A new survey released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers says STEM majors -- that’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- earn the highest starting salaries when compared to their peers in the liberal arts and, increasingly, business majors.
Specifically, engineers saw a healthy year-over-year increase of 3.9 percent to their average starting salaries from 2011 to 2012. Aerospace engineering majors saw the largest increase -- 8.3 percent for $64,000 per year. NACE surveyed salaries of 2012 college grads in more than 90 fields, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and Job Search Intelligence, a compensation measurement company.
In a statement, Executive Director Marilyn Mackes said she’s not surprised that engineering majors dominated the list of the top earning college degrees, saying the market needs them most and has a comparatively harder time finding qualified applicants.
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1. Computer Engineering
Students who graduated with a computer engineering major in 2012 earned the most among college graduates. Their average salary was $70,400.
2. Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering majors averaged $66,400.
3. Computer Science
Computer Science majors earned an average of $64,400.
4. Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering Majors
Students who graduated with these degrees in 2012 received an average starting salary of $64,000.
5. Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical Engineers' starting salaries averaged $62,900.
Forbes Magazine’s Meagan Casserly says a race for innovation within both big business and the startup economy is behind the demand.
In short, while the unfortunate truth for graduates is that the jobs shortage is going to make finding a well-paying job even harder in the coming years, for STEM graduates opportunity abounds. STEM-related jobs are growing 60 percent faster than other fields.
A college degree's value is becoming an increasingly relative measure, as average student debt levels rise, and fewer opportunities present themselves to recent college graduates. The millennial unemployment rate was estimated at 13.1 percent in January, according to Policymic.com, and millions of college graduates are underemployed. Some 46 percent of recent college graduates work jobs that don't require a college degree. Perhaps more shocking: about 38 percent hold jobs that don't require a high school diploma.
In 2010, the median of earnings for young adults with a bachelor's degree was 114 percent higher than someone who ends his or her education after high school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Students who chose these majors could count on a little more.
Advice To Job Hunting Women
"Find something you're passionate about and just love. Passion is really gender-neutralizing," Marissa Mayer said on Martha Stewart's "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SilwG6vMARI" target="_hplink">Women with Vision</a>" television series in 2011.
The Pie 'Isn't Big Enough'
"Right now is a great time to be a woman in tech, but there's not enough women in tech," Mayer told a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=prXCrcV-T3M" target="_hplink">CES2012 panel hosted by CNET</a>. "[I] worry a lot of times the conversation gets really focused on what percentage of the pie is women. And the truth is, the pie isn't big enough. We're not producing enough computer scientist. We're not producing enough product designers. We need a lot more people to keep up with all of these gadgets, all of this technology, all these possibilities." Mayer also commented on the stereotypical culture within the tech world: "There's all kinds of different women who do this. You can wear ruffles, you can be a jock, and you still be a great computer scientist or a great technologist, or a great product designer."
"There's just huge growth and opportunity. [T]he fact that the technology is now so tangible in our everyday lives, I think, will inspire a lot more women to go into technology -- and I'm really heartened by that," Mayer said for the MAKERS "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikYo_TLvLh0&list=PL060768C56BD94F3E&index=9&feature=plpp_video" target="_hplink">Women in Tech</a>" interview series in 2012.
"I consider myself incredibly lucky to be present in a moment in time when this wonderful and powerful medium, the internet, is empowering geeks -- and especially female geeks -- to express and pursue their passions," Meyer said in a 2012 acceptance speech at the Celebrating Change gala. She had just won the International Museum of Women's first-ever <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ysPF6gQRROY" target="_hplink">Innovator Award</a>.
"People ask me all the time, 'What is it like to be a woman at Google?' I'm not a women at Google; I'm a geek at Google. And being a geek is just great," she said in an interview for CNN's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sNO1QM9UBCA" target="_hplink">"Leading Women</a>" series in 2012.