Best Engineering Majors for Achieving the Highest Starting Salary

Mar 06, 2020

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 are petroleum, computer, and chemical engineering.

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Best Paying Engineering Majors

Some of the best paying engineering majors include bachelor's degrees in petroleum, chemical, and computer engineering and master's in geophysical engineering. Geographical locations, as well as industry, also affect salary.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that petroleum engineering majors offered the highest starting salaries among the 2017 class of bachelor's degree in engineering college students. The average starting salary for 2017 graduates of chemical engineering bachelor's degree programs was $68,445 according to NACE, while computer engineers earned an average starting salary of $68,191. Biomedical engineering graduates reportedly averaged $67,250 per year, while software engineers who earned master's degrees in their field made an average of $80,238 in 2017.

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 $156,370 in May 2018, but the highest paying metropolitan area in that year was Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, at $190,540 per year on average. For computer engineers, the top-paying states in 2018 were Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Alaska, and Colorado, per the BLS.

Industry can also determine top salaries. Chemical engineers earned a mean annual wage of $114,470 in May 2018. However, those working in the oil and gas extraction industries earned a mean annual salary of $150,550 during the same year.

Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers 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.

Students wishing to major in a field of engineering may want to consider petroleum, chemical, computer, or geophysical engineering if they wish to enter a high paying field upon graduation.

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