Most lucrative college degrees

Amanda Garrett

Survey finds engineering majors make the most after college

Moolah. Dough. Dinero.

Whatever they call it, most college students don’t have much money.

However, depending on their choice of major, after graduation some students may be rolling in the green stuff, while others may have to stay on the Ramen noodle diet for a while.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, those students majoring in engineering and computer disciplines will receive the largest salaries, while those majoring in liberal arts and elementary school teaching will be among the lowest paid college grads.

Other highly paid degrees include accounting and business degrees, according to the NACE’s annual Winter 2004 Salary Survey. These jobs are more lucrative because there is more demand for them, said Andrea Koncz, employment information manager.

“When we survey our employers, they tell us they are looking for engineering, accounting and business majors,” she said. “The more technical disciplines seem to be where the demand is.”

Liberal arts graduates, defined by the survey as English, history, political science and sociology majors, earn less because there is less demand for them from employers, Koncz said.

“I don’t think that employers don’t value the skills of liberal arts grads,” she said.

“But they don’t target them for hiring like they do those majoring in engineering, business or accounting.”

Overall, the job market is looking strong, according to the salary survey. The winter survey showed employers saying they expect college graduate hires to be up 12.7 percent from last year. Also, more disciplines are seeing increases in their average starting salaries than at the same time last year, said Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

“Although, in general, salary increases were modest, 85 percent of disciplines that reported a percentage change in average starting salary posted an increase,” she said. “That’s a positive movement over last year at this time, when a little more than two-thirds of the disciplines that we track saw their salaries rise.”

Whatever their employment futures, students are choosing jobs they love, Koncz said.

“For the most part, the students tell us they choose their major based on what they really like to do,” she said. “They don’t look at money as their first concern. Whatever they choose to do is whatever gives them the greatest satisfaction.”

Contact news correspondent Amanda Garrett at [email protected].