Engineering Dominates Top-Paying Majors

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Engineering Dominates Top-Paying Majors (Photo: Enrico Strocchi)

Petroleum engineering grads have the highest starting salary. (Photo: Enrico Strocchi)

Geeks rule when it comes to starting salaries for new college graduates.

Engineering majors claimed seven spots on the list of top 10 highest paying majors for 2012-13 bachelor’s degree graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers April 2013 Salary Survey.

You can make all the nerd jokes you want, but these are the majors with futures – and salaries – so bright they have to wear shades.

If your engineering education includes experience with fracking and gushers, you’ve hit pay dirt.

By far, petroleum engineering majors received the top starting salaries with an average of a whopping $93,500. Petroleum engineering starting salaries beat the second highest paying major by more than $20,000 per year, according to the NACE survey.

Go figure. Newly minted computer engineering geeks have to settle for second place in the starting salary race.

Computer engineering, the second highest-paid major in the survey, had an average starting salary of $71,700.

Other Engineering Fields Top Starting Salary List

Other engineering majors among the NACE highest starting salary list are:

  • chemical – $67,600
  • aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical – $64,400
  • mechanical – $64,000
  • electrical/electronics and communications -$63,400
  • engineering technology – $62,200

The top-paying non-engineering majors are computer science, with an average starting salary of $64,800.

A related technology engineering field – management information systems/business – was next with a an average starting salary of $63,100).

Traditional suit-and-tie majors with big bucks starting salaries are still represented in the top 10.

Finance majors, with an average starting salary of $57,400, placed 10th on the list. Finance was the only non-engineering major to make the top 10.

An executive summary of the April 2013 Salary Survey report is available at

NACE’s next report on starting salaries for Class of 2013 college graduates will be in the September 2013 issue of Salary Survey.


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