Money isn’t everything. And we all know that it’s not. So it can sometimes feel pretty galling when the people who can’t help reminding us of this rather obvious fact are often those with a secure future and a huge bank balance to boot. Easy for them to say, right? Meanwhile, most of the rest of us quietly struggle on, silent and invisible in the main, daily juggling stressful commutes and careers with family, mortgage, credit card and other personal debt while harbouring secret ambitions to be just a little bit like them.

So what’s the difference between you and those career-climbing business superstars we’re all just a tiny bit envious of? In reality, probably not a lot. While money may or may not be everything, information most certainly is. And that’s what they’re good at, acquiring information and then sifting through it and acting upon it in a positive, beneficial way. Separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. So, do you? Or do you stumble and then disappear into a fog of indecision, like so many of us, complaining about our lot in life a mere handful of years down the road?

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Destinations of choice

You’re in a bit of a rut, going down a second-rate career path. At least that’s what you perceive it to be. But what would you have done differently, if you’d been given the chance? Sought opportunity – and the big bucks – overseas? Chased the jobs in Scotland, England, France, Germany and other European countries? What about the Middle East, for decades the destination of choice for many Americans and Brits looking to combine the high life with even higher salaries? Or would you still have stuck to the safe and the familiar, just like the vast majority of us would no doubt have done?

Follow the money

If you want to build up the bank balance to significant levels as quickly as possible, there’s no good going down a career path which pays only minimum wage and which has minimum prospects to look forward to. While not a prerequisite, a degree-level education certainly helps open up the opportunities. And getting to know NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, is a great way to clarify exactly what the potential earning power a degree course can offer you. Personal interests aside, you’ve got to follow the money.

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Top 10

Engineering majors hold eight of the top 10 spots on the list of top-paid majors for Class of 2014 bachelor’s degree graduates, according to NACE’s April 2014 Salary Survey. And right at the top of the list is petroleum engineering with an average starting salary of $95,300, some $28,000 more than the next highest average starting salary, which is for computer science. Third spot goes to aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering graduates who can expect an average starting salary of $67,000.

Going further down the list, computer engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering graduates can expect average starting salaries of $66,600, $66,000 and $63,100 respectively. The bottom three are electrical/electronics and communications engineering ($62,300), management information systems/business ($62,100), and civil engineering ($62,100).

There you have it, a range of fascinating career paths that’ll also bring in significant amounts of money almost from the word go. With a little bit of luck, not to mention hard work, you too could become one of tomorrow’s career-climbing business superstars. Now that’s a thought worth hanging on to, don’t you think?. Check out the NACE website here.