics.

Nuclear Engineer

Actuarial Mathematics

Actuarial science applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in insurance, finance, and other industries. Actuaries are professionals who are qualified in this field through intense education and experience.


Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering applies physical sciences (physics and chemistry) and life sciences (microbiology and biochemistry) together with applied mathematics and economics to produce, transform, transport, and properly use chemicals, materials, and energy.

Chemical Engineer

Electronics Engineering

Electronics engineering, or electronic engineering, utilises non-linear and active electrical components (such as electron tubes and semiconductor devices – especially transistors, diodes, and integrated circuits) to design electronic circuits, devices, and systems.

Electronics Engineer

Communications Engineering

Telecommunications engineering brings together all electrical engineering disciplines, including computer engineering with systems engineering, to enhance telecommunication systems.

Communications Engineer

Computer Science

Computer science spans theory and practice, requiring thinking in abstract and concrete terms. Nowadays, practically everyone is a computer user, and many people are computer programmers.

Computer Science

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism.

Electrical engineer

Systems Engineering

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realisation of successful systems. Systems must satisfy the needs of their customers, users, and other stakeholders.

Project engineer

Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering is concerned with the development of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering.

Aerospace Engineer

Computer Engineering

Computer engineering is a discipline that integrates the fields of electrical engineering and computer science required to develop computer hardware and software.

Hacker coder developer software programmer alphanumeric matrix

Mining Engineering

Mining engineering involves the practice, theory, science, technology, and application of extracting and processing minerals from the environment.

Mining Engineer

Computer Science and Mathematics

Computer science with Mathematics sees learners study numbers, quantity, space, structure, and change.


Industrial Distribution

Industrial distribution companies provide products, parts, services, and solutions to users primarily in one of two categories: Maintenance, repair, and operations of their production facilities; or the manufacture of equipment, machinery, goods, and products.

Industrial Distribution


Physics is the natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force.


Materials Science and Engineering

The traditional examples of materials are metals, semiconductors, ceramics, and polymers. New and advanced materials that are being developed include nanomaterials and biomaterials.

The basis of materials science involves studying the structure of materials, and relating them to their properties.

Materials Science

Applied Mathematics

Applied mathematics is a branch of mathematics that deals with mathematical methods which find use in science, engineering, business, computer science, and industry.

Applied Mathematics

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is the discipline that applies the principles of engineering, physics, and materials science for the design, analysis, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems.

Mechanical engineer

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Bachelor degrees with the highest salary potential