Best Engineering Majors for Achieving the Highest Starting Salary

As of 2015, students who completed bachelor's programs in a variety of engineering disciplines were among the highest paid entry-level college graduates in the country. Some popular sub-fields petroleum, computer and chemical engineers.

Best Paying Engineering Majors

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that petroleum engineering majors offered the highest starting salaries among the 2015 class of bachelor's degree in engineering college graduates. The average starting salary for 2015 graduates of petroleum engineering bachelor's degree programs was $72,063 according to NACE, while chemical engineers earned an average starting salary of $69,778. Geophysical engineers, who earned master's degrees in their field, made an average of $102,984, while computer engineering graduates reportedly averaged $83,347 per year.

Other Factors Affecting Salary

Engineering salaries can also be determined by geographical location. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage among all petroleum engineers was $147,520 in May 2014, but the highest paying metropolitan area in that year was Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX, at $168,280 per year on average. For computer engineers, the top-paying states in 2014 were California, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, per the BLS.

Industry can also determine top salaries. Chemical engineers earned a mean annual wage of $103,590 in May 2014. However, those working in the oil and gas extraction industries earned a mean annual salary of $146,820 during the same year.

Petroleum Engineer

Engineers in the petroleum industry design new technology for recovering oil and natural gas. They may also develop new techniques for removing these resources more efficiently. A petroleum engineering major usually consists of core chemistry, geology and physics courses. Students then explore drilling techniques or factors determining a reservoir's output. Some programs may cover advanced topics such as fluid mechanics, fluid dynamics and petrophysics.

Computer Engineer

Not only do computer engineers create new computer hardware, but they analyze and test new equipment and update older equipment. The most common education required for computer engineers is a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, computer science or electrical engineering. Bachelor's degree programs in computer engineering are often combined with computer science and may include courses such as programming, discrete mathematics, software engineering and logic design.

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers research and develop processes for the manufacture of petroleum products, plastics and other goods. Students pursuing this major typically enroll in chemistry, math and physics courses. They also master energy transport principles and computer modeling through internships or senior projects.

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