10 Degrees That Make Sense to Earn in Texas

Which degrees offer the strongest return on investment in Texas? Learn about the fastest-growing Texas careers before earning a degree in Texas.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published on March 7, 2022 · Updated on May 16, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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10 Degrees That Make Sense to Earn in Texas


What are the best majors in Texas? And which degrees lead to the best career opportunities?

The best jobs in Texas combine competitive salaries with strong demand. By learning about in-demand Texas careers, you can make an educated decision about earning a degree.

If you're considering college degrees in Texas, including online degrees, start by researching the top majors in Texas and learn more about Texas colleges.

But before you declare a major, check out our guide to the biggest Texas industries and the highest-paying Texas jobs. This resource can help you choose a major and career path in Texas, and for more information about going to college in the Lone Star State, check out our Resources for Students in Texas page.

What Are the Biggest Industries in Texas?

The major industries in Texas include diverse sectors like technology, healthcare, business services, agriculture, and energy. The fastest-growing Texas careers include opportunities in these major industries.

Home to nearly 50 Fortune 500 headquarters, Texas can be a great place to launch or advance your career. And learning about top industries can help students make an informed choice about their college major.

Agriculture

Texas boasts more farms than any other state. And agriculture remains one of the most important industries in Texas. In 2017, agriculture added nearly $25 billion to the state's economy.

The largest agriculture sectors in Texas include cattle, poultry, and cotton. College degrees in agricultural management or agricultural business can prepare graduates for Texas careers in agriculture.

Oil and Petroleum

It's no shock that Texas leads the country in oil and petroleum. As the top petroleum-refining state and the top exporter of oil and petroleum, Texans can find many opportunities in this industry. Refineries report high demand, particularly in Houston. Petroleum engineers can also find many opportunities in Texas.

Business Services

Texas ranks corporate services among its target industries. According to the state, more than 1.5 million workers specialize in corporate services. Business services include a broad number of business careers, including fields like marketing, logistics, consultation, facilities services, and human resources.

With a growing number of Fortune 500 headquarters, the business services sector will likely continue to thrive in Texas.

Healthcare

The healthcare industry continues to boom in Texas. The University of Texas at Arlington reports that a third of Texas' largest employers are hospitals or research facilities. And in San Antonio, 1 in 6 employees works in the healthcare industry.

While some healthcare careers require a graduate degree, many allied health fields employ professionals with associate degrees.

Construction

Construction and infrastructure are both major Texas industries. In spite of the pandemic, in 2020, construction brought in over $100 billion in revenue or more than 5% of the state's total gross domestic product.

Construction also accounts for a large share of Texas jobs. As of May 2020, Texas employs more construction managers than any other state.

Energy

Texas is the top energy producer in the country. In addition to Texas' large oil and natural gas industries, the state also shows strong growth in renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. In fact, Texas ranks No. 1 in oil, electricity, and wind generation capacity.

Technology and Information

Texas has a long track record in information and technology innovation. Major tech companies like Google, Cisco, Oracle, Dell, Apple, and Microsoft have a strong presence in the state.

Texas also ranks in the top two for tech-related patents, in part because of the state's top-ranked universities. Texans considering technology careers generally need a college degree.

10 Sensible Degrees to Earn in Texas

Finance

Finance ranks as one of the best majors in Texas. That's because finance careers can provide a strong return on investment in the state. Texas ranks No. 2 in the nation for finance and insurance firms, including several Fortune 500 companies. And finance professionals report strong salaries in Texas.

A bachelor's degree in finance may lead to higher-paying careers as a financial analyst or financial manager. Texas financial and investment analysts report an average salary of $87,870, as of May 2020.

With experience or a master's degree, financial analysts can move into management roles like financial managers.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data projects 118,200 new financial manager jobs nationally from 2020-2030. Texas employs 46,340 financial managers, who make yearly salaries of $148,860 on average, as of May 2020. In particular, Dallas and Houston rank in the top 10 nationally for the number of financial managers.

Healthcare Administration

Healthcare administrators oversee the nonclinical side of hospitals, doctor's offices, and other healthcare facilities. And a career in healthcare administration can offer higher earning potential and strong demand.

According to BLS data, the country will add a projected 139,600 healthcare management jobs from 2020-2030. That 32% projected job growth makes healthcare administration one of the fastest-growing fields.

