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Highest Paid College Degrees

As companies remain focused on higher-performing employees and businesses growth, many employers are looking for employees with technical skills. See what college degrees are pulling in the best paychecks.

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  • 10. Systems Engineering

    10. Systems Engineering

    Average starting salary: $58,909  The average offer to information sciences and systems graduates rose 4.4 percent. There are more than 300 engineering schools in the country, with MIT, or Massachussetts Instuitte of Technology, ranking the highest, according to a study done by US News & World Report . About 45 percent of all graduate students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, roughly 2,800 students, are enrolled in the School of Engineering, and about a third of all faculty members teach at the school.  Anthony J. Vizzini, dean of Western Michigan University's College of Engineering & Applied Sciences, says that engineering is not a discipline that is appropriate for just anyone.  "Engineers have to be strong in math, science, and communication skills, and the best engineers have a broad knowledge of society as a whole," adds Vizzini.

  • 9. Materials Engineering

    9. Materials Engineering

    Average starting salary: $59,826  About 37 percent of people with materials-engineering majors obtain a graduate degree," according to a recent " What's it Worth " report by Jeff Strohl.  "Most of these engineering specific jobs are some of the few jobs in the U.S. economy that actually have circular tracks almost directly tied to the occupation," Strohl adds.  Materials engineers work with specific material, such as plastics, ceramics, and steel, to find new ways to use products. Although students actively pursue careers in engineering, not all stay in it.  "A BS in engineering also serves as a foundation for lawyers and doctors. It demonstrates that the individual is a critical thinker capable of focusing and solving problems," Vizzini says.

  • 8. Mechanical Engineering

    8. Mechanical Engineering

    Average starting salary: $60,345  Mechanical-engineering graduate salaries increased 3.2 percent compared with a year ago.  Mechanical engineers work with machines and engines, from elevator technology to robotics. An engineering education includes a full year of math and science, two years of discipline-specific material, and a year of general studies. Students in this major focus on areas such as heat transfer and fracture mechanics.  For those seeking jobs in mechanical engineering, it's important to note that students need to graduate from an ABET accredited (the recognized accredited for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology) engineering program to be considered for licensure as a professional engineer in most states. Those who are self-educated need to have their education certified.  About 6 percent of engineering majors are unemployed, while 93 percent work full-time, according to Strohl's report.

  • 7. Electrical/Electronics & Communications Engineering

    7. Electrical/Electronics & Communications Engineering

    Average starting salary: $61,021  Salaries for electrical engineers—the largest of the engineering majors—were up 2.8 percent from 2010. Many graduates who major in communications-engineering programs specialize in areas such as telecommunications, new media, or wireless and mobile engineering.  This field is forecast to have the smallest growth in employment among all engineering majors, according to the U.S. News & World Report study.

  • 6. Software Engineering

    6. Software Engineering

    Average starting salary: $62,738  Engineering makes up 8.2 percent of all majors, according to a report by Strohl.  Although engineering needs are global, "there are geographical areas such as LA, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas or any large city [where demand is strong]. But there might be smaller cities, such as Huntsville, Ala., where there is a significant concentration of technical employment," says Vizzini. See which Top 5 Majors bring the biggest paychecks at

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