college

High-paying college majors to study

Engineering
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Engineering

Median mid-career pay: $88,600-$155,000
Median starting salary: $51,700-$97,900

When it comes to landing an impressive paycheck, engineers dominate. Seven of the top highest-paying college majors are in the engineering fields with petroleum, chemical, electrical, materials science and aerospace engineering claiming the top five slots.

Engineers across all disciplines can up their pay by getting a Professional Engineering, or PE, license, says Lawrence Jacobson, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers in Alexandria, Va.

"Only 10 percent of practicing engineers are licensed, and that's because most manufacturing companies don't require licenses," Jacobson says. "The average delta between the licensed and unlicensed person is about $10,000 per year. Over a 30-year career, that's a lot of money."

Jacobson adds that obtaining a license provides job seekers with more career options, the ability to go into business for themselves and the right to provide expert testimony in court cases. The catch is that getting a PE license is difficult. Jacobson recommends that new engineering grads take the exam as soon as possible, which is usually after completing four to five years of work in the field after graduation.


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