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Engineering degrees top earning-potential list in new study

October 1, 2014 - By Kim Delker

A new study has found that the lifetime earnings of those with a bachelor's degree is significantly higher than those who earn just a high school diploma, and the highest earners are those with engineering degrees.

The study by the Hamilton Project, an affiliate of the Brookings Institution, looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey and found that regardless of a student's major in college, a typical graduate with a bachelor's degree, regardless of major, will earn $1.19 million in their lifetime, which is $335,000 more than holders of two-year degrees and twice as much as those with a high school diploma.

The study found that those majoring in quantitative majors — such as engineering, computer science, physics, and economics — were the top earners.

Engineering took the top 10 top-earning majors in the list:

Chemical engineering
Aerospace engineering
Energy and extraction engineering
Computer engineering
Electrical engineering
Mechanical engineering
Civil engineering
Industrial and manufacturing engineering
General engineering
Computer science

Chaouki Abdallah, University of New Mexico provost, told the Albuquerque Journal that while a college degree can lead to a great financial benefit, the value of a degree goes far beyond the paycheck.

"Many of the societal benefits (healthier, more engaged citizens) cannot be measured in the short term, nor can they be reduced to financial metrics," he said. "… It is, however, absolutely true, based on the data, that college graduates earn more than those with less education."

The full report can be accessed here.