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Top Starting Salary Earners Among Engineering Majors

Career News August 9, 2014

Those who graduated from bachelor’s degree programs in the chemical, computer, and petroleum engineering sub-fields yielded the top starting wages in 2013. These 4-year programs contain chemistry, physics, and math courses.

Engineering Majors with the Highest Starting Salaries

Chemical, computer and petroleum majors were listed as the highest earning engineering graduates in 2013 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Between the years 1999-2000 and 2004-2005, 8% increases were reported by engineering majors at the bachelor’s level. Between 2004-2005 and 2009-2010, 12% increases were registered in enrollment of these majors (the National Center for Education Statistics).

Descriptions of Top Earning Engineers

Chemical Engineer

Processes for the manufacture of plastics and petroleum products, among other goods, are researched and developed by chemical engineers. Students who pursue this major seek enrollment in physics, math and chemistry courses. They also learn computer modeling and master energy transport principles via senior projects or internships.

Computer Engineer

Creation of new computer hardware is augmented by analyzing and testing new equipment and updating older equipment. Computer engineers commonly enroll in a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, computer science or computer engineering. Schools often combine bachelor’s degree programs in computer engineering with computer science and core coursework may include topic areas such as logic design, software engineering, discrete mathematics, and programming.

Petroleum Engineer

Engineers in the petroleum industry design new technology for the recovery of oil and natural gas. New techniques for the more efficient removal of these resources may also be developed by these professionals. Coursework in a petroleum engineering major usually comprises core physics, geology and chemistry courses. Students then explore factors that determine a reservoir’s output or drilling techniques. Some programs may also cover advanced topic areas such as petrophysics, fluid dynamics, and fluid mechanics.

Starting Salaries for Engineering Majors

In 2013, chemical engineers, computer engineers and petroleum engineers brought home respective starting average annual wages of $67,600, $71,700, and $93,500 (NACE).

Other Factors That Determine Salary

Engineering salaries vary by geographical location. For instance, in May 2013, while petroleum engineers earned $149,180, those in the metropolitan area of Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX, earned $179,040, on average. Washington, Massachusetts, California, Virginia and Wisconsin paid the highest wages to computer engineers, in 2013 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Top salaries can also vary by industry. In May 2013, chemical engineers brought home an average annual wage of $104,340, while professionals employed in the oil and gas extraction industries banked $158,320 on average, during that year.

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