With the spring semester kicking off on college campuses around the country, many students are beginning to question whether or not a change of major is in order, and if a high starting salary is the key goal, there is one major that pays out almost 40% more than the average.
The latest data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers is in, and in 2013, the starting salary for college graduates stood at $45,633, a gain of 2.6% over 2012 levels, representing an increase of more than $1,000. Yet there was a wide range of starting salaries depending on majors, from one where the average starting salary was $38,045 per year, to the leader with an average of $62,564 per year.
There were seven majors tracked, and data was collected from more than 400,000 employers and government sources, and the highest paying careers may surprise you.
7. Humanities & Social Sciences -- $38,045
A degree in Humanities & Social Sciences resulting in the lowest paying starting salaries in America, at just over $38,000. It also had the lowest starting range, with the minimum salary hitting $30,444. However in good news for Humanities & Social Science majors, they had the fastest growing salaries, as they were up 2.9% over 2012 levels.
6. Education -- $40,590
Following the Humanities & Social Sciences was Education, where the average wage actually dropped by 0.2% when compared to 2012 levels. The survey did note that Special Education Majors did see a higher starting salary, as they had an average of $46,000.
5. Mathematics & Sciences -- $42,956
Next on the list was Mathematics & Science majors, where the salary rose by 1.1% year over year. However the real winners were Mathematics majors, who had an average salary of $50,200, a gain of 1.8% over last year. While the salary growth wasn't as impressive, the highest paid major in this group was Construction Science/Management, which had an average starting salary of $45,300.
4. Communications -- $44,552
Surpassing Mathematics & Sciences was Communications, which saw average starting salaries rise by 1.9% year over year. However it had one of the widest ranges, with the highest earners -- almost topping $55,000 -- making nearly 60% more than the lowest earners at $34,000. Advertising majors had an average of $48,100, and journalism majors were below the average, hitting $41,900.
3. Business -- $55,144
Next were Business majors, who had the second highest percentage gain, with salaries up 2.3% over 2012 levels. Although they remained below the average, International Business majors had the biggest gains in average salary, growing from 3.8% to $46,900. The highest starting salaries of the group were Management Information Systems, with an average of $60,700.
2. Computer Science -- $59,084
Coming in second were Computer Science majors, with a starting salary nearing $60,000. However while that is impressive, it actually represented a loss of 0.2% compared to last year. There was also a wide range among starting salaries for Computer Science majors, as starting salaries range all the way from $46,000 to $69,710.
1. Engineering -- $62,564
And the college major with the highest average starting salary was Engineering, with an average starting pay almost $17,000 higher than the average across all majors. However Engineering majors did see a very slight loss ($91) in average starting salary versus 2012 levels. Mechanical Engineering majors had the highest percentage gain, as their salaries increased 2.5% to $64,500, but the true winner was petroleum engineering, where the average starting salary was an astounding $97,000.
All told, the increase in average starting pay for college graduates was a good thing, but there is no denying some degrees can end up paying a lot more than others.