Engineering Majors Top Salary Projections for Class of 2015

At graduate degree levels, computer science majors reap top dollars

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Jan 9, 2015
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Engineering majors are projected to be the top-paid bachelor’s degree graduates from the Class of 2015, according to a new report by the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Employers responding to NACE’s January 2015 Salary Survey projected starting salaries for engineering graduates that average $62,998. Within the reported engineering disciplines, petroleum engineering majors are likely to earn the highest salaries with an anticipated average salary of $80,600.

Following closely behind the engineering graduates in terms of projected starting salaries are those earning bachelor’s degrees in the computer sciences field. These grads are projected to earn an average starting salary of $61,287.

At $56,171, the third-highest average salary projection among bachelor’s degree graduates is for math and sciences majors. Within these disciplines, physics majors received the highest projection—$64,625.

Average Projected Salaries by Undergraduate Discipline

Bachelor’s Degree

2015 Average Starting Salary

Engineering

$62,998

Computer Science

$61,287

Math & Sciences

$56,171

Business

$51,508

Agriculture & Natural Resources

$51,220

Health Care

$50,839

Communications

$49,395

Social Sciences

$49,047

Humanities

$45,042

Source: NACE, January 2015 Salary Survey


​Master’s Degree Salaries

At the master’s degree level, computer science majors have the highest salary projection for the Class of 2015 at $71,140, followed by engineering degree holders at $69,698. Graduates receiving master’s degrees in business can anticipate earning salaries that average $67,890.

The remainder of the master’s degree broad categories have higher salary projections than their bachelor’s degree counterparts, and all salary projections exceed $50,000.


Average Projected Salaries by Master’s Discipline

Master’s Degree

2015 Average Starting Salary

Computer Science

$71,140

Engineering

$69,698

Business

$67,890

Math & Sciences

$64,465

Communications

$59,130

Health Care

$58,500

Social Sciences

$54,816

Humanities

$53,692

Agriculture & Natural Resources

$51,417

Source: NACE, January 2015 Salary Survey


Doctoral Degree Salaries

At the doctoral degree level, computer science degrees have the highest projected average salary—$94,000. Individual majors within the computer sciences varied in terms of starting salaries, with doctoral degree software applications majors slated to earn a substantial average of $100,000—the highest individual major in the January 2015 report.

As a group, doctoral degree engineering majors have an average salary of $88,397. Five of the nine reported doctoral engineering degrees garner salary projections that exceed $90,000, with aerospace engineering majors being the highest among them at $95,000.

While salaries offered to most doctoral graduates are expected to outpace those with master’s degrees in the same field, as a group doctoral degree business majors have a projected average salary of $58,000, which is below those earning master’s degrees in business. A possible explanation for this discrepancy might be that a doctorate-level business degree is viewed more as an academic than a business credential.


Average Projected Salaries by Doctoral Disciplines

Doctoral Degree

2015 Average Starting Salary

Computer Science

$94,000

Engineering

$88,397

Math & Sciences

$73,150

Agriculture & Natural Resource

$62,250

Business

$58,000

Source: NACE, January 2015 Salary Survey


Top-Paying Industries

Oil and gas extraction is expected to be the top-paying industry for Class of 2015 bachelor’s degree graduates, regardless of their major, according to the survey. The rest of the top five top-paying industries all deal with manufacturing.

Top-Paying Industries for Class of 2015
(bachelor’s degree graduates, all majors)

Industry

Average Salary Projection

Oil and gas extraction

$67,800

Motor vehicle manufacturing

$64,867

Chemical (pharmaceutical) manufacturing

$64,621

Food and beverage manufacturing

$62,982

Computer and electronics manufacturing

$61,589

Source: NACE, January 2015 Salary Survey


Survey responses were provided by NACE employer members, who reported their projected salaries for their anticipated new hires from the Class of 2015. The January 2015 Salary Survey was conducted from Aug. 11, 2014 through Nov. 24, 2014.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMsmiller.

Related SHRM Article:

Signing Bonuses for New Graduates Return, SHRM Online Compensation, December 2014

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