Best Paying Graduate Jobs: Lessons Learned

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For the last three years, I’ve watched for and written about the list Yahoo releases every year for the best jobs for graduates. The 2008 best paying job for graduates was in the field of Chemical Engineering. Last year, the 2007 best paying job for graduates was Chemical Engineering. The year before that, the 2006 best paying job for graduates was Chemical Engineering. I think it’s safe to say, Chemical Engineering is here to stay. 🙂

The problem with looking at these types of lists is that if you were equally capable of doing any of the jobs on the list and if money were your primary driver, by the time you graduated, the list could change. When I started college in 1998, I was lucky. All the hot job lists had computer science, computer engineering, information systems and information technology all over the top spots. I wanted to study computer science and so the appearance high on the list for salaries merely cemented the decision. However, when I graduated in December 2001 (for all you math majors, I was done a semester early partly because of AP credits), computer science wasn’t really a hot job in too many places because of the dot-com bust.

Despite that, one thing is clear by looking at these lists year after year. Engineering is hot. While the non-engineering jobs on the list, the doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. are stable, high-pay (eventually), and high-demand, the competition for top engineering talent will always keep salaries for new graduates in those fields very high.

Chemical engineering may not always be the top paying graduate job (though it’s prospects do look good), but chances are #1 will have ‘engineering’ in there somewhere.

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “Best Paying Graduate Jobs: Lessons Learned”

  1. Toby Ludwick says:

    My friends who graduated with a BS Chemical Engineering (from a top ranked college) found no jobs.

    It goes back to supply (# of graduates) and demand (# of openings).

  2. Hey Jim – your links for the 2006 list is broken – it points to the “edit” pages for that post! Just an FYI

  3. Josh says:

    I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and started out at 39k but in two years of working have gotten raised up to 56k. I had a friend who graduated with me who was making 100k+ after a year (albeit working 80hrs a week), so yes i agree engineering has it’s bonuses but you have to work alot harder during school.

    • Erfan says:

      Ive just graduated as a Mechanical Engineer with first class, the average salary seems to be around 27k if not less, who did u start with that gave you 39k with no experience

  4. Jason in Houston says:


    When did your friend graduate? There have been times in the past (mid-80s and mid-90s were particularly rough for ChemEs) but right now I would say it would make no sense that a ChemE couldn’t find a job unless they were only looking in certain geographical areas (not a lot of ChemE jobs in Miami for example).

    We can’t find enough ChemE’s for my company.

  5. Steve says:


    Can we talk? I am also in houston and my e-mail is at chemicalengineer at gmail dot com


    I believe our supply is not growing as fast as the demand. Did your most of your friends eventually get a job? I got out in during the downturn of 2002/2003 and the market was weak but demand was still there.

  6. grumpy says:

    Worst paying jobs for graduates:

    gas pump jockey

  7. Ari Breverd says:


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