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Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary 2011

Posted By Jim On 05/24/2011 @ 7:12 am In Career | 25 Comments

Every year, as we flow through graduation season, I like to take a look at PayScale’s College Salary Report – which takes a look at a variety of statistics for different college majors. The chart just lists the top ten majors, with starting and mid-career median pay figures, though the larger table has a list of many degrees from Dietetics to Art to Criminal Justice to Agriculture. It covers a lot of different degrees, even though the top ten list seems to be filled with engineers.

As always, these lists are tricky because what might be the best when you enter school may not be the best when you graduate. Perfect example was when I started school in 1998 – computer science was sizzling hot as the dot com boomed like crazy. By 2001, it had famously burst. I was happy to graduate a semester early in December of 2001, only to be rewarded with one of the worst job markets, at the time, since the 80s. Congratulations… good luck finding a job pal (I chickened out and went to graduate school).

From 2006 [3]2008 [4], the top major was chemical engineering. That degree gave up the title to Aerospace Engineering the following year. This year, both were eclipsed by Petroleum Engineering. In fact, if you compare the following chart to last year [5] – you’ll notice that the petrol majors zoomed ahead (look at the X scale).

Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary [6]

Annual pay for Bachelors graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have 2 years of experience; mid-career have 15 years. See full methodology [7] for more.

As you’ll see, chemical and aerospace engineers had similar salaries to last year – petrol engineers zoomed ahead to touch near $160,000 by mid-career (15 years of experience). Computer science (computer engineering) is still in the top ten!

What’s the lesson from this chart? Engineers get paid.

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[3] 2006: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/best-college-degree-salaries-for-2006-graduates.html

[4] 2008: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/2008-best-paying-jobs-for-graduates.html

[5] last year: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/best-undergrad-college-degrees-by-salary-2010.html

[6] Best Undergrad College Degrees By Salary: http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp

[7] full methodology: http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/salary-report.asp

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