Four Year Degree Jobs: A Guide To The Top Careers

4 year college degree

While it may seem like a college degree isn’t important, it is. College graduates are competitive applicants for the best four year degree jobs. Here, we will take a look at these jobs.

Exploring Career Pathways with a College Degree

By definition, 4 year degree jobs refer to occupations that require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. These jobs usually require employees to possess appropriate technical knowledge and transferable skills. College graduates acquired them through didactic courses, laboratory courses, and field experiences.

With a bachelor’s degree, new graduates can unlock excellent job opportunities. But a college degree isn’t just about increased earning potential. A college degree also brings non-monetary benefits, such as increased job satisfaction. 

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Do I need a bachelor’s degree? Why earn a college degree when many successful individuals don’t have it? These are oft-repeated questions in light of the success of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. 

These are, however, exceptions, not the rule. For many individuals, a college degree brings several benefits to their lives. 

Improved Networking Opportunities

Building an extensive personal and professional network is crucial for success among college graduates. The people in your network can provide referrals for job openings, make letters of recommendation, and provide mentorship for career success. 

Your time as a college student is an excellent opportunity to build your network. Be sure to join networking events, such as career and job fairs, workshops and seminars, and industry conventions. 

Increased Access to Job Opportunities

Many of the well-paying occupations listed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics List of SOC Occupations require a bachelor’s degree. These include management, business and finance, and engineering and architecture occupations discussed below. Indeed, a bachelor’s degree opens job opportunities with the promise of career advancement with more work experience. 

Increased Earning Potential and Job Stability 

In the BLS Education Pays data, individuals with bachelor’s degrees earn $1,493 in median weekly wages. This is $435 higher than individuals with an associate degree. The increased earning potential makes earning a bachelor’s degree worth it.

Individuals with a bachelor’s degree are also less likely to be unemployed, with a 2.2% unemployment rate. College graduates are also less likely to live in poverty. The combination means more economic stability and security. 

Improved Job Satisfaction

Studies have shown that a bachelor’s degree contributes to improved long-term job satisfaction. The reasons include enjoying more on-the-job perks, earning security of tenure, and being recognized for their contributions. 

Increased Return on Investment

Since college graduates earn higher incomes, their return on investment is higher, too. You can pay off your student loans, recoup the costs of your college education, and enjoy positive returns sooner. 

Exploring Career Options with a Bachelor’s Degree

What types of jobs would require a 4-year degree? These are usually professional jobs that lead to leadership roles. Many professionals in these jobs also possess licenses or certifications that demonstrate their expertise in their fields. 

A few examples of jobs that require a four-year bachelor’s degree are: 

  • General business managers, marketing managers, and production managers 
  • Financial analysts, management consultants, insurance underwriters  
  • K-12 teachers and school counselors
  • Registered nurses
  • Engineers and architects 
  • Software developers and engineers 
  • Social workers 

The job advertisements for these occupations usually list a bachelor’s degree as the first requirement. Then, work experience, specific technical skills, and preferred soft skills are listed next. This demonstrates that, indeed, college graduates have a competitive advantage. 

High-Demand Careers for College Graduates

Here, we take a close look at the highest-paying 4 years college careers based on the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these occupations, more than 170 require a bachelor’s degree. Many of these occupations also have the highest projected annual job growth. This means college graduates can look forward to plenty of job opportunities in these areas. 

Note that the median annual wage for all occupations is $48,060 (May 2023). We selected occupations requiring bachelor’s degrees with significantly higher median annual wages.  

Management Occupations

Professionals in management occupations create policies and plans, manage business activities, and direct day-to-day operations. The projected job growth in these occupations is about 1.1 million openings every year, on average. With a $116,880 median annual wage, these occupations are among the highest-paid professionals. 

  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Architectural and engineering managers
  • Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers
  • Compensation and benefits managers
  • Human resources managers

A bachelor’s degree is an entry-level requirement for managers. Relevant work experience, on-the-job training, and excellent work performance are also considered for promotions. 

Business and Finance Occupations 

Professionals in business and finance occupations are also among the highest-paid workers with bachelor’s degrees. Their jobs involve managing the day-to-day operations of businesses and managing their finances. 

The projected job growth – about 911,400 new openings every year, on average – means excellent job opportunities for new college graduates. Their median annual wage of $79,050 means a good quality of life, too. 

  • Accountants and auditors
  • Budget analysts
  • Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists
  • Human resources specialists 
  • Labor relations specialists

Architecture and Engineering Occupations

Architects and engineers possess bachelor’s degrees in their fields, too, and state-issued licenses. These professionals are employed in diverse industries, including construction, healthcare, and education.  

With a faster-than-average job growth of 188,000 new openings every year, on average, architects and engineers are in high demand. Their median annual wage of $91,420 means good living, too. 

  • Aerospace engineers
  • Agricultural engineers 
  • Bioengineers and biomedical engineers
  • Civil, mechanical, and industrial engineers
  • Computer hardware engineers
  • Architects 

Legal Occupations

Being in the legal industry also pays off. The median annual wage of $99,220 for workers in legal occupations makes it attractive to college students. 

