Why Investment in Engineering and Science College Degrees provide the best Lifetime Earning ROI:
College education is not cheap and is becoming more and more expensive every year. The US college loans debt is approaching 1 Trillion dollars and more and more students find it harder and harder to pay for their college education, in spite of the many financial aid options available to them.
Despite the gloom and doom over the rising cost of college education, it still pays to get a degree if you do it wisely. Full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, 84 percent more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma, according to a May 2011 report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.
But college is an investment, and not all investments are created equal. “What” you study impacts the economic value your degree will hold after graduation, which is why some parents urge their students to study engineering instead of art. In fact, 42 percent of parents say they prodded their student to pick a collegiate path based on earning potential, and 16 percent of parents say they will have their child change majors to earn more money, according to Fidelity Investment 2013 report. Many parents pushing their kids to pursue degrees in Engineering, Computer science, Biology, Psychology, Business, Medicine, and Accounting as opposed to liberal arts, history, poetry or foreign languages.
Engineering and Computer Science
While engineering and computer science consistently rate among the top-paying college majors, students should also research employment demand and hot skillsets. Those skills include the ability to analyze and make sense of data, work through complex economic and scientific models, or understand what drives people to buy. Factoring in workforce demand, employment potential, starting salaries, and income growth can help college students ensure they get the best return on their investment (ROI).
An analytical edge for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Life Sciences and Mathematics boast strong earning potential and low unemployment rates, which can help you reap the highest ROI on your education investment. Not everyone is cut out for the analytical stuff. If you are one of those people, you’re lucky, because people want to hire you. Even in Engineering, there are many “hot” disciplines that are “popping up” and attracting strong and dynamic workforce to fulfill the demand. Recent trends include Bio-Technology, Petroleum and Chemical Engineering, and Environmental and Geological Engineering.
With average 2014 starting salaries hovering close to $98,000 per year, a median salary of $120,000, and 95 percent of graduates employed full time, Petroleum Engineering majors can expect a solid ROI on their degree. The same goes for students majoring in Geological Engineering, a niche degree that yields high salaries and nearly 100 percent employment for majors.
Engineering majors dominate most top 10 lists for degrees with a high ROI. For Example:
•Chemical Engineering— 2014 median starting pay: $64,500; median mid-career pay: $109,000
•Electrical Engineering— 2014 median starting pay: $61,300; median mid-career pay: $103,000
•Material Science— 2014 median starting pay: $60,400; median mid-career pay: $103,000
Some interesting findings from a 2013 ROI report generated by PayScale Inc. reveal that the highest Lifetime ROI for college education is produced by graduates of non IV league colleges where college tuition is moderate and mid-career pay is very competitive, as shown in the following table:
Expensive colleges (mostly ”big name” private institutions and IV league school) do not generate the highest ROI necessarily, although their graduates enjoy fairly high lifetime earnings as shown in the table below.
If high lifetime earnings and high college ROI are important factors for you in choosing a college and a career path, I highly recommend exploring college degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and looking for colleges with high ROI potential. Most STEM careers will produce high earning and provide fairly steady and secure career paths.
When looking for specific college, I would not recommend picking “big name” school with high tuition costs necessarily. Many state colleges provide excellent STEM education, and open many career opportunities for their graduates with very competitive salaries.
So consider college investment as a long term proposition and choose your college and your major based on estimated lifetime earning potential, and your ROI.