In the competition for top-paying academic discipline, engineering faces many fierce competitors. Unfortunately for the rest of the academic world -- at least at the baccalaureate level -- almost all of the top-paying academic degrees are also in engineering.
Sure, salaries for graduates with humanities degrees rose 3.5% between 2013 and 2014 compared with just 0.3% for engineering, according to a 2014 salary report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
Salary is unlikely to turn top engineering students to the arts, however. Engineering is not only the highest-paying major at the baccalaureate level, engineering sub-specialties fill the rest of the top 10 list as well.
Unfortunately for students trying to optimize the launch of their engineering careers by picking the top-paying specialty at the top-paying school, there is no reliable data to help make the choice.
"Web services that report salaries rely mostly on people seeking jobs who tell their salaries while signing up for something, which is a kind of questionable methodology," according to Edwin Koc, director of strategic and foundation research at NACE, whose salary data comes from colleges and universities with a less-direct interest in making salary numbers look good.
Unfortunately, the schools haven't had a compelling interest in or consistent method to collect data on the salaries their recent graduates are attracting, either, Koc said in an interview with EE Times.
Services such as US News & World Report's
Leading online services including Payscale.com and Dice.com collect data from job seekers, colleges and employers, according to the companies.
Payscale, for example, lists the engineering schools that report the highest starting salaries for graduates, but only for engineering in general, not specialties such as electrical engineering.
Payscale was unable to answer a request from EE Times to slice its data thin enough to identify the top electrical engineering schools, but did promise the next edition of its annual Salary Report -- which is due in September -- would go into far more detail in engineering specialties. Dice.com will do the same in the Fall round of its salary reports would also add more detail.
NACE is working on a more consistent and detailed reporting structure from its university members and should also be able to go into greater detail in its reports starting next year, Koc said.
In the meantime, the closest we can get to pinpointing the 10 best schools for electrical engineers is to look at figures such as those from surveys conducted by online financial information service NerdWallet.com, which measure salaries for engineering and computer-science/engineering majors in the same category. Those two disciplines have not merged, but have become much more closely entwined in both technical content and in demand from companies starved for engineering and computer-design skills, according to Koc.
Click on the image below to see the slideshow.
The data shown on each slide is:
- Rank (1 is highest paying)
- School Name
- Starting Salaries
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
CM combines engineering, linguistics, psychology, and robotics into a program designed to teach engineers to create not only new technology, but new ways to interact with it.
(Photo: CMU gates Hillman complex; Source: CMU)