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2008 Best Paying Jobs for Graduates

Posted By Jim On 05/01/2008 @ 7:10 am In Personal Finance | 12 Comments

Every year, around this time of college graduation, various media outlets report the average salaries various college graduates and this year is no different. CNN and Careerbuilder [3] are reporting, based on National Association of Colleges and Employers data, that salaries are up 4% this year compared to last year and hiring is expected to increase 8%. Take that recession! (cynics will say that employers are hiring cheaper graduates and dumping the more expensive seasoned employees!)


Once again, technical degrees dominate the list of high increases with computer science majors (yay!) seeing a 7.9% increase and other engineering grads seeing a 5.7% boost. As an aside, my wife always told me that computer science “isn’t engineering,” to which I responded with – “you’re a manager, so you’re not an engineer either!” (then she tells me “at least I have a job,” which pretty much ends the conversation because I stuff a sock in her mouth – just kidding, I love you honey )

Also not surprising, given the high cost of oil, is that chemical engineers once again are number one (my wife was a chemical engineering graduate). For as long as I’ve been reading these types of articles, it seems like chemical engineers have been consistently in the top spot for highest starting salaries. One thing they don’t talk about is that the highest paying chemical engineering jobs involve long stints on rigs in the middle of the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. However, if I was a high school graduate thinking about potential degrees, I think you can’t go wrong by going engineering, of any kind, or computer science (even given the ~4 year lead time until you graduate college).

Here’s the full list with year over year increase:

  • Chemical Engineering – $63,749 (+6.2%)
  • Computer Science – $56,921 (+7.9%)
  • Electrical Engineering – $56,512 (+3.5%)
  • Mechanical Engineering – $56,429 (+3.4%)
  • Economics – $52,926
  • Nursing – $52,129
  • Chemistry – $52,125
  • Civil Engineering – $49,427 (+4.8%)
  • Finance – $48,795 (+1.9%)
  • Accounting – $47,413 (+1.9%)
  • Business Administration, Management – $43,823 (+<1.0%)
  • Marketing – $43,459 (+5.2%)
  • Political science/government – $43,594
  • Human resources – $40,250
  • History – $35,956
  • Communications – $35,196
  • English language and literature – $34,757
  • Journalism – $32,250
  • Psychology – $30,877
  • Public relations/organizational communications – $30,667

(photo by CarbonNYC [4])


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[3] CNN and Careerbuilder: http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/04/28/cb.salaries.grads/index.html

[4] CarbonNYC: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/143186839/sizes/s/

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