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Top 3 Money-Making Technical Degrees

written by: Terry Caron•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 6/28/2011

Two questions that predominantly occupy current and prospective college students are: What do I want to do for a living, and how much will I make doing that? Here we provide some information about the income levels for some of the top money making technical degrees.

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    Many students and adults go to college for a number of different reasons. One of the biggest reasons for a college education is to warrant higher salaries. For this reason we reviewed the highest money making technical degrees to provide the reader with information on what degrees are paying the most and have the higher starting salaries. Two focus areas that dominate the top ten money making degrees are engineering and computer science. Both of these degree paths can lead to lucrative careers but let’s take a more focused look at both to see specifically what is making them lucrative.

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    Engineering Degrees

    According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), petroleum engineers will have the highest starting salaries and chemical engineers will be a close second. The average starting salaries for petroleum engineers is about $86,000 and $65,000 for chemical engineers. Other engineering decrees that posted in the top ten include Nuclear Engineer, computer engineering, and electrical engineering. The proposed reasoning for this is that technical degrees make up a low percentage of all college degrees earning in recent years. Petroleum engineering degrees make up less than 1% of the degrees earned and thus the competition is very high for these skill sets. It all seems to go back to supply and demand.

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    Computer Science

    As technology continues to grow, expand and become part of our daily lives and work the technical skills needed to compete in this field are no different. The skills needed to create new computer applications, develop better technologies and compete with other corporations are expanding as well. For this reason, those who graduate with the skills and a computer science degree can look forward to a lucrative career path as well. Graduates with a computer science degree can anticipate earnings starting at $61,000 out of college, according to NACE studies. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports computer scientists' average salary was $109,000 for 2009.

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    Accounting

    An honorable mention should be given to actuaries and accountants as their career paths diversify and become more in demand. A typical actuary's starting salary out of college runs about $56,000 and those with a degree in accounting can anticipate a six figure salary according to the BLS. Accountants and actuaries are the financial masters who advice owners, CEOs and other representatives on all things money related. For this reason those with an accounting degree can expect a promising career in almost any industry.

    All of the top money making technical degree paths has something in common: they involve a lot of math and are considered to be difficult career paths to follow. This may be the reason for the lower percentage of graduates with these degrees. All of these degree paths can be very worthwhile if you enjoy math or the study areas of engineering or accounting.

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    References:

    NACE Winter Salary Survey - http://www.naceweb.org/Research/Salary_Survey/Salary_Survey__Winter_2010.aspx

    Best Paying Degrees in 2010 - http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-best_paying_degrees_in_2010-1173