Engineering majors claim top salaries

Kristyn Soltis

A recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found the engineering discipline claimed four out of the top five positions for highest starting salaries of recent graduates.

NACE, which tracks college graduates’ job offers, found petroleum engineering earned the title of highest-paying degree with $83,121 for the average starting offer. Petroleum engineers typically locate gas and oil reservoirs and develop ways to bring the resource to the Earth’s surface.

Chemical engineering, mining engineering and computer engineering also claimed top four spots. The computer science discipline placed fifth.

In 2008, Kent State University awarded 3,790 bachelor’s degrees according to a Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness report. Thirty-one bachelor’s degrees were awarded for computer science and zero were engineering degrees.

15 Top-Earning Degrees

1. Petroleum engineering- $83,121

2. Chemical engineering- $64,902

3. Mining engineering- $64,404

4. Computer engineering- $61,738

5. Computer science- $61,407

6. Electrical engineering- $60,125

7. Mechanical engineering- $58,766

8. Industrial engineering- $58,358

9. Systems engineering- $57,438

10. Engineering technology- $56,447

11. Actuarial science- $56,320

12. Aeronautical engineering- $56,311

13. Agricultural engineering- $54,352

14. Biomedical engineering- $54,158

15. Construction management- $53,199

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers

While Kent State does not offer any engineering programs, Kent’s College of Technology offers a program called Aeronautical Systems Engineering Technology.

“Our graduates have been hired by Boeing and Lockheed Martin and carry the title of engineer,” said Maureen McFarland, academic program director of aeronautics.

Aeronautical engineering, earning $56,311 on average, claimed the 12th spot for highest starting salaries.

Although the engineering discipline provides the most lucrative starting salary, the number of engineering graduates is decreasing about two percent each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I believe that the shortage of graduates who are majoring in engineering is the reason that their average salary offers are higher than other majors,” said Andrea Koncz, employment information manager for NACE. “Also, the technical skills that they posses helps to increase their ‘price tags.'”

Koncz also said a student’s decision when choosing a major doesn’t always depend on the earning potential after graduation.

“Typically, we learn from our NACE Student Survey that students choose their major based upon what they like to do most,” Koncz said. “Even though engineering degrees are more lucrative, it seems that most students don’t allow that to override their decision as to how they choose their majors.”

Daniel White, senior computer science major, will receive his degree in December; yet, he doesn’t expect to earn the average offer in his field, $61,407, right away.

“I know it will be a challenge finding computer science jobs that require no experience,” White said. “I will really have to fight for a job to show that I am qualified.”

Surrounding universities, such as the University of Akron and Youngstown State University, do provide engineering programs, however, the number of engineering graduates is still slim compared to other college degrees.

Benjamin Mabbott, senior mechanical engineering major from Youngstown State University, said his engineering classes have decreased in size since his freshman year.

“With engineering, it’s definitely fairly small,” Mabbott said. “Once you get past your freshman course, it’s usually no more than probably 15 or 16 people (per class) at best.”

Mabbott not only chose engineering because of an offer for a full scholarship to Youngstown State, but because he tends to excel with mathematics and physics.

“I don’t know if it gives me an edge over other degrees, but it’s applicable over a broad range,” Mabbott said. “You can do a lot with an engineering degree.”

Contact principal reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].