The Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University says a way safer bet, wage-wise, for example, is Electrical Engineering. For its survey of 2015 college graduates who earned a four-year degree, Electrical Engineering topped the list of earnings among those surveyed, with an average annual salary of $ 57,030 versus that advertising gig which came in dead last!
Engineering, at least for someone with an undergraduate degree, appears to be the hot ticket these days. According to the MSU study, which drew its data from polling college recruiting offices, three of the five top wage earning slots went to people with engineering degrees. The other two went to people in the tech industry: software design and computer programming.
These survey results, along with other data, play into the hands of proponents of STEM education, short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. America is in short supply of people with these sheepskins, but efforts are underway to correct the problem.
President Obama led the science-tied charge last Spring with TechHire, a federal government effort to encourage people to get into the tech field, especially areas tied to computers. Heck, the President didn’t even say they had to have a college degree – no sheepskin, no problem!
“They're a ticket into the middle class," the President said of tech-related jobs where average salaries are considerably higher than they are for the average private sector job.
A diploma is, however, a definite plus. The STEM Education Council, an advocacy group with members such as, the American Chemical Society and Microsoft Corporation, notes that graduates with a STEM-related degree make 10% more than those grads in other fields.
Furthermore, the unemployment rate for STEM-related graduates is considerably lower than the rate for people with other degrees. The advocacy group estimates that by 2020, one million new vacancies will be open in the STEM fields. And when it comes to applying for work, the STEM field may be a bit less crowded, as roughly 3.6 grads will be applying for every non-STEM position compared to just 1.9 applicants for every STEM job.
Certainly, many good opportunities outside of the STEM fields exist now and will continue to be available. Yes, the need for folks with talent to work in or manage banks or restaurants, sell cars and trucks, or even something as non-scientific as handling advertising for all of those enterprises will still be out there for Junior to consider, but the earning potential will also continue to trail.
Therefore, we should encourage young people with the slightest leaning toward any STEM discipline to give those areas of study a close examination … their future looks pretty bright. And they will go a long way toward keeping our nation more competitive on a global scale. The STEM Coalition says that when they were tested for their skills in science, Americans scored 21st globally out of the 34 countries measured.
Surely, we can do better than that.
Average starting wage for 4-year college graduates with select degrees*
- Electrical engineering; $57,030
- Computer engineering: $56,576
- Mechanical engineering: $56,055
- Software design: $54,183
- Computer programming: $54,065
- Chemical engineering: $53,622
- Finance: $44,699
- Accounting: $44,525
- Nursing: $43,481
- Marketing: $41,481
- Humanities and Liberal Arts: $39,162
- All majors: $39,045
- Agricultural sciences: $38,584
- Social work: $36,639
- Advertising: $36,638
*Source: Collegiate Employment Research Institute Michigan State University