What do computer scientists, information systems managers, and chemical engineers have in common?
They are three of the top ten college majors with the highest starting salaries for graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Engineering majors dominated this year’s list of top-paid bachelor’s degrees, holding eight of the ten spots. Petroleum engineers, who research and develop technology and methods to extract oil and gas from the earth, earn the highest starting salary – more than $86,000, which is one-and-a-half times the average starting salary reported for bachelor’s degree graduates in general. Here’s the list:
- Petroleum Engineering – $86,220
- Chemical Engineering – $65,142
- Mining & Mineral Engineering – $64,552
- Computer Science – $61,205
- Computer Engineering – $60,879
- Electrical & Communications Engineering – $59,074
- Mechanical Engineering – $58,392
- Industrial Engineering – $57,734
- Aeronautical Engineering – $57,231
- Information Sciences – $54,038
What does it take to get one of these high-paying jobs?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most entry-level engineering jobs require a bachelor’s degree, but some research positions may require a graduate degree. Continuing education is critical for engineers that want to keep up with improvements in technology. The bad news is that, if you aspire to see $86,000 in your first year salary, you’ll likely guarantee yourself some level of debt from your college tuition. The good news is that grads with degrees in these technical fields will benefit from their relatively low supply and should be able to manage the monthly student loan repayments.
What are some alternatives?
If you’d like to get your foot in an engineering position but can’t commit to a full-time four-year bachelor’s degree program, many technical colleges offer 2-year or 4-year degree engineering technology programs. These programs, which usually include hands-on labs that focus on the application of engineering principles, prepare students for practical design and production work, not necessarily theoretical and scientific knowledge. For engineering graduates of 4-year technology programs, job options are similar to those obtained by graduates with a bachelor’s degree, though you will not be qualified to register as a professional engineer under the same terms as graduates with degrees in engineering.
Salary ranges for engineering technicians range from $30,000 to $80,000, so while you may not make $86,000 in your first year, you could still realize a healthy salary range throughout your career. For more information about engineering salaries and the education you need to get your foot in the door, visit Science, Math & Engineering.