Journalists are curious by nature, so we set out to find the top engineering schools, based on how well their grads are paid. The data compilation was provided by Payscale.com.
In addition, we found it interesting that most engineering schools on our list are graduating women engineers in the 10% to 20% range. Of the top engineering schools, only Carnegie Mellon University is graduating 33% women. The average starting salaries of engineering grads at these schools is 25% to 50% higher than the average college salaries across all professions.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow. Then, in the comments section below, tell us if your school ranked and if the numbers add up.
Rank: 15 -- Montana Tech
Coming in at number 15 for engineering starting salaries, Montana Tech at the University of Montana's graduates are averaging $57,400 out of the chute. Mid-career salaries don’t hold up quite as well, coming in at $82,600. Top mid-career earners were reservoir engineers who are bringing in $152,125.
(Source: Montana Tech at the University of Montana)
Arden, that is a very good point. I was thinking the same thing as I went through the slideshow. Frankly, I am on my second and last looking at engineering/computer science schools. The final decision has been made. It was not one of these, but we looked at several of them and visited a number of them.
Cost of living considerations have always been important. I had a professor at Villanova many years ago who got a job in New York City toward the end of the semester. He went from a large townhouse to an apartment on a much higher salary. Sometimes the differences can be striking.
That's a great line of questioning, Chuck. I was surprised to not see U of Mich. or Stanford, since they are both top engineering schools that are near industries that employ engineers by the thousands. I'll be talking with PayScale, so I'll ask whether the survey just looked at engineering schools rather than schools with engineering "departments." I would think the engineering departments at Michigan and Stanford are larger than many -- if not most -- engineering schools.
As I look through this, I presume that the only schools shown in this list are the ones that can be easily identified as engineering schools, and not as major universities. By that I mean that we don't see Purdue, Penn State, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, Southern Cal, Northwestern, Stanford and many other universities in which engineering is a just small portion of the overall enrollment. Rob, is that the case? Would it have been possible to break out, for example, the engineering population at Purdue and find out what their average salaries were?
@Arden Dulou: I was going to make the same point. As Design News salary surveys have repeatedly shown, there is a big regional variation in engineering salaries across the U.S., which tracks (more or less) with cost of living.
Montana Tech probably made the list because of the oil and gas boom in neighboring North Dakota; then again, I've read that you can make $11 an hour and get a $300 signing bonus just to work at McDonalds in North Dakota these days. Not coincidentally, North Dakota also has among the highest housing and food costs in the nation. After the boom ends, North Dakota will probably go back to being just another rural Western-Midwestern state.
One thing I didn't see in the article is a discussion of tuition costs. I think Montana Tech and Missouri S&T (a.k.a. Rolla) are the best values on the list, at least for in-state residents. For many of the private schools on the list, the starting salary is about equal to one year's tuition. That doesn't sound like such a great deal, unless you have a good scholarship.
I don't agree with the mindset of approaching college purely as an investment decision, but since we live in a market economy, it would be unwise to ignore economic realities. A high starting salary can easily be offset by high student loan debt, high cost of living, etc. I certainly hope no students make decisions about where to go to school based on lists like this.
The jobs available to school engineering grads depends on location and the available local industries near a particular school not so much the quality of the college academics itself. Location is the most important factor for salary not education quality. MIT is over rated.
Rich, PayScale explains its methodology on this page: http://www.payscale.com/about/methodology
Basically, they're managing incoming surveys of pay data. They do explain the validation process:
"Each completed survey is run through a data-cleaning algorithm. Additionally, our crack team of data scientists analyzes the data to identify potential biases and outliers."
So, while PayScale stands by its data, the company does not conduct comprehensive and systematic outreach to job holders.
Interestingly, PayScale's client base consists of universities and colleges that want data about their graduates' salaries. So presumably, PayScale is generally doing a better job of tracking alumni salaries than the universities and colleges themselves.
Hmm. Can I question the data? I'd liked to see exactly how the information was attained. I don't doubt that MIT should top the list, but there's a bunch of others that I would expect to see on the list. And there were more than a few that I never heard of. Maybe someone from Payscale.com could respond?
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