Like most people considering college, you’d probably like to get the most bang for your buck from your higher education ventures. However, if math isn’t your strong suit, you may feel like your options are limited. Although most of today’s top-earning degrees indeed require high levels of proficiency in mathematics, you don’t have to be a whiz with numbers to emerge from college with excellent earning potential.
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One of the best ways to pinpoint degrees or majors that offer outstanding earning potential is by focusing on programs that don’t heavily revolve around science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are collectively referred to as STEM. Therefore, putting an emphasis on non-STEM majors is a great way to zero in on degree programs that don’t require copious amounts of math but still allow you to make great money throughout your career.
As you will see, many of the top-earning non-STEM degrees prepare students for careers in fields that, at first glance, appear to require a lot of math know-how. For example, registered nurses, or R.N.s, must complete courses in biology and chemistry, which typically require an understanding of introductory algebra. However, unlike top-earning degrees that mostly revolve around engineering, most of the coursework falls into non-math-related categories.
Without further ado, here are 10 degrees or majors that don’t require tons of math but still prepare you for a lifetime of high earning potential:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the median annual salary for registered nurses in 2020 was $75,330, or $36.22 per hour. Nursing jobs are plentiful, but most employers these days prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees. Although you can earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, or ADN, to become an R.N., obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, is the more practical way to go.
Obtaining a BSN involves completing a four-year bachelor’s degree program. In most cases, you’ll need two to three years of high school math to qualify, and you can expect to take at least one college-level algebra course. Otherwise, your studies will involve two years of general education requirements followed by two years of nursing courses and clinical rotations.
For the general education portion of this degree program, you can expect to complete courses spanning topics like history, social sciences, composition and, yes, basic math. Once that is out of the way, however, you’ll move onto the more nursing-specific courses – and these don’t tend to involve much math at all. Examples of nursing courses that you will complete to earn your BSN include the following:
- anatomy and physiology
- community health nursing
- nursing care
- nurse leadership
- medical and surgical care
- home health care
You will also have to complete several credit hours’ worth of clinical studies at local healthcare facilities, where you will typically work under an R.N. to learn the skills you’ll need to earn your license.
The ultimate goal of any BSN program is to prepare students to take and pass the NCLEX-RN, the licensing exam for registered nurses. There are nearly 1,000 baccalaureate nursing programs in the U.S., and the average tuition ranges from $72,000 to $104,000 for a four-year program.
2. Graphic Design
Since modern graphic design typically involves computers, it’s easy to assume that you’ll need a lot of math to earn a degree in this field. However, graphic design degree programs tend to focus far more on building portfolios and internships rather than on demonstrating mathematical acumen.
According to the BLS, the median pay for graphic designers in 2020 was $53,380 per year, or $25.66 per hour. These professionals create visual concepts to communicate various ideas, and they are typically work in publishing, public relations, advertising and specialized design services. For example, many corporations have on-staff graphic designers who focus on marketing products and services through visual work.
To become a graphic designer, you’ll want to earn a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. After completing your general education requirements, you’ll delve into graphic design coursework involving topics like design theory, motion graphics, portfolio development, interactive publishing and photography.
Examples of the types of courses you can expect to take to earn your degree in graphic design include the following:
- conceptual and practical design fundamentals
- principles of design and color
- graphics for the web
- multimedia and animation
- desktop publishing
With a degree in graphic design, you’ll qualify for all kinds of well-paying jobs within the field. Many graphic designers specialize in UX design, U.I. design, production art or web design. Since you will develop a portfolio during your degree program, you’ll emerge with a sample of your work that you can use to obtain jobs in many fields, including digital media, advertising and public relations, product and industrial design and animation and multimedia.
3. Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Contrary to popular belief, many non-STEM degrees can help you qualify for high-paying jobs in the healthcare field. By earning a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography, for example, you can pursue a career as a medical sonographer. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median yearly salary of $70,380 in 2020, equal to about $34 per hour.
Also known as diagnostic imaging workers, medical sonographers operate specialized imaging equipment to produce images and conduct tests that physicians use to assess and diagnose various medical conditions. Their responsibilities include preparing patients, maintaining and preparing diagnostic imaging equipment and operating such equipment to produce images of various bodily organs and tissues.
Although an associate degree is usually enough to get your foot in the door as a medical sonographer, most employers prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees. The best degree programs for diagnostic medical sonography are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP.
