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Nine good reasons to be an engineer

Recently I asked the question, “Why be an engineer?

A report just issued by the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project answers that question nine times over.

The study – called Major Decisions: What Graduates Earn Over Their Lifetimes – looked at the median lifetime earnings by college major. It sized up 80 different college majors to rank them from highest-paid to lowest.


What stands out is that the top nine best-paid slots belong to various engineering disciplines, including aerospace, chemical, and petroleum engineering.

That’s like a baseball team’s lineup featuring the top nine hitters in the league in terms of batting average. It’s extraordinary.

For several types of engineering degrees, the median lifetime earnings top more than $2 million.

A close examination of the rankings shows a list that is top-heavy with disciplines rooted in science, technology, engineering, and math. Careers in physics and chemistry tend to pay better than careers for graduates majoring in communications, English, or art history.

The study stressed that over one’s career, the highest-earning majors will take in two-and-a-half times what those at the low end of the scale will earn.

In response to this study, The Washington Post inquired, “Is a four-year college degree worth it?”

If you went to college to study engineering, the answer is a resounding yes.

  • Worth a deeper look...