Best Engineering Majors for Achieving the Highest Starting Salary
Students who completed bachelor's degrees in the petroleum and chemical engineering sub-fields commanded the top starting salaries in 2010. These 4-year programs consist of math, chemistry and physics courses.
What are the Best Engineering Majors for Achieving the Highest Starting Salary?
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that petroleum and chemical engineering majors were offered the highest starting salaries among the 2010 class of college graduates (www.naceweb.org). This is in large part due to the growing demand for engineering program graduates and the fact that engineering majors made up only five percent of the total bachelor's degrees granted in 2008, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (www.nces.ed.gov).
Engineers in the petroleum industry 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.
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.
Starting Salaries for Petroleum and Chemical Engineering Majors
The average starting salary for 2010 graduates of petroleum engineering bachelor's degree programs was $74,799, according to NACE. Graduates of chemical engineering bachelor's degree programs were offered an average starting salary of $65,628.
Other Factors Affecting Salary
Engineering salaries can also be determined by geographical location. The mean annual wage for petroleum engineers was $119,960 in May of 2009, but those in the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma area made a mean annual wage of $199,860 during the same year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).
Industry can also determine top salaries. Chemical engineers earned a mean annual wage of $91,670 in May of 2009. Those working in the oil and gas extraction industries earned a mean annual salary of $115,570 during the same year.
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