Of the legal occupations, arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators possess bachelor’s degrees. Their job involves facilitating negotiations and mediation between conflicting parties. Federal, state, and local governments, as well as the legal services industry, are their popular workplaces. Their job pays well, too, at $71,540 in median annual wages. 

Healthcare Occupations 

The growing population combined with the aging population is fueling the increase in demand for healthcare workers. The technological advancements in healthcare, the increased need for public health services, and the need for more healthcare administrators are also cited as reasons. 

Healthcare professionals provide clients and patients with products and services that maintain physical and mental health. Their jobs may be challenging at times, but their sense of satisfaction and good incomes make up for it.

While their salaries differ widely, the median wage for healthcare professionals is $80,820 per year. Healthcare professionals with bachelor’s degrees include: 

  • Medical and health services managers
  • Medical dosimetrists
  • Registered nurses
  • Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
  • Dietitians and nutritionists

Computer and Information Technology Occupations

We live in a technology-driven world where computers are ever-present. Professionals in computer and information technology occupations are in high demand. These workers create, install, and support computer networks, systems, and applications.

Their median wage of $104,420 per year is among the highest for professionals with bachelor’s degrees. 

  • Computer network architects
  • Computer programmers
  • Computer systems analysts
  • Database administrators and architects
  • Information security analysts

The bottom line: Your bachelor’s degree isn’t just a piece of paper. You have a valuable credential that will open doors to job opportunities.  

Advantages of Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree

Of course, earning a bachelor’s degree also brings non-monetary benefits that will enrich your life. Your knowledge and skills are yours for the rest of your life, a form of wealth that cannot be stolen. 

Preparation for Career Specialization

What is after a bachelor’s degree? You must ask yourself this question if you want to maximize your college education. 

Your bachelor’s degree is a stepping stone toward advanced education and training. Earning a master’s degree and professional certifications are excellent options. These post-baccalaureate credentials show your strong commitment to professional advancement. 

Let’s say you have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. You can earn an MBA with a Human Resources Management specialization. Your resume can be more attractive with the SHRM Senior Certified Professional certification. 

With these credentials, your access to career advancement opportunities increases. You can, for example, get promoted from manager to executive director in human resources. 

Path Toward Personal Growth 

The college experience isn’t only about gaining the knowledge and skills for employment. You will also find the college experience to be rewarding and fulfilling on a personal level. Your college experiences can be empowering and boost your confidence and competence. 

You will gain the confidence, for example, to overcome complex challenges in your life. Your exposure to individuals from different backgrounds will expand your horizons. Your college experiences can awaken your passion for personal growth and lifelong learning. 

Develop Soft Skills 

Your exceptional soft skills will make you stand out from every Tom, Dick, and Harry who graduated with a bachelor’s degree. For this reason, you must make a conscious effort to develop your soft skills while in college. 

Soft skills, or transferable skills, are character traits that influence your interactions with others. While there are several soft skills that employers look for in prospective employees, the most important include: 

  • Communication skills 
  • Critical thinking and analytical thinking skills 
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Time management and organization 
  • Creativity and resourcefulness 
  • Problem-solving and decision-making skills 
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Public speaking and presentation skills 
  • Adaptability and flexibility 
  • Teamwork and collaboration 
  • Willingness to learn and share knowledge 

Keep in mind that balance is the key when it comes to soft skills. No soft skill beats other soft skills in terms of importance. You will use a combination of soft skills in every situation in your everyday life and work. 

Financial Considerations: Investing in Your Education

But while many careers requiring a four year degree are among the highest-paying occupations, earning a college degree isn’t a walk in the park. The financial costs of earning a bachelor’s degree are a significant barrier for many students and their families. 

According to the U.S. News & World Report, the average college tuition in the 2023-2024 academic year ranged from $10,662 (public, in-state) and $23,630 (public, out-of-state) to $42,162 (private). These figures are exclusive of room and board, supplies and textbooks, and living expenses, among other costs of attendance. 

When these indirect costs are considered, the average college student in a public school can spend $36,436 per year. Indeed, a college education is a substantial investment. 

For this reason, you must be aware of the challenges that come with funding your education. Keep these strategies in mind and you should be setting in the right direction. 

Planning for College Costs 

When you plan, you plan for success – and it applies to planning for college costs. Start planning as early as your freshman year in high school. You and your parents should be a team here. 

  • Maintain good grades in high school. Your eligibility for merit-based scholarships will depend on your academic performance. 
  • Research your financial aid options as early as possible. 
  • Seek guidance from your high school counselors, financial advisors, and college financial aid officers. 
  • Ask your parents about your college fund, if any. The funds can come from their personal savings accounts, 529 college savings accounts, and your income. 
  • Research the cost of attendance in the colleges you’re interested in. Use their net tuition calculators to get a general estimate of your annual college cost. 
  • Consider effective ways of paying for your net tuition. Getting a part-time job may be necessary. 

The more information you have, the more informed your finance-related decisions will be. 

Consider Public Colleges and Universities 

Public institutions are usually more affordable than private institutions, especially for in-state/resident students. Federal and state student aid are offered in these institutions, too, along with institutional scholarships. 

