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Best-Paying Degrees in 2010

Best-Paying Degrees in 2010

By Charles Purdy, Yahoo! HotJobs

Engineering majors dominate a list of the top 10 highest-earning and most in-demand bachelor's degrees, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which surveyed bachelor's degree candidates with 10 job offers reported, and compared proposed salaries.

In NACE's Winter 2010 Salary Survey, engineering disciplines account for eight of the 10 bachelor's degrees that could prove most valuable to graduates entering the job market.

Petroleum engineering earned the highest starting salary reported -- $86,220 -- more than 1.5 times the average starting salary reported for bachelor's degree graduates as a whole ($48,351).

"While a variety of factors play a role in determining salaries, new graduates with degrees in the technical fields tend to benefit from their relatively low supply," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. "There is more competition for their skills, driving up their salary offers."

For example, petroleum engineering degrees account for less than 1 percent of all bachelor's degrees conferred.

"Not every case is that extreme, but, in general, candidates with technical degrees have an advantage in the job market," says Mackes.

The only nonengineering-related degrees in the top 10 were computer science and information sciences and systems, which draw larger number of students. However, those students should see plenty of opportunity: Recent US Department of Labor research predicts the fastest-growing category for jobs in the coming decade will be management, scientific and technical consulting services, with growth at 83 percent between 2008 and 2018.

The lowest-earning bachelor's degree reported in NACE's study was sociology ($29,031).  

Top-Paid Bachelor's Degrees

1. Petroleum Engineering

Average Salary Offer: $86,220

2. Chemical Engineering
Average Salary Offer: $65,142

3. Mining & Mineral Engineering (Including Geological)

Average Salary Offer: $64,552

4. Computer Science
Average Salary Offer: $61,205

5. Computer Engineering
Average Salary Offer: $60,879

6. Electrical/Electronics and Communications Engineering

Average Salary Offer: $59,074

7. Mechanical Engineering

Average Salary Offer: $58,392

8. Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering
Average Salary Offer: $57,734

9. Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering
Average Salary Offer: $57,231

10. Information Sciences and Systems
Average Salary Offer: $54,038 

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