While following the lifestyles of the rich and famous may be a national pastime, it might be a better use of your time to follow their educational tendencies.
A March 2014 report by the Spectrum Group, a research and consulting firm, reveals that 9.63 million households have a net worth of at least $1 million.
In addition, 1.24 million households have a net worth of at least $5 million, and 132,000 households have an estimated net worth of at least $25 million.
While you may think that millionaire status is unattainable for all but a few, consider this: according to Thomas Stanley and William Danko in their book, The Millionaire Next Door, 80 percent of millionaires earned their money, while only 20 percent inherited their wealth.
And Michael Ellsberg, author of The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful, states that 80 percent of millionaires are college graduates.
So what are these individuals studying in college? According to a 2013 report by Spears Magazine and Wealth Insight, the majority of millionaires pursued degrees in just a handful of subjects.
At first glance, it appears that some of these millionaires obtained degrees in fields that were unrelated to their wealth, while others majored in fields that were directly related to their ability to become millionaires. However, even though some of these movers and shakers did not put their degrees to use upon graduation, their choice of majors may have provided valuable skills and knowledge, which indirectly contributed to their success.
Keep reading to discover the top five most popular majors among millionaires, an illustration of a millionaire with each degree, and the salary that the average person can expect to earn by choosing the same educational path.
BBA (Bachelor’s In Business Administration)
A Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration is the fifth most popular degree among millionaires. The appeal of this major is obvious. Many millionaires tend to have an entrepreneurial or they have a propensity to lead organizations. As such, they need a solid background in leadership, management, and strategic planning, and should possess strong decision-making, time-management, and communication skills.
Actor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who received a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, used the skills he learned to parlay a bodybuilding title into a successful acting career and then 2 terms as the Governor of California.
Graduates with a BBA can pursue several career paths. For example, emergency management directors earn a median annual wage of $59,770, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Medical and health services managers make $88,580. Industrial production managers earn $89,190.
A Juris Doctor (J.D.), also known as a law degree, is the 4th most popular degree among millionaires. The ability to successfully present oral and written arguments is a skill that pays very well if these students also have good research, analytical and problem-solving abilities.
Barack Obama received a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago’s Law School. Obama also served 3 terms in the Illinois Senate and 1 term in the U.S. Senate before he became the 44th President of the United States.
Lawyers earn a median annual wage of $113,530 reports the U.S. Department of Labor. Judges and Hearing Officers make $102,980. Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers earn $87,240.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Economics is the third-most popular degree among millionaires. Students pursuing this degree learn the dynamics of economic theories and systems, statistics, and finance. They should also be detail-oriented, and have good critical-thinking, communication, and math skills.
Billionaire Warren Buffett earned a Master’s Degree in Economics from Columbia University. As the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, he has been named one of the top money managers of the last century, and is usually ranked as one of the top 3 richest men in the world.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, economists earn a median annual wage of $91,860. Other career choices with this degree include financial examiners, who make $75,800, and personal financial advisors, who earn $67,520. In addition, purchasing managers earn $60,550, and budget analysts earn $69,280.
A Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA), is the second-most popular degree among millionaires. Advanced theories of marketing, accounting, strategic planning, and human resource capital are core subjects in this graduate degree. These students also need strong decision-making, time-management, and communication skills.
Phil Knight earned an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, worked as a CPA at Price Waterhouse and also taught business courses at Portland State University. He is the cofounder and chairman of Blue Ribbon Sports, which was renamed Nike, one of the world’s most successful companies, which also has one of the most recognizable trademarks.
Many graduates with an MBA become top executives, such as chief executive officers, general managers, mayors, governors, city managers, and university presidents. The Department of Labor reports the median annual income of top executives as $101,650.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering is the most popular college degree among millionaires. The field of engineering includes many subspecialties, including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and petroleum engineering. Regardless of the specialty, engineers need analytical, creative and problem-solving skills.
Lee Iacocca, who received a degree in industrial engineering from Princeton University, started his career at the Ford Motor Company where he contributed to the design of such cars as the Ford Mustang before becoming president of the company. After involuntarily leaving Ford, Iacocca became the chairman and CEO of the Chrysler Corporation.
Most engineering specialties pay well, according to salary data from the U.S. Department of Labor. For example, industrial engineers earn a median annual wage of $78,860, civil engineers make $79,340, mechanical engineers earn $80,580, and biomedical engineers make $86,960. In addition, aerospace engineers make $103,720, nuclear engineers earn $104,270, and petroleum engineers make $130,280.
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