You can apply to the Public Ivies, too, if you want an Ivy League education without the expensive tuition. But you will also find that many Ivy League universities meet 100% of their students’ demonstrated financial need. These include Harvard University, Princeton University, and Cornell University. 

But even when you get a full-ride scholarship, you should look for ways to cut down on your secondary costs. This way, you won’t have to take out student loans to finance your living expenses. Your first step is to create a budget and stick to it. 

Take Advantage of Every Financial Aid Available 

Apply for federal student aid (FAFSA) even when you believe that you and your family aren’t qualified. You will be surprised by the financial aid that you can receive. Besides, many state aid programs and scholarship and grant programs use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for financial aid. 

Pay Your Tuition on Time 

Not everybody can secure a full-ride scholarship, nonetheless. In this case, you must find ways to pay your tuition on time. 

  • Ask about installment payment plans.  
  • Check with your employer for education benefits, such as a tuition reimbursement program. 
  • Earn income from part-time jobs, work-study programs, or paid internships.

If you have a job, you can set up automatic transfers for your tuition payments. Think of it as one less thing to miss in your busy life. 

Maximizing Your College Experience for Career Success

While the jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree are within your reach, these aren’t guaranteed with your college degree alone. You must maximize your college experiences and prepare yourself for your career success. 

This means building a strong resume that will highlight your competitive edge over other applicants, particularly among your fellow new graduates. Your academic achievements will, of course, catch the attention of prospective employers. But hiring decisions aren’t based solely on grades – instead. a well-rounded profile will increase your chances of being hired. 

By a well-rounded profile, we mean highlighting your soft skills, meaningful learning experiences, and extensive network connections. These crucial aspects of a competitive resume are best acquired through active involvement in extracurricular activities, networking events, and internships. 

Get Involved Outside of the Classroom 

But be careful about joining every organization, event, and activity for the sake of it. You must carefully choose your extracurricular activities based on your interests, career goals, and available time. Extracurricular activities are excellent opportunities to meet new people, maintain positive relationships, and develop your soft skills. 

Network, Network, Network 

Networking in college means meeting professionals in your preferred field, learning from them, and requesting them for career-related favors. You can, for example, request them for job referrals, letters of recommendation, and introductions to people. Note, too, that the majority of jobs are filled through networking channels. 

Create and Seek Growth Opportunities 

If you haven’t cultivated a growth mindset yet, you should start now. Your passion for personal growth will fuel your ability to create and seek growth opportunities. The more personal growth you experience as a college student, the more your professional growth will benefit. 

Examples include: 

  • Establishing or joining a special interest group 
  • Keeping updated about the trends in your profession by reading industry journals and attending industry conventions 
  • Growing your knowledge and skills beyond your recommended textbooks 
  • Starting your own business to satisfy your interests and make extra income 
  • Attending workshops and seminars outside of your academic interests 
  • Seeking a mentor-mentee relationship with a trusted professor or academic advisor 

You should also take advantage of field experiences, such as internships and practicum. These are excellent opportunities to bridge the gap between knowledge and skills, apply your knowledge in real-world settings, and learn from professionals. By the time of your college graduation, your levels of confidence and competence can exceed the expectations of prospective employers. 

Scholarships and Financial Aid for College Students

Both incoming and current college students should consider every financial aid program and resources available. The Internet, with its databases and search engines, has made it possible to conduct fast, easy, and convenient searches, too. 

Here are the best financial aid resources for college students. 

  • The financial aid office of your college should be your first option. You can request more information about the financial aid process and programs.
  • The Federal Student Aid website is a must-visit site because it provides comprehensive information about federal student aid options. You can also apply for financial aid, manage your financial aid package, and communicate with concerned authorities here, too.
  • The scholarship databases are easy, effective, and convenient platforms to search for scholarships and grants. You can use filters, too, such as degree level and field of study. Examples include BrightFuture,, and Fastweb.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and the Department of Education offer education benefits for active-duty military personnel, reservists, first responders, and veterans and their spouses and dependents. Check your college for participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
  • Professional organizations and community foundations are also generous with scholarships and grants for college students. Examples include the American Society of Civil Engineers, Chicago Community Trust, and Seattle Foundation. 

If you or your parents are employed, you should also ask about your employers’ tuition assistance program, if any. Starbucks, Microsoft, and UPS are notable examples. 

Conclusion: Charting Your Path to Success with a College Degree

In summary, a bachelor’s degree is worth every penny and minute spent on earning it. Being more competitive for well-paying, entry-level jobs – and getting the job, for that matter – is a foremost benefit. When you have one foot in the door of your preferred profession, you can build on it and enjoy a rewarding career well into the future. 

But it isn’t just about your professional development and earning potential either. Your college experiences are instrumental in your personal growth, too. Your relationships in college will enrich your life, develop your life skills, and set you up for life. 

So, even when challenges stand in the way of pursuing a college education, you must persevere. If you’re persistent and patient, you will find plenty of opportunities to overcome these challenges. 

When you overcome them, you will be glad that you persevered. Of course, a bachelor’s degree isn’t the be-all and end-all of personal and professional success, but it’s an excellent foundation.