As students near graduation from college, or are starting back to class, more often than not their thoughts turn financial. Whether they chose a major with an end career in mind or they use their college education as a springboard for new opportunities, all students must consider their return on investment. With the cost of higher education averaging anywhere from $9,000 – $35,000 per year, a lucrative life after graduation is becoming even more important. In a competitive economy, having a profitable degree from a highly sought after field of knowledge could be the key in gaining career success. What degrees bring in the big bucks? We’ve listed some below. All salary information comes from the 2008 NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) salary survey.
Not surprisingly, engineering majors in every category earn an average of $60,000 their first year after college. Chemical engineers are paid the most, working for a variety of companies in different fields including manufacturing, healthcare, and business. Chemical engineers design equipment and develop products. Electrical engineers rank second, with an average starting salary of around $55,000. Electrical engineers focus on the design and implementation of equipment used in all aspects of life- automobiles, aircraft, and electrical utilities. Both of these majors apply to a variety of different fields, contributing to the overall success of their earning potential. Mechanical engineers are a close third, with an average starting salary of $54,000. Mechanical engineers are also employed in a number of different industries ranging from agricultural to business.
As our society becomes more and more reliant on the internet and the advancements in computer related technologies and networks, working knowledge of the systems becomes a valuable tool. Computer science majors make an average of $53,000 their first year out of college. This number does include the entrepreneurs who take their computer science background and apply it to business models, advancing technologies and expanding the horizon of development.
Business markets are highly profitable, and graduates with a thorough knowledge of economics rank high in earnings potential. The average starting salary of a first year economics graduate is around $47,800. Most economics majors work in data research or consulting, and many work for the federal and state governments.
Management Information Systems
Students with an MIS degree work in all facets of business organization. They analyze businesses and contribute to a more efficient management structure. These graduates typically start in the mid $40,000 range their first year after graduation.
Finance and Accounting
Finance and accounting grads have many different options in a plethora of fields. The type of work is varied but always in demand. These positions have very valuable knowledge in intricate areas and generally start at $46,200 their first year out of school.
Business Administration and Management
This is also a lucrative field, as titans of industry are recognized by the efficacy in business management. This major is consistently one of the most popular, and for good reason- business grads can work almost anywhere! The average starting salary is $43,500 for these students, with a chance to accrue more wealth over the length of their employment term.
Keep in mind that a student’s ultimate return on investment is subjective. Yes, these types of degrees offer access to monetarily profitable careers, but it is also important to consider the subjective and completely independent determination of wealth- something that is measured differently by each person.
Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW, BS/HR, is a Certified Professional & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant and President of Professional Resume Services, Inc. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 9+ best-selling career books. She has achieved international recognition following yearly nominations of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award. Erin has written thousands of resumes for executives and professionals.
As a proud member of PARW, CDI, AORCP, Erin also sits on CDI’s Credentialing Committee for new certification candidates and serves as a Mentor for CDI’s Member Mentoring Committee. She also is a featured blogger on several well-known career sites.
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