Industry Market Trends

Engineering Among Majors with the Highest Employment Rates

Sep 10, 2013

College students who major in geological engineering, military technology, pharmacology, and school counseling are all but guaranteed a job after graduation, according to a new report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

The report, "What's it Worth: The Economic Value of College Majors," provides insight into the most valuable degrees, and highlights how the proportion of workers with a bachelor's degree has been on the uptick -- rising from 28 percent in 1992 to 34 percent today.

All degrees are not created equal when it comes to earnings potential.  Credit:Boians Cho Joo Young at All degrees are not created equal when it comes to earnings potential.

Credit:Boians Cho Joo Young at

From an wages standpoint, graduates with at least a bachelor's degree earn 84 percent more than their less academically credentialed peers during a lifetime.

But even with the surge in recent graduation rates, not all alumni find employment once they've earned their degrees. Bureau of Labor findings from the October 2011 School Enrollment Supplement to the Current Population Survey, which provides a snapshot of graduates in the workforce, reveal that unemployment of recent college graduates was at 12.6 percent -- a higher rate than pre-recession levels.

Majors with the Highest and Lowest Employment Rates

With student loan debt at an average of $26,000 per graduate, students still deciding on a major might be wise to consult the Georgetown report. The top majors that translate into the highest employment potential (in descending order) are geological and geophysical engineering, followed by military technologies, pharmacology, school student counseling, and medical assisting services.

Coincidentally, majors boasting the highest employment rates are among the least popular majors. Instead, most students are opting for degrees in business management and administration, general business, and accounting, according to the report.

On the flipside, the top five majors with the highest unemployment rates are social psychology, nuclear engineering, educational administration and supervision, biomedical engineering, and linguistics and comparative language and literature.

Majors that Earn the Most Income

Majors with the highest median earnings are in engineering -- with petroleum engineering at the top of the list. Petroleum engineers who work full-time (with a Bachelor's degree) earn a median of $120,000 per year. At the 25th percentile, these majors earn $82,000 and 75 percentile workers earn an average of $189,000 a year. Petroleum engineers also ranked number one on the Top Best Paying Jobs for Bachelor's Degree Grads, based on market research by Career Builder and Economic Modeling Specialists.