While completing your bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography, you’ll complete various general education requirements before progressing to more technical subjects. For example, you’ll focus on courses related to human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and laboratory equipment. A clinical component is also usually required, so you can expect to work under an experienced technician in a doctor’s office, imaging lab, hospital or other healthcare facilities as part of your training.
More than 300 colleges and universities offer degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography, and the average cost for tuition is $15,900 per year.
4. Business Administration
It’s easy to assume that you’ll need to become a wealth manager or other financial professional with extensive math experience to make money in the business world. However, by pursuing a degree in business administration, you can tap into incredible earning potential without having to cram your head with math-related topics.
According to the BLS, administrative services and facility managers, as business administrators are classified, earned a median annual salary of $98,890 in 2020, which is equal to about $47.54 per hour. These professionals work in a broad array of industries. Generally speaking, they direct, coordinate and plan various activities and procedures to keep organizations running effectively.
Typically, you need a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field to qualify for jobs in business administration. These days, numerous colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in business administration. Specializations include human resources management, supply chain management and health services management.
While completing a degree program in business administration, you can expect to complete courses like these:
- principles of macroeconomics
- operating expenses
- legal environment of business
- computing in the business world
- communication in business
- business law and ethics
- office administration
- human relations
Professionals in business administration work in various fields and industries, including healthcare, educational services, local government and insurance.
5. Public Relations
Earning a degree in public relations is a great way to tap into incredible lifelong earning potential. According to the BLS, public relations professionals earned a median salary of $62,810 per year, or $30.20 per hour, in 2020. The field is in demand and still growing, so job opportunities will continue to abound for the foreseeable future.
P.R. specialists help produce and maintain a favorable public image for their clients. They work in many settings, including non-profits, schools, corporations and government agencies. Most obtain their qualifications by earning degrees in communications.
Today, many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s programs in public relations – typically through theirs schools or journalism or communication. Such programs teach students the fundamentals of issuing statements and press releases to the public, working with journalists and other critical aspects of the job. Examples of the types of courses that you can expect to complete while earning a degree in public relations include the following:
- introduction to public relations
- public relations writing
- public relations research
- public relations strategy
- media ethics
- communication law
- introduction to mass communication
In addition to completing general education requirements and coursework specific to communication and public relations, candidates for such degrees must usually complete a project demonstrating their knowledge of handling and managing a P.R. campaign. Internships are also often part of such programs.
Additionally, candidates for degrees in public relations typically work on and complete portfolios during their training. In addition to providing proof to instructors of their acumen, these portfolios may later be used to help qualify for various jobs within the field.
These types of degree programs cost an average of $10,000 to $40,000 per year, depending on location, whether it’s provided by a private or public college or university and other factors.
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6. Construction Management
While many construction jobs involve engineering, which requires copious amounts of math, construction management is different. Construction managers supervise, coordinate, plan and create budgets for construction projects from beginning to end. As a managerial position, construction management involves overseeing other employees. These professionals build roads and bridges as well as residential, commercial, industrial and public structures of all kinds. According to the BLS, they earned a median annual salary of $97,180 in 2020, equivalent to about $47 per hour.
Also known as general contractors and project managers, construction managers typically earn bachelor’s degrees in construction management before entering the field. More than 100 colleges and universities offer construction management and construction science programs, so there are plenty of options. These programs typically take four years to complete. Some are available as online or hybrid options, adding more flexibility for busy adults.
Degree programs in construction management teach students about common construction methods, project management basics, building materials and cost analysis. Through this training, you’ll develop decision-making skills, leadership skills and critical thinking skills. Examples of the types of courses that are required include the following:
- construction safety
- loss prevention
- estimating and cost analysis
- courses involving pertinent local, state and federal guidelines
A degree in construction management opens the door to many lucrative career paths, including managerial positions with exceptional earning potential.
7. Paralegal Studies
If you’re interested in the field of law but don’t want to deal with law school, becoming a paralegal can be a great way to earn good money through non-STEM majors. According to the BLS, paralegals and legal assistants, as they’re also known, earned a median salary of $52,920 per year in 2020, which is equivalent to $25.44 per hour.
Paralegals perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers and attorneys. These may include conducting research on regulations and laws, gathering and investigating facts, organizing and maintaining documents and writing and summarizing reports. These professionals help lawyers prepare for functions like corporate meetings, trials and hearings. Specializations within the field include litigation paralegals and corporate paralegals.
Many paralegals break into the field after earning associate degrees. However, more opportunities – and better pay – is often available to those who obtain bachelor’s degrees instead. Typically, an aspiring legal assistant will earn a bachelor’s degree in social science or business before earning certifications in paralegal studies.
