This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 5, 2009

Highest Paid Jobs for Fresh Grads

College students: Want the highest starting salary in this economy? Study engineering. According to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), engineers earn the best starting salaries. NACE's Summer 2009 Salary Survey shows that four of the five highest starting salaries went to occupations involving engineering.

The Law of Supply and Demand is alive and well in the global labor market. In our audiences around the world the oil and gas producers complain that petroleum engineers are in high demand, often being poached for salaries up to seven times what they are earning in their home countries. Marilyn Mackes NACE executive director confirms, "Even in a tight job market, there are simply more opportunities requiring an engineering degree than graduates available to fill those positions. That drives salaries up."

In fact, as reported in the Digest of Education Statistics 2008 from the National Center for Education Statistics, out of the more than 1,524,000 bachelor's degrees awarded in 2007 (the latest data available), just 450 were in petroleum engineering and only 4,492 were in chemical engineering.

To bring the United States' competitive position into focus, according to an article published in "Business Week" Magazine in December 2005, looking exclusively at four-year degrees, the US graduated 137,437 engineers, versus 112,000 from India and 351,537 from China, though the latter were reported under a "broader category".

The NACE study reported the average starting salaries: Petroleum Engineers are the highest paid graduates at USD$83,121, followed by Chemical Engineers at USD $64,902; Mining Engineers are close behind at USD $64,404. Coming fourth and fifth are Computer Engineers at USD $61,738 and Computer Science graduates (in general) at USD $61,407.

Until the US wakes up to the urgent need to support the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects, it will continue to operate at a disadvantage on the world stage. An important part of earning the Employer of Choice® Award is to support programs that grow the next generation of workers. Wise employers, especially those that benefit from these graduates, will put increasing energy towards encouraging young people to go into these lucrative professions.

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