We’re told at a young age to pursue what we love and that everything will fall into place when we pursue our passions. Millions of people follow this advice when entering college and find themselves studying music, history, philosophy, psychology, sports management, or similar programs. While these all teach valuable life skills that lead to a more fulfilling life, the job market’s demand for these skills is notoriously limited. If you’re looking for a degree that will pay for itself, try one of these five excellent programs.

1. Graphic Design

graphic design

Image via Flickr by University of Salford Press Office

If you’ve got a flair for creativity and like to create something new every day, a degree in graphic design may be right for you. Graphic designers develop every part of a business’ visuals to capture the audience’s attention. Graphic designers might choose color palettes and shapes for user interfaces, develop eye-catching banner photos and flyers, retouch photos, and oversee practically all visual materials that represent the company they work for. Most businesses will need a solid graphic designer at some point, whether it’s just a one-time project or for ongoing long-term needs. Demand will always be high for these clever and talented individuals, and with a median salary of $44,150, the pay isn’t too bad either.

2. Criminal Justice

crime

Image via Flickr by West Midlands Police

A criminal justice degree is ideal for people who would like to be a part of the thin blue line that protects honest, law-abiding citizens from those that might want to do them harm. There are many types of occupations that fall under the criminal justice career paths umbrella, including crime scene analysts, game wardens, detectives, attorneys, substance abuse counselors, and many more. Many of these jobs have great salaries and require a human touch, meaning they won’t be replaced by machines or computers anytime soon (or ever, really).

3. Medicine

nurses

Image via Flickr by Seattle Municipal Archives

A degree in medicine or anything else that falls under the health care industry is a popular choice for people who are blessed with both a sharp mind and compassion for others. However, getting a start in this field requires many years of education and on-the-job training — which makes sense, since you’re literally making the difference between life and death on a fairly regular basis.

Bearing this in mind, you should still not be intimidated by the amount of education required for a career in medicine. It is arguably easier than ever to earn a degree in the field, such as an RN-to-BSN, with online schools. They not only allow you to balance classes with your current life, but your credits are also easily transferable, so there is no need to feel trapped in a particular program. It only takes moments to go online and see if a particular institution is right from you, and it’s the first step to landing an immensely rewarding and high-paying career in the field.

Physicians and surgeons have a very healthy job outlook and were raking in around $187,200 a year in 2012. Degrees in medicine usually come with a high price tag, but many are willing to take that burden knowing the high reward that awaits them after all those years of school.

4. Accounting

calculator

Image via Flickr by kenteegardin

If you enjoy working with numbers and problem-solving, you’ll feel right at home with an accounting degree. With job openings in virtually every city in the nation, accountants are responsible for tracking and maintaining complex budgets for businesses and government agencies. You’ll gain valuable insight into the dynamics of taxes and economics, all while bringing home a pretty hefty paycheck — in 2012, accounts had a median wage of $63,550, and have the potential to make upwards of six figures as they advance through their careers.

5. Law

law

Image via Flickr by ~ Paige ~

A degree in law opens the door to one of the most lucrative careers out there. In a nutshell, lawyers are responsible for interpreting law and making sure their clients don’t break it. Unlike TV courtroom dramas, lawyers actually spend a majority of their profession reviewing and writing legal texts and navigating a tricky bureaucracy. But with all that hard work comes some great pay — the median salary of a lawyer in 2012 was $113,530. However, it’s very difficult to enter this field without a graduate level degree, so you may want to get your undergrad in something like criminal justice first.

A college education is a big investment, so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.