You can also consider completing a degree program in paralegal studies. Currently, there are more than 260 such programs in the U.S. The best ones are accredited by the American Bar Association, or ABA. However, none of them are offered entirely online.
During your training to earn a degree as a paralegal, you will complete courses involving legal research, corporate law, international law, legal writing and the legal application of computers. Depending on the program, you may specialize in certain areas of law, including immigration law, family law, criminal law or corporate law.
These programs also usually require the completion of general classes involving criminal justice, research methodologies and professional writing. You can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to more than $50,000 to complete a degree program in paralegal studies.
People who earn bachelor’s degrees in marketing can pursue a wide array of career paths. Some of these paths are pretty lucrative, and marketing management is a great example. According to the BLS, advertising, promotions and marketing managers, as they are referred to, earned a median salary of $141,490, or $68.03 per hour, in 2020. Happily, most marketing degree programs require only elementary math, so you don’t have to worry about crunching too many numbers to get there.
Marketing managers create programs to generate buzz about products and services. Advertising agencies and corporations typically employ them, but they can be found across many other industries too. As managers, they are responsible for hiring staff, building teams, planning and outlining strategies and managing budgets.
The most crucial step in becoming a marketing manager is earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from an accredited college or university. Introductory courses that are usually required include business law, economics and statistics. From there, students progress into marketing-centric courses like marketing statistics, marketing strategy and marketing research.
While earning a marketing degree, you may elect to choose a concentration that will increase your odds of success in the field of marketing management. Popular examples include social media marketing, business analytics, global marketing and consumer behavior.
9. Occupational Health and Safety
Another field with high earning potential that doesn’t require a degree involving a lot of math is occupational health and safety. According to the BLS, occupational health and safety specialists, or OHS specialists, earned a median salary of $72,530 in 2020, equivalent to around $35 per hour. Nearly 120,000 such professionals currently work in the field, which is expected to grow by another 7% or so over the next decade.
OHS specialists analyze work environments and procedures, ensuring that safety, health and environmental procedures and regulations are followed. They perform inspections, prepare reports, design and implement safety processes and procedures and educate employers and employees about workplace safety.
Most OHS specialists have bachelor’s degrees in occupational health and safety. Many colleges and universities offer degrees and majors in this subject, and the best ones are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, also known as ABET. These programs include courses involving everything from accident prevention to ergonomics.
Examples of the types of courses you will complete while earning a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety include the following:
- construction safety management
- fundamentals of occupational health and safety
- accident investigation
- hazardous materials training
- fire safety
- industrial hygiene
During your studies, you will obtain skills in risk management and across many legal, financial and technology-related topics. Ultimately, you will develop a comprehensive understanding of the processes, standards and challenges inherent in workplace safety. You will learn how to identify, communicate, and address various workplace safety concerns, giving you the credentials you need to obtain employment across many workplaces, including offices, factories, schools, hospitals, and construction sites.
10. Nutritional Science
Another great way to break into a lucrative role in the healthcare field without having to earn a math-heavy STEM degree is by pursuing a career as a nutritionist or dietitian. Per the BLS, professionals in this field earned a median salary of $63,090 per year in 2020, equivalent to around $30 per hour. The field is projected to grow by 11% over the next decade, ensuring plenty of opportunities for those with pertinent degrees.
Nutritionists and dietitians coordinate, plan and carry out food service and nutritional programs to help manage diseases and to help people lead healthier lifestyles. They often earn bachelor’s degrees in nutritional science and dietetics, which are offered by numerous colleges and universities across the country.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, food and nutrition typically takes four years. The best programs are accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Examples of courses that you will complete beyond general studies include food science, life cycle and nutritional counseling. Additional science courses, including chemistry, microbiology and physiology, may also be required. To earn your degree, you may also have to complete an internship or other types of clinical training.
In addition to qualifying for jobs as a nutritionist or dietitian, earning this type of degree can open doors for careers in areas like sports nutrition, health coaching and public health.
Many Non-Stem Majors Have High Earning Potential, After All!
As evidenced by the degree programs outlined above, you don’t have to earn a degree requiring a lot of mathematical acumen to land a lucrative job. By earning your degree in one of these subjects, you can tap into incredible earning potential without being ultra-talented at math, so keep that in mind as you explore the various options. Many of the programs highlighted above are offered both in-person and online, making them flexible options for people from all walks of life.