Undoubtedly, a college degree means a lot. An analysis conducted on the estimated lifetime earnings of 171 college degrees gives a better understanding of the labor market. As it appears, choosing the right college degree can make you richer by $3.64 million. And engineering college degrees in the right field can definitely make a difference.
A study at Georgetown University shows that over a 40-year career, petroleum engineers can earn up to $4.8 million, which is comparably higher than a graduate of counseling psychology major who only earns up to $1.16 million. Moreover, a college degree proves to be a lifetime investment. By simply having a college degree, you are assured of earning no less than $700,000 through a full time career. That’s significantly more than a high school graduate can earn.
Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce asserts that although earning a college degree is important, choosing what college degree to take is what really matters. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey conducted in 2019 reveals that your college major is significantly related to your projected lifetime earnings.
A study from the American Institutes for Research found that graduates of highly selective colleges earn more compared with less-selective-school graduates. The study also shows that by merely having a college degree, you are assured of earning $230,000 more than a high school graduate could earn.
Another study conducted at Pew Research Center showed that, even with the increased cost of education, the economic gains are still comparably higher. Furthermore, individual profiles like sex, age and race can affect the choice of college degree.
Among college degrees, four majors are known to have the highest average lifetime earnings. Mathematics and computer sciences, marine engineering and naval engineering, mining and mineral engineering and metallurgic engineering are the “less popular” degrees with high economic return. These areas of study provide higher chances of landing a high-paying job. It suggests that these fields are really in demand. Other fields such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and aeronautical engineering are “more popular” degrees which attract less salary.
On the other hand, Richard Fry, an economist, has raised objections on studies related with lifetime earnings, asserting that the data provided reflects the current work environment, and not the future.