Engineering Again Dominates The Highest Paying College Degree Programs

Posted on April 13, 2011  Comments (9)

As usual most of the highest paying undergraduate college degrees in the USA are engineering. Based on data from payscale, all of the top 10 highest paying fields are in engineering. The highest non-engineering fields are applied mathematics and computer science. Petroleum Engineering salaries have exploded over the last few years to $93,000 for a starting median salary, more than $30,000 above the next highest paying degree.

Mid-career median salaries follow the same tendency for engineering degrees, though in this case, 3 of the top 10 salaries (15 years into a career) are for those with non-engineering degrees: applied mathematics, physics and economics.

Highest Paid Undergrad College Degrees
Degree Starting Median Salary Mid-Career Median Salary 2009 starting salary
Petroleum Engineering $93,000 $157,000
Chemical Engineering $64,800 $108,000 $65,700
Nuclear Engineering $63,900 $104,000
Computer Engineering $61,200 $99,500 $61,700
Electrical Engineering $60,800 $104,000 $60,200
Aerospace Engineering $59,400 $108,000 $59,600
Material Science and Engineering $59,400 $93,600
Industrial Engineering $58,200 $97,400 $57,100
Mechanical Engineering $58,300 $97,400 $58,900
Software Engineering $56,700 $91,300
Applied Mathematics $56,400 $101,000
Computer Science $56,200 $97,700 $56,400

Related: PayScale Survey Shows Engineering Degree Results in the Highest Pay (2009)Engineering Majors Hold 8 of Top 10 Highest Paid Majors (2010)Engineering Graduates Get Top Salary Offers in 2006Shortage of Petroleum Engineers (2006)10 Jobs That Provide a Great Return on Investment

More degrees are shown in the following table, but this table doesn’t include all the degree; it just shows a sample of the rest of the degrees.

Salaries for Select Other Undergrad College Degrees
Degree Starting Median Salary Mid-Career Median Salary 2009 starting salary
Biomedical Engineering $54,800 $101,000
Nursing $52,700 $68,200
Physics $50,700 $99,600 $51,100
Economics $48,800 $97,800 $50,200
Statistics $50,000 $92,900 $48,600
Chemistry $42,400 $83,700
Philosophy $39,100 $72,900
Biology $38,400 $72,800
Fashion Design $37,700 $72,200
Liberal Arts $35,700 $63,900

Typical starting graduates have 2 years of experience; mid-career have 15 years. See full methodology for more detail.

9 Responses to “Engineering Again Dominates The Highest Paying College Degree Programs”

  1. mmozart
    April 15th, 2011 @ 10:09 am

    Would be very interesting to make comparison for and between some other countries worldwide, or regions ( USA, western Europe, eastern Europe etc ).

  2. ikariam
    April 19th, 2011 @ 8:25 am

    In Germany engineering is alway a safe bet to get a highly paid job.

  3. niloma
    May 1st, 2011 @ 11:54 am


    i think engineering is an ever green field ..though it has many branches all those branches come under engineering finally..
    so for more information related to engineering whatever it may be form colleges to branches in engg and the best branch available for the students based upon their interest,and how is the demand and career growth for different branches of engg abroad and what will be the pay for the various streams.. ..just log onto indiaeduforum

    all the best..

  4. Anonymous
    May 30th, 2011 @ 3:25 am

    Yeah, engineering is the evergreen field. Engineering is the discipline, art and profession of acquiring and applying technical, scientific, and mathematical knowledge to design and implement materials, structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes that safely realize a desired objective or invention. Scope of engineering and demand of engineers is huge.

  5. Looking at the Value of Different College Degrees at Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog
    November 10th, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

    […] for Education majors. As I have written frequently on the Curious Cat Science and Engineering blog, engineering degrees are very financially rewarding. Chart of salaries (25th and 75th percentile) by major in the USA based on data from […]

  6. Robert Jackson
    February 21st, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    How much do petroleum engineers with no experience start out with in Germany

  7. Armetra
    October 13th, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    Yeah, I guess Petroelum Engineering will become more competitive in the future regarding their salary. I was graduate as mechanical engineer, and based on my experience, it is not competitive much regarding the salary, mechanical engineer only have a lot options in industry business, but once get hired, the salary is not that competitive compare to other discipline (especially Petroleum Engineer).

    But, I’m quite amazed how Nuclear Engineering got paid lower than Chemical Engineering. I thought, their salary is much more competitive, even compare with Petroleum Engineering. Because, Nuclear Engineering is “the future”, I think..

  8. No Surprise: Engineering Graduates Continue to Reign Supreme » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    January 24th, 2013 @ 2:45 am

    If you want a high paying job upon graduation choosing to major in engineering is a great choice, for those that enjoy it and are able to meet the challenge…

  9. Highest Paying Fields at Mid Career in USA: Engineering, Science and Math » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    September 22nd, 2015 @ 10:19 am

    The top 15 bachelor degrees by mid-career salary were all from engineering, math and science. And the median salary was $168,000 for petroleum engineering degrees (at the top) to $107,000 for Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science and Mathematics (tied for 14th).

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