Three times per year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers analyzes the degree and job market. They publish their findings of the survey in January, April, and September. The January 2013 report, which analyzed information collected the previous November, shows that the top earners for undergraduates who graduated in 2012 were those graduating in the field of engineering. Those degree holders were followed closely by their peers in the computer science and business markets.
The NACE compiles information on degrees, jobs, and earnings from multiple sources. After collecting the salary information from over 400,000 businesses, they find a range and an average for jobs for those who graduated with degrees in Business, Communications, Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Humanities & Social Sciences, and Math & Sciences. These are compiled into an easy to read report.
The survey found that those with an engineering degree are the top earners with an average salary of just under $62,000. This represents a 3.9% increase over the starting salaries for recent engineering graduates in 2011. The data does show the highs and the lows. Aerospace engineers bumped up 8.3% over the 2011 salaries to $64,000 while civil engineers gained just 2.5% to salaries of $57,600.
Computer and information sciences has been a hot industry lately. It continues to be strong with those graduating with these degrees in 2012 earning an average of just over $59,000, and increase of 3.9% over the starting salaries in 2011.
Business majors graduating in 2012 could expect to earn around $54,000. Just like with engineers the earnings varied by niche. Marketing majors saw a 4.7% increase from 2011 to $51,000. Finance majors earned the most pulling in $57,300.
For those who are looking to get started in their college adventure, it is wise to look at these numbers. While it may be tempting to get a humanities or social science degree (think Health and Human Services, Anthropology, or Sociology), these are more labors of love. They are not going to make you rich, and they actually fall into the category that earns the lowest. By taking a good look at what degree programs are available and what the potential earnings are, you can get a significant boost in your career. Especially at a time when student loan debt is approaching $1 trillion.
Engineers have long been valued for their service. They make America run, and they are well compensated for it. But this is not to diminish the importance of many other careers as well. Every job is important and serves a function. And every job helps to keep the economy moving. The real trick is to find something you love doing, and then to become an expert at doing it.