CS, Engineering Jobs Top WSJ-PayScale Study

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-10-27 Print this article Print

The starting salaries of engineering and computer science degrees top those of liberal arts majors by a margin of $22,000 from the top of the scale to the bottom, according to a Wall Street Journal/PayScale.com study that interviewed 11,000 workers. These workers graduated college between 1999 and 2010 with adjustments made for inflation.

At the top of all majors was engineering clocking in at $56,000 right out of school. Compare that to the bottom of the 13 major categories--English--which showed starting salary of $34,000. In the No. 2 spot was computer science, just under engineering at $50K, followed by civil engineering at $49K.

Also in the $40K range were three other majors: accounting ($43K), economics ($42K) and finance ($41K). In the $30K to $40K range were seven majors including biology ($38K), business ($38K), marketing ($37K), political science ($36K), psychology ($35K), communications ($34K), and of course, English.

The pay advantage of graduates with technical degrees often persists throughout their careers, said Fort Collins, Colo.-based career counselor Katy Piotrowski. Although liberal arts majors have a wide range of salaries, Ms. Piotrowski said that mid-career liberal arts majors she works with in northern Colorado make between $60,000 and $70,000. Those with technical degrees make at least $10,000 more.

Technical majors even have an advantage in fields that are typically hotbeds for liberal arts majors, she said. "Technical degrees are valued in all fields. I've a seen a [company] communications department actually prefer that someone have an engineering degree rather than a communications degree," she said.

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