According to PayScale, a leader in compensation data collection and research, the top five high-paying undergraduate degrees are all in engineering disciplines. Indeed, engineering and science degrees make up almost all of the top-20 list of high-paying degrees. If you want to maximize your earning potential right out of school, prepare to take lots of math and science courses. To learn more about the top five disciplines, see below.
An undergraduate petroleum engineering degree prepares the student for an entry-level position in the petroleum industry, primarily dealing with the extraction of either crude oil or natural gas. While the degree provides a broad education in math, science, and engineering, students gain a deeper knowledge of how fluid flows through subsurface formations in preparation for work on drilling, extraction, and reservoir management. The average salary for a bachelor degree-holder with two years of experience is $97,900. Bachelor graduates with 15 years of experience currently earn an average of $155,000 annually.
Chemical engineering bachelor programs provide a broad education in chemistry, physics, math, and engineering in preparation for synthesizing raw chemicals and other materials into more useful forms. Chemical engineers commonly work in the chemical, energy, and petroleum industries, and also have great opportunities in biotechnology, environmental engineering, pharmaceuticals, and electronics manufacturing. The average salary for a bachelor degree graduate with two years of experience is $64,500. With 15 years of experience, average salaries rise to $109,000.
Electrical Engineering graduates have a foundation of knowledge in mathematics, physical sciences, and computing. In most cases, electrical engineering students specialize at the bachelor level, choosing from among several topics including general electronics, signal processing, fields and waves, controls, and computer hardware, among others. Electrical engineering graduates earn an average salary of $61,300 with two years of experience and $103,000 with 15 years of experience.
Materials Science & Engineering students study all types of materials to achieve a broad understanding of structural properties, material performance under different conditions, and material processing techniques for use in manufacturing and other applications. In addition to ceramics and metals, materials scientists also regularly deal with polymers, biological materials, semiconductors, and photonic materials. Materials Science & Engineering bachelor degree holders take jobs in a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, energy, construction, electronics, and biomedicine, among others. Degree holders earn an average salary of $60,400 with two years experience and $103,000 after 15 years.
Aerospace Engineering involves the design and construction of aircraft and spacecraft. Undergraduate aerospace students acquire a broad knowledge of gas dynamics, structures, and topics in control specialties in preparation for entry level jobs in research, design, and development of vehicles and systems used in atmospheric and space environments. Typically, aerospace engineers work in concert with a team of scientists, engineers, and technicians to carry out development projects. Bachelor degree holders with two years of experience can expect to earn an average salary of $60,700, while those with 15 years of experience earn an average of $102,000.