Texas ranks second in the country in healthcare management professionals. The 34,380 healthcare administrators in Texas make an average annual salary of $110,870, as of May 2020.

Prospective healthcare administrators can break into the field with an associate in healthcare administration or a bachelor's in healthcare administration. A master's degree helps healthcare administrators advance their careers and increase their earning potential.

Business Management

Business is one of the top majors in Texas –– and it's also one of the best majors in Texas. A business management degree can lead to management careers. In the growing management sector, managers, as of May 2020, earn a median annual salary of $109,760.

How can you break into business management careers?

Most start by earning a bachelor's in business management. With a bachelor's degree, early career professionals may work as management analysts and budget analysts. More than 42,000 management analysts work in Texas, where they earn an average annual salary of $95,730, as of May 2020.

With business experience or a master's in management, professionals often move into supervisory roles. Working students can also earn their MBA online. Texas' Rice University ranks as one of the top online MBA programs in the country.

Construction Management

Construction managers, also known as general contractors, oversee construction projects. And Texas employs more construction managers than any other state.

More than 40,000 construction managers work in Texas, where they earn an average annual salary of $94,680, as of May 2020.

According to the BLS, construction managers are projected to see 51,400 new jobs nationally from 2020-2030 — an 11% change. This is faster than the average 8% projected job growth for all U.S. occupations.

Construction management careers generally require a bachelor's degree and a background in construction. Prospective construction managers can earn an online bachelor's in construction management to break into the field.

Some employers, particularly those working on larger and more complex projects, may prefer candidates with a master's in construction management. A master's degree can also help construction managers increase their earning potential.

Nursing

Nurses play a critical role in the healthcare system. And nurses benefit from high demand across the country.

Texans can launch a nursing career in a matter of weeks with a certified nursing assistant program. And current nurses can become registered nurses (RNs) with an associate degree. The nearly 220,000 registered nurses working in Texas report an average annual salary of $76,800, as of May 2020.

RNs can increase their earning potential with a bachelor's in nursing or a master's in nursing. A master's degree trains nurses for advanced practice roles like nurse practitioner. These nursing careers offer a significant increase in earning potential.

Texas nurse practitioners make annual salaries of $116,700 on average, as of May 2020. Several Texas colleges and universities offer online nurse practitioner programs, including Stephen F. Austin State University and Angelo State University.

Human Resources

Careers in human resources (HR) offer strong earning potential and many growth opportunities.

With a bachelor's degree, professionals can work as human resources specialists. More than 50,000 human resources specialists work in Texas, with an average annual salary of $69,230, as of May 2020.

With experience or a master's degree, HR professionals may move into higher-paying roles like human resources manager, with a U.S. median salary of $121,220 per year.

Prospective human resources professionals can launch their career with an associate in human resources. A bachelor's in human resources meets the entry-level education requirement for most human resources careers. And a human resources master's degree can help professionals advance to management-level roles.

Several Texas colleges rank among the best schools for online human resources degrees, including LeTourneau University and South Texas College.

Dentistry

Dentists specialize in treating teeth and gums. According to BLS data, dentists across the country made a median annual salary of $164,010, as of May 2020. In Texas, dentists reported an average annual salary of $184,410.

The BLS projects the field will gain an additional 11,100 jobs nationally from 2020-2030. Currently, 8,480 dentists practice in Texas.

How do you become a dentist?

Breaking into dental careers requires several years of study. Dentists must hold a doctorate and apply for a license from the state.

The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners licenses dentists and related careers like dental hygienists. Dentists likely will also need to complete additional training for specialties like orthodontia or oral surgery.

Software Engineering

Texas continues to expand its tech presence –– the state lists information technology among its target industries. And a college degree in software engineering can help graduates pursue higher-paying opportunities.

A bachelor's in software engineering can prepare graduates for roles like software developer or software engineer. Nationally, software developers made a median annual salary of $110,140, as of May 2020.

Texas software developers made an average annual wage of $109,570. Currently, the state employs over 113,000 software developers. And the job outlook in software development remains strong. In the U.S., BLS data projects a 22% increase in jobs in this field from 2020-2030.

A master's in software engineering can help professionals increase their earning potential. Working software engineers may benefit from online master's in software engineering programs. And the University of Houston-Clear Lake ranks among the top online software engineering graduate programs in the country.

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants diagnose patients, create treatment plans, and prescribe medication. And physician assistants earn six-figure salaries in Texas. The state's nearly 9,000 physician assistants took home an average pay of $112,200 per year.

How can you become a physician assistant?

Unlike doctors, physician assistants do not attend medical school. Instead, they need a master's degree that typically takes two years. Prospective physician assistants can earn an online physician assistant master's degree. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley ranks among the best online programs for physician assistants.

Physician assistants benefit from high demand. According to the BLS, this field will add a projected 40,000 new jobs nationally from 2020-2030. This projected 31% growth rate makes physician assistants one of the fastest-growing fields.

Electrical Engineering

An electrical engineering major can prepare Texas graduates for higher-earning careers. According to BLS data, electrical and electronics engineers earn a median annual salary of $103,390 nationally, as of May 2020.

In Texas, electrical engineers earn an average annual wage of $107,270. And more than 14,000 electrical engineers work in Texas, making the state one of the biggest employers of electrical engineers.

What degree will you need for a career in electrical engineering?

A bachelor's degree in engineering meets entry-level requirements. Most electrical engineers major in electrical or electronics engineering. Prospective electrical engineers can find online electrical engineering programs in Texas and other states.

A master's degree can help electrical engineers increase their earning potential. Online master's in electrical engineering programs offer flexibility for working professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions About Degrees in Texas

What is the best major to study in Texas? true

The top majors in Texas include fields like business, healthcare, engineering, and technology. These majors may lead to in-demand, higher-paying careers in Texas.

With dozens of Fortune 500 companies and a strong presence in construction, oil and petroleum, and agriculture, college degrees can open the door to many opportunities in Texas.

The highest-paying Texas jobs include careers in finance, nursing, and management. All of these fields require a college degree for top-paying roles.

However, many different majors can prepare Texans for in-demand careers. The critical thinking and analytical skills gained during a social science degree program, for example, can lead to opportunities in diverse industries.

What degrees pay the most in Texas? true

Before earning a degree, Texans should consider their earning potential with that degree. The highest-paying jobs in Texas require a college degree, while some opportunities require a graduate degree. Keep in mind that Texans can find well-paying jobs with an associate or bachelor's degree.

For example, registered nurses and other allied health careers typically require an associate degree, while construction managers, petroleum engineers, and software developers generally need a bachelor's degree.

A graduate degree in business, like an MBA, or healthcare can unlock higher-paying opportunities in Texas. Physician assistants, dentists, and nurse practitioners all report six-figure average salaries in the state.

What industries are booming in Texas? true

Texas boasts many booming industries, including oil and natural gas, construction, corporate services, technology, and agriculture.

The state's government identifies target industries such as information technology, aerospace, biotech, and creative fields. Many of these Texas industries hire professionals with college degrees.

Careers in healthcare, business, and tech generally require a degree. Fortunately, Texans benefit from world-class institutions of higher education like the University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, and Texas A&M.

The state also boasts many affordable public colleges and universities and a high number of online degree-granting programs.

What jobs are in high demand right now in Texas?

Careers in healthcare, management, education, and construction are all in high demand in Texas. The Texas Workforce Commission reports high projected demand for financial managers, general and operations managers, and management analysts.

Other in-demand Texas jobs include construction manager, accountant, market research analyst, and registered nurse. All of these careers report an annual salary of over $75,000 per year. Texans interested in these careers need a college degree.

Construction managers, nurses, analysts, and other managers must hold a degree to qualify for job openings in Texas. The Texas Workforce Commission data includes estimated annual Texas job openings and annual salaries.

What college should I go to in Texas?

Students considering Texas colleges and universities benefit from a wealth of choices.

Texas ranks among the top in the nation in the number of higher education institutions, including 148 four-year schools and 96 two-year schools, as of 2019-2020.

Many Texas colleges and universities top lists of the best higher education institutions in the country, including the University of Texas at Austin, the state's flagship public university.

Other high-ranking institutions include Texas A&M, Rice University, the University of Houston, and Texas Tech.

When choosing a Texas college or university, consider the location, cost, and major options. Many students also weigh the size of the college, their financial aid opportunities, and the career services support.

Feature Image: jeffbergen / E+ / Getty Images

If you're confused about how to choose a college major and feel like picking a major is causing a lot of stress, this guide can help. There are more remote learning options to choose from than ever. Discover how to choose the best online college for you. Choosing a college major is a decision many students agonize over. Here, recent grads offer new students advice they wish they'd heard earlier.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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