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5 majors with growing salary potential in 2012

The future looks a bit brighter for this year's college grads -- especially those majoring in business, education or technology. Starting salaries are on the rise across the board, according to an April 2012 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The Class of 2012 reported a gain of 4.5 percent in median starting salary across all disciplines. Technical majors such as engineering and computer science still lead the pack with the highest starting offers. But 2012 numbers show surprising gains for applied humanities and social science majors. If you want a non-technical degree and a solid paycheck, read on to learn which majors showed the biggest salary gains in 2012.

5 majors with salaries on the rise

The following five majors saw the biggest jumps in starting salaries in 2012.

1. Economics, up 5.6 percent to $54,800

Economics majors added nearly $3K to their median starting salary for 2012, beating 2011's $51,900 wage. Finance and insurance employers fueled the bidding war for economics graduates, offering starting salaries in the neighborhood of $57,000. The lucky and talented graduates who were able to snag a financial manager job saw an average salary of $64,000.

With experience, these grads can expect a six-figure salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial managers earned a median wage of $103,910 in 2010.

2. Education, up 4.5 percent to $37,423

Sure, teaching is a labor of love. But new teachers are sure to love the higher starting salaries this year too. Education disciplines reported the highest increases across all major fields. Special education majors were the best performers, with a median 2012 salary of $42,200, a 2.2 percent increase over 2011. Education also earned distinction as the industry hiring the most new bachelor's degree graduates, regardless of major. With nearly 300,000 new graduates expected in 2012, education stands to hire 40 percent more bachelor's degree holders than even the booming health care industry.

3. Communications, up 3.8 percent to $40,022

Communications, which includes journalism and advertising as well as general communications, gained for the second year in a row. Advertising majors posted a 4 percent increase last year, only to add another 3 percent premium onto their salaries in 2012, for starting salaries above $50,00. In 2012, the biggest communications paychecks went to advertising majors who secured management jobs, earning a median starting salary of $59,400.

Experience pays off in advertising. Advertising managers earned a median salary of $108,260 in 2010, according to bls.gov.

4. Math and sciences, up 2.5 percent to $40,939

Math and science majors built on modest 1.1 percent growth last year with a median 2012 starting salary of $40,939, 2.5 percent higher than 2011. Top employers in high-growth industries such as professional, scientific and technical services offered average starting salaries above $55,000.

5. Computer science, up 2.4 percent to $56,383

This year's salary increase follows on the heels of 2011's dramatic 4.1 percent increase, the biggest gain of all disciplines that year. The information sector, the major employer of computer science graduates, paid out a generous average starting salary of $64,400 in 2012. Information also ranked as the second highest-paying industry for all majors, with an average salary of $54,392.

As the job market improves, college grads can reap the benefits. You don't have to be an engineer to find a job you love with a salary potential that's looking up.

 

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