The 11 most meaningful college majors and how much they pay

Americans spend roughly one third of their lives at work, so it makes sense why workers would a career that feels meaningful. 

As part of its annual College Salary Report, PayScale analyzed data from graduates of more than 2,500 schools in order to spotlight how much graduates typically make early and mid-way through their careers. The site also identified the highest-paying college majors, and polled workers about whether or not they felt their work makes the world a better place.

PayScale found that there are several fields where workers are paid well and feel their work is worthwhile.

Here are the 11 most meaningful majors and how much they pay:

8. American sign language interpreting (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $73,800
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 85%

8. Medical laboratory science (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $69,400
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 85%

8. Nursing science (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $80,500
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 85%

8. Physician assistant studies (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $109,600
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 85%

7. Medicine

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $97,000
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 86%

5. Occupational therapy (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $88,500
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 89%

5. Physical therapy (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $93,200
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 89%

3. Music therapy (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $55,700
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 90%

3. Radiation therapy (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $88,800
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 90%

1. Cytotechnology (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $73,000
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 91%

1. Early childhood special education (tie)

Median salary for alumni with 10+ years of experience: $50,600
Percent who say their work makes the world a better place: 91%

By PayScale's measurements the most meaningful college majors are cytotechnology and early childhood special education. Ninety-one percent of workers with degrees in these fields said they believe their work makes the world a better place. The average mid-career salaries for people with cytotechnology and early childhood special education degrees are about $73,000 and $50,600, respectively.

The highest-paying major on the list is physician assistant studies. Workers with this degree make about $109,600 mid-way through their careers and 85% say their work is meaningful. Other healthcare majors, such as radiation therapy and medical laboratory science, also offered graduates the opportunity to do work they felt was meaningful and to earn a healthy paycheck.

Sudarshan Sampath, director of research at PayScale, stresses that no matter what field students choose to pursue, being inspired by your work is a key part of career success.

"If you don't have a passion for something, if you don't have interest, it doesn't matter what major or career you choose, you're not going to be particularly successful," he tells CNBC Make It.

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