These are the highest-paying industries for graduates, according to new research

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Engineering is revealed to be the highest-paying industry for graduates, with a median salary of $97,000 per year.

Research conducted by QR code generator, QRFY, has shed light on the highest-paying sectors for graduates across America. Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on median salary per field of degree, as of September 2023, were analyzed to reveal the industries in which graduates can earn the most. As well as this, the study examined the percentage of employees with an advanced degree and the most popular major per field of degree.

Rank
Field of degree/industry

Median annual wage ($)

 
1 
Engineering
97,000 
 
2
Computer and information technology
90,000 
3 
Transportation
 
82,000 
 
4 
 
Engineering technologies
 
80,000 
 
5 
 
Mathematics
 
78,000 
 
6 
 
Construction
 
77,000 
 
7 
 
Physical science
 
74,000 
 
8 
 
Science technologies
72,000 
 
9 
 
Architecture, Biology, Military
 
70,000 
 
10 
 
Business
 
69,000 

With the highest median salary of $97,000, engineering graduates working in the industry have the most lucrative degrees. The average median wage across all industries is $63,000 for graduates, meaning that those with engineering degrees are earning 54% more. 42% of people working in the industry have an advanced degree, and one of the most popular engineering majors is electrical engineering, with a total of 22% majoring in this discipline. 
   
Computer and IT graduates are the second-highest earners, with a median annual salary of $90,000. Individuals working in this sector are earning 43% more than the average graduate, and 30% of these workers hold an advanced degree. An overwhelming majority of graduates majored in Computer Science, 61% to be exact. 
   
The third highest-earning industry for graduates is transportation, with the median salary at $82,000. Those with transportation degrees are earning 30% more than the average graduate, and all of these graduates majored in Transportation Sciences and Technologies. 21% of workers in the field have an advanced degree. 
  
Engineering technologies graduates are the fourth highest earners with a median salary of $80,000. Graduates working in this industry are earning 27% more than the average degree holder, and 25% hold an advanced degree. Electrical engineering technology majors make up 27% of engineering technologies graduates. 
 
Taking the fifth spot is the mathematics sector. With a median salary of $78,000, math grads are earning 24% more than the average graduate. 51% of workers in the industry have an advanced degree. 
 
Closely following in sixth place is the construction industry, with graduates earning a median salary of $77,000; this is 22% above the average. All graduates majored in construction services, and 11% hold an advanced degree.  
 
Physical science is the seventh most lucrative industry for graduates with a median salary of $74,000, which is 17% more than the average. Chemistry majors hold the largest share of the physical science majors, with 35%. The industry proves itself as scholarly, with 53% holding an advanced degree.  
 
In eighth place is science technologies. Graduates in this industry earn a median salary of $72,000, which is 14% more than an average graduate wage. Approximately 100% of science technologies graduates majored in nuclear, industrial radiology, and biological technologies. 24% have earned an advanced degree. 
 
In the penultimate spot is architecture, biology, and the military in joint ninth place. The graduates of these industries earn a median salary of $70,000 and are above the average percentage of employees with an advanced degree, which is 38%.  
 
Rounding off the rankings is business in tenth place. Graduates in this industry are earning a median salary of $69,000. 27% of business graduates major in business management and administration, and 26% of workers hold an advanced degree. 
   
A spokesperson from QRFY commented on the findings: “With the majority of the top ten industries in the rankings being math-based and science-based, it shows how it is most profitable for students to major in these subjects. Since last year, university tuition rates have risen by up to 5%, so it will be interesting to see if demand for these well-paying degree fields rises in line with increasing tuition costs. 
  
It is interesting to note that there seems to be little correlation between having an advanced degree and earning a large pay packet. Four of the least well-paid industries are also four of the industries with the highest percentage of workers with an advanced degree. At 67%, library science is the sector with the highest percentage of workers with an advanced degree, but it ranks in the bottom ten for pay, with a median salary of $49,000.” 

Methodology:

  • Median salary, the percentage of workers with an advanced degree, and the percentage of graduates with a specific major were sourced for 36 fields of degree in America. 
  • The average annual median wage and the average percentage of employees with an advanced degree were also sourced to serve as comparable figures. 
  • All of the above information was sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics.
  • The fields of degree were then compiled into a ranked list, from the highest-paying field of degree to the lowest-paying field of